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Thursday 29 February 2024

When We Were Beautiful And Young

This song has featured at a few blogs over the last week, a new song from Mick Harvey called When We Were Beautiful And Young. It's dusty, mournful and slow paced, acoustic guitar and organ and Mick's time worn vocal eventually joined by cello and horns. As the video plays, a montage of Mick and friends in younger days from the 1970s onwards, Mick's lyrics unpick the sadness and regret of looking back and the loss of those who have not survived the journey- former bandmates and friends Anita Lane, Tracy Pew, Rowland S. Howard and Conway Savage. 

Mick isn't being entirely nostalgic here, although with lines like 'When we were beautiful and young/ there was time for anything/ And the days slipped through our fingers like golden sand... a thousand verses not yet sung', he's certainly nailing the arrogance and surety of youth, the not caring about the future or of what may happen down the line. He ruefully acknowledges those Bad Seeds who died along the way and the role drugs played in that- 'It all just turned to junk... and there were some who came undone'- and having looked back he concludes that he's fine where he is, late middle age has it's benefits- 'I'm having my time in the sun/ Now I'm not beautiful and young'.

Stirring stuff. You'd expect nothing less from a man who served time as a key member of The Birthday Party, Crime And The City Solution and as a Bad Seed from 1983 to 2010, Nick Cave's co- writer and arranger, a multi- instrumentalist and key driver in the group. When We Were Beautiful And Young is on Mick's forthcoming solo album, Five Ways To Say Goodbye, out in May, a mixture of new songs and covers that you can find here


Anonymous said...

I saw The Birthday Party several times. I turned up at a Brixton gig amazed to see Mick behind the drums (drummer Phil Calvert had left/been sacked), but the band played with even more kinetic fury. I understand Mick played and arranged most of the 'Your Funeral...' album. Indeed if it weren't for his musicianship and diligence Nick may not have maintained his solo career. Mick's new track is a million miles away from the thrill of The Birthday Party, but it's full of tenderness and pathos, and i guess it needed saying. Rock on Mick.

Swiss Adam said...

Agree SRC, he seems to have been the core of the Bad Seeds and Nick's musical direction/ fixer for along time and that Nick might have ground to halt without him there.

There's a great quote which I can't find anywhere, Mick talking about why he left the Bad Seeds in 2010m something like 'I didn't get into rock n roll to play showbusiness', clearly a little disgruntled with the direction they were heading. I believe all are friends still despite it.