Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man, in a dusty black coat with a red right hand"

Skin-crawlingly creepy and practically radiating an aura of pure evil, Nick Cave's decidedly sinister "Red Right Hand" is just about the most perfect lyrical narrative of Mephistopheles and his deeds ever laid down on record. The song itself doesn't allude to the Adversary by any known name, but the verses alone are enough to conjure up the appropriate imagery:

"He'll wrap you in his arms, tell you that you've been a good boy,
He'll rekindle all the dreams it took you a lifetime to destroy."

"He'll reach deep into the hole, heal your shrinking soul,
But there won't be a single thing that you can do."

"You'll see him in your nightmares, you'll see him in your dreams,
He'll appear out of nowhere, but he ain't what he seems."

Coupled with a highly atmospheric instrumental backing (queasy, carnival-esque organs, doomy-sounding bells, sudden oscillator bursts, Cave's own American Gothic-preacher vocalisations), and you have a theatrical, noirish piece that is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Galvanising to no end.


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