Man. That show in Eindhoven, Netherlands, last night seems to have been just incredibly great. The photos on Instagram were amazing (Nick Cave’s Conversation). One person had also been to the show in Essen, Germany (which had also looked really great), and said that the show in Eindhoven was even better.
Well, those photos — I couldn’t believe them.
And someone posted a full minute of him singing “Waiting for You,” from Ghosteen, and I really just couldn’t believe how fucking good it was. And it just means that the Ghosteen tour is going to be off the charts.
Crap — you know?! (I say it like that because I will not be attending any of these events.)
Okay, well, tonight he will be back in the Netherlands, in Nijmegen… And I will be so pissed off if it’s really, really good!
Which reminds me, that the other day, when I posted about pre-orders for the Nick Cave art exhibition book — Stranger Than Kindness — I forgot to post the link, which is here.
I’ve also been meaning to post that, at least in the United States, the MP3 edition of Rowland S. Howard’s incredible solo album from 1999, Teenage Snuff Film, will be available for download in early March. You can pre-order it here. (It’s Amazon US, but I don’t know if that means you have to live in the US to download it or not. I’m guessing it will be available for download from everywhere, though.)
Well, gang. The work on Tell My Bones yesterday was really productive — I’m still not finished, but I am really, really close.
The problem is that this one segment deals with racism, Jim Crow and, specifically, lynchings. It is not easy for me to be creative and artistic about all this. I mean, in a sense, it is easy because I feel strongly about it, but it makes me sick to my stomach while I’m doing it. And it wears me out.
And I’m trying to find that balance between making the point and not bombarding the audience with it. Helen, herself, talked to me in only a very minimal way about the racial problems she experienced in her life; her primary focus was her art and her family. Those were the topics that were of utmost importance to her. Plus, her family — even back in 1919, when she was born — were not sharecroppers. They owned their own farm, did reasonably well, and were definitely much better off than the white farmers around them.
She attributed her family’s well-being to their being devout Christians. Still, they were descended from slaves, and they were living in a Jim Crow State. And I felt that something needed to be said about that.
And in wanting to get a better understanding of what Kentucky was like when Helen was born, and specifically in Graves County, I had to research the statistics of lynchings in the State of Kentucky (which, of course, reveals horrible photos, too). It was all just stomach-turning, you know? Even though they did lynch a number of white men, the statistics document that it was overwhelmingly black.
And the statistics are so precise, too — which is also sickening in and of itself. The names, the race, the sex, what they were accused of (usually rape, attempted rape, or murder), the date they were lynched, and which county it took place in. If you’ve documented all of this, then why couldn’t it have been stopped? But it was mob justice. There were 135 lynchings listed in a 39-year sampling. I printed out a table and it took up four pages. And that was just for the State of Kentucky.
You know, when I was 14, I was raped by a black guy and a white guy. And the very last thing I would have ever wanted was for either of them to be hanged. It is just so sickening to me.
It was a relief, though, to see that in the county that my own ancestors herald from, there were no reported lynchings — black or white. My great-great grandfather was a Kentucky State senator, notoriously on the side of the Confederacy– to the extent that he was booted out of the Senate. (Kentucky was a split State; part Union, part Confederate.) And he owned house slaves. But the county he lived in bordered Ohio, as opposed to Tennessee, where the lynchings seemed to get seriously out of control. Logan County, specifically.
I hate to use the word “ironic” here, because of its sarcastic connotations, but it is ironic that I’m a white woman descended from Kentucky slave owners, writing about the life of a black woman descended from Kentucky slaves. I mean, it is what it is, but it’s still indicative of something that’s out of balance. Meaning, I can’t imagine any black writers, descended from slaves, ever writing about me. I could be wrong, of course, but why would they?
Anyway, I undertook the project of writing about Helen’s life primarily because she was a woman and, as a woman myself, I understood her life-long drive to find peace, privacy, and enough money to support herself while she did her art. But there are these other racial elements that, sadly, have to be factored in, as well, even though they were not Helen’s primary concern — in her conversations with me or in her journals.
So, all that considered, I am making good progress with the play. I might even finally finish this new segment today. I am just so close. And then we will be ready for the table-reads in NYC.
Okay, gang. I’m gonna scoot. Got laundry to attend to, then gotta get back to the play. Thanks for visiting. I hope Tuesday is terrific for you, wherever you are in the world!! I leave you with that truly lovely song from Ghosteen, mentioned above. All righty. I love you guys. See ya.