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Nick Cave Monday #20: “Henry Lee”

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Today we learn a valuable lesson. If you have a girlfriend, but you are in love with another girl and you tell your girlfriend that this other girl is way hotter than she is, do not stick around when she starts to make out with you.

The song is “Henry Lee”:

Here is the duet performed by Nick and PJ that was released on “Murder Ballads”:

I watch that clip and my glasses fog up it’s so steamy. PJ and Nick dated for a while. It was too perfect, they were plopped into existence and at some point in life they needed to find each other and bang. When PJ Harvey meets Nick Cave, do they even have to speak?

- Hi, I’m Nick.
- Hi, I’m Pollie.

Thirty minutes later.

- Yeah, we can share this cigarette and I’ll call the concierge to see if we can get another pack sent up to the room.

Here’s Nick talking about falling in love:

Yes, I absolutely agree. Love is fun. You run the risk of being gutted with a pen knife, but walking across the street is risky, so go for it.

Some of the earlier versions of the song went by other titles including “Young Hunting” and “Love Henry.”

Here’s Judy Henske singing “Love Henry”:

Give a listen to a Dick Justice:

In some versions of the song the woman offers Henry a drink and gets him drunk before she kills him.

The song was written years before inventions like phones, email, Facebook, text messaging and Twitter.

Henry would probably have lived out his life if he had just sent his girlfriend a quick text that they were over. Even without technology he also could have run after he broke it off with her. But Hank was an alcoholic and just couldn’t pass up the tempting demon juice, and that kissing his ex-girlfriend could lead to the possibility of one last romp in the sack….you know for old time’s sack.

Gutted.

Thanks for reading and come back next week for another edition of Nick Cave Monday.


Tony DuShane is the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk (Soft Skull Press). He's a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and hosts the radio show Drinks with Tony. His writing has also appeared in Mother Jones, Penthouse and The Believer. Tom Selleck is his facial hair guru. www.tonydushane.com More from this author →