Song of the day – 452: Dirty Three
A friend just asked me for a mix of my Top 5 heartbroken songs. Coincidentally, I was listening to a demo version of this:
I have no idea whether, strictly, it qualifies. How important is the intention in music to the receiver? Most of what I base my love of Dirty Three on – and I find myself continually surprised at how much I do love them, like maybe sometimes I think they’re a classic case of wool being pulled across myopic eyes but then I continually rediscover it’s not like that at all – is based on my first few encounters with them, that must have taken place in or around 1996. (They were going in ’96, right?) Everything is fucked when you open the fridge door. Everything is fucked when you open the fridge door and you’re gasping for a beer and it’s 5am in the morning and your girlfriend’s just left you for a bloke with a surfboard and a koala and all you want to do is drown your sorrows and you open the fridge door and there’s nothing there, not even a fucking half-open tin of beans. Everything is fucked when you wake in the morning and realise that no one’s near you, no one’s left you, you’re exactly where you were the night before, on your own, and there’s no room for change, nothing will change, because everything is fucked. I mean, ‘Deep Waters’ (the song above) could be the most beautiful, heartfelt, gorgeous and happy love song around, but to me such beauty will always be tinged by sadness, by the knowledge that just around the corner … everything is fucked.
First time I saw Dirty Three play live – a mostly empty, cavernous venue – they had to delay their performance by 15 minutes because I’d downed two pint glasses of straight vodka and had had one of my (back then, familiar) choking fits and they were debating among themselves whether I was going to die or not, not in a nasty way, more in a concerned, what the fuck we going to do, way. Everything is fucked. I’m sure this is a love song, but all the greatest love songs are tinged by melancholy and disillusionment and the knowledge that nothing is permanent, that just around the corner … everything is fucked.
It’s so gorgeous. I find myself continually, wonderfully surprised whenever I listen to the Dirty Three, that their music really does mean so much to me. Maybe they’re my ‘Hallelujah’ moment (can’t abide that song). Maybe they’re my Joey Ramoney.
One of the greatest shows I ever saw was when, by chance, I caught Dirty Three playing a gig round the corner from where we were staying in Hobart, Tasmania, in a raucous bar where great arcs of phlegm and smoke filled the air and the welcome sound of glasses clinking filled the bar. I’m sure Warren Ellis is one of those folk I’ve downed 13 shots in 13 minutes with, but that might be David Yow. Whatever.
For when words are pointless.