Nick Cave Monday #31: “Deanna”

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Deanna was a girl from Melbourne, Australia. She meant so much to Nick she got her own song on the 1988 album, “Tender Prey.” If you have ever seen The Bad Seeds live in the last 25 years there is a very good chance “Deanna” was on the set list.

The Bad Seeds even performed it last week in San Francisco. It was spectacular.

Here’s the original video:

The video was shot by Mick Harvey on 8mm film.

– Up against the white wall guys. Now start lip syncing.

When Grinderman performed at two small venues in San Francisco in 2007, the audience was filled Bad Seeders and rock stars like Henry Rollins. Rollins was in Lebanon for some reason, flew all the way back to California to see Nick’s new project, then went back to Lebanon afterwards. Nick and Henry have history together. Even though the video below is a little spotty, Nick invited Henry and Jello Biafra for the “Deanna” encore at Slim’s in San Francisco.

Jello didn’t know the song, naughty man, so Henry had to give him a quick primer, “Just keep singing Deanna,” he said. I believe. I have been looking for the Henry Rollins video as he tells it…it used to be on the ‘net, now I can’t find it.

“Deanna” live and pretty:

That was 2008, here’s 1998 in Russia:

Nick is a master at balance. Watch his live sets and you’ll see him balance on monitors, on barriers, on people’s heads…..I swear he is a secret tai chi master.

Oh, but this one time:

“Deanna” in 1990:

There is a killer acoustic version of “Deanna” here:

In that version, Nick kicks in his gospel influence by adding a couple of lines from “Oh Happy Day”:

I had to grab the Elvis Presley version, though the song dates further back than that. And, what’s up with the cast from The Sopranos in the crowd?

Last Tuesday, Nick performed at Civic Center in San Francisco. Earlier he dedicated “Wide Lovely Eyes” to his wife and after they played “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry” Nick said, “This song is about a girl.”

“Is it your wife?” someone yelled from the crowd.

“She may as well have been.”

Sad to say, but I don’t think the San Francisco crowd was contributing as they should: flipping out, writhing every second at the Church of Nick and reaching out for a chance to touch the fitted suit of Our Lord of The Bad Seeds.

Or there were issues with the venue or sound since I shouldn’t make such a hasty decision regarding SF Bad Seeders…..still, where John Hell and I were in the crowd we danced our asses off. Unfortunately most people around us had their arms folded and were slightly nodding their heads. (Trespassers, not Bad Seeders.)

On the set list was “Into My Arms” (the greatest love song ever) and they skipped it and performed “The Weeping Song.” Then they skipped three songs for a second encore that were ready to go. My man Patrick McCracken showed me the set list and other songs we missed, “God is in the House”, “People Ain’t No Good”, and the one that rips at my heart that could have been: “Stranger Than Kindness.”

I wept outside when I saw the set list. No, it was more like I got something in my eye, then it watered. A true Bad Seeder holds in their tears and shows their despair, sorrows and murders with lyrics and song.

The show started with four tracks from “Push The Sky Away” and they paused for a moment. Then Nick said the words everyone wants to hear: “I wanna tell you about a girl.”

It was that girl from room 29….and the next hour they pummeled our souls the best of The Bad Seeds.

It was religious, amazing, erotic, violent, [insert your adjective here].

Is Deanna still alive? Does she know she will live forever in song?

“I ain’t down here for your money, I ain’t down her for your love,
I ain’t down here for your love or money, I’m down here for your soul.”

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 →