You know when you get fanatically obsessed by a certain song and you can play it over and over and over again, nonstop, on repeat? Well, in my case, you can add a couple of dozens “overs” to get a sense of how often I’ve recently played “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” the duet between Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue from his 1996 Murder Ballads album.
To say I’ve been playing the shit out of this song (and Murder Ballads, one of the best albums in Cave’s nearly unbroken string of musical masterpieces) for the past few days would be an understatement (just ask my wife!) but chances are that if you’ve read this far, it’s about to be stuck in your head, too.
Not to rhapsodize too much about something you can simply hit play and experience for yourself, although it’s Cave’s song and well, totally his thing, it’s Kylie who shines here. Dig how perfect her performance is. She hits it so hard and so flawlessly that you can only imagine the junkie prince of darkness jumping for joy in the recording studio when they laid this performance to tape.
He’s great, he’s Nick fucking Cave, of course, but it’s Kylie the astonishing who steals the show here. Her vocal performance as Cave’s victim sounds so pure and innocent that it gives me goosebumps. According to Cave, they did no more than three takes.Why mess with perfection?
First the stunning music video directed by Rocky Schenck. The imagery is based on the mid-19th century painting, “Ophelia” by Sir John Everett Millais, completed between 1851 and 1852. The painting depicts Hamlet‘s Ophelia singing in a river as she dies, and currently resides in the Tate Britain:
For her 2012 orchestral album, The Abbey Road Sessions, Minogue and Cave teamed up again to record this version of the song:
I knew that Cave and Kylie had performed the number on Top of the Pops, twice, but I had never seen either clip, of course they were on YouTube (second week here):
Kylie interviewed on meeting and working with Cave, taken from Great Australian Albums: Murder Ballads (I can’t embed the clip, but it’s worth watching).
Below, Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave on MTV’s Most Wanted:
Here’s another performance, from French television: