Stretch’s Scary Halloween Song No.3: The Carny

Eight minutes of doom and gloom following a circus troop through what seems to be an Irish-summer worth of rain in a tale full of dread, dwarves, nags and other scary things from Nick Cave’s imagination.  If you feeble-types get a chance, read his novel, And The Ass Saw The Angel.  It has similar themes of dread, but less rain.

Anyway I got into Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds when I got the Tender Prey album as a teenager. This album made me bin the remainder of my Doors albums, although in fairness I had vomited on a number of my tapes, after a lot of the red sick-maker Southern Comfort. I drank more than my littul body could cope with. I still have some of the crusted tapes. The Doors seemed fake compared to Nick Cave. He seemed more powerful, more energetic, more real, more European (despite being from Oz), more me.

The second album of his I got was Your Funeral My Trial, which contains some of my favourite songs of all time. The shit-kicker at the end “Scum” about two journalists: “they gave me a bad review, and maybe you think it’s just water under the bridge. Well, my young friend, I’m the type who holds a grudge.”

I would listen to this album to get me to sleep for months, and every night “the Carny” unnerved little Stretch.  The glockenspiel and xylophone hammer away through the song driving forward this march of circus freaks. I would shiver thinking about the rain and the poor starving horse. All the employees scared shitless, because the Carny had gone and an uneasiness is there. They don’t want him to come back.  They bury his horse, but seem to be afraid of it.

Well, I as a little Stretch would be lying in the dark, the crackling end of my joint providing ample light to see shadows move around my room; faces appearing and disappearing.  Noises heard in strange parts of the room. A slow feeling of panic would rise and fall with each illumination. The marching beat would continue and my eyes flick around unnerved by I don’t know what and then the xylophone would end the song and I would shake myself out of this trip, lean down, hit rewind and do it all again.

The vid below is from the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, in which Nick plays live. Good clip as it’s when Nick was at his mostest.

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