Nick Cave Monday #29: “Avalanche”


Around the year of our Lord 1984, there were fans of The Birthday Party wandering aimless through the streets. Their post-punk gods vanished. But, just like a dude named Jesus, there would soon come a resurrection, into a different body of sorts.

The first song on the first record of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds was a cover of a Leonard Cohen song. “Avalanche” starts with a progressive rumble, like a signaling of a rebirth.

This was how the kids of that era were introduced to The Bad Seeds. Slick your hair back, put on that classy suit and tie, adorn your bling and click the play button below:

Who knew that a Leonard Cohen song could sound like a violent death? I love how Nick snarls, growls and at times in the song sounds like a wounded beast.

Here is Leonard Cohen singing “Avalanche”:

Check out a fun interview from February 2013. It was the first time Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds performed in Mexico. Yeah, who would have thought? Bienvenido compañero Bad Seeders.

Nick did a Q & A before their gig and gave Leonard Cohen props. If you want to skip right to the Leonard Cohen comments, they are at 5:15, but true Bad Seeders will watch this in full. Twice:

Nick found “Songs of Love and Hate” by Leonard Cohen when he was 15 or 16 years old and it seems to have changed his life. “Avalanche” was on that album.

In 1985 The Bad Seeds performed at The Hacienda. Drunk blokes crowd surf along with the dirge of Cohen:

The video is spotty, but it seems Nick has more of a handle on the song as well as what The Bad Seeds were about to do….which was ride the celestial chariot above the murky clouds of pop music.

It has been almost 30 years since their inception, and they ain’t even done yet.

“Avalanche” in Chicago in 1984:

For those of you lucky enough to have heard “Avalanche” live, we salut you.

“Do not dress in those rags for me, I know you are not poor, and do not love me quite so fiercely know, when you know that you are not sure.”

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. His writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Penthouse, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Believer. And, if you’re a Nick Cave fan, check out Nick Cave Monday. More from this author →