#857: 1986, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Carny

by George_East on February 18, 2014

I’ve just got back from a few days in Berlin for the 64th Berlin Film Festival (about which more at the weekend).  It was my 6th Berlinale in a row.

As ever the city was fantastic – great bars, great beer, hearty food and some superb cinematic treats (as well as a few stinkers).   It is my favourite city in Europe – one of the few places other than London I can imagine living, notwithstanding my less than minimal German.

In previous years I have posted songs from the peerless Iggy Pop/David Bowie Berlin albums of 1977-1979.  This year though I am marking the occasion by one of the most Berlin songs of all.  Nick Cave’s dark and haunting The Carny (from the superb Your Funeral My Trial album) was not only recorded in Berlin (where Cave was living at the time – like Iggy before him, smacked out of his head most of the time) but was also famously used by Wim Wenders in that most elegiac and magical of Berlin films, Wings of Desire – a big favourite of mine in my student years.

In the film Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are playing the song live in a Berlin bar in which Bruno Ganz’s angel, Damiel, meets trapeze artist, Marion (Solveig Donmartin).  It is still a song that appears in Cave’s live sets.

It is a song of cinematic sounds and imagery worthy of a gothic horror film from the height of German expressionism in the 1920s:


And the rain came hammering down

Everybody running for their wagons

Tying all the canvas flaps down

The mangy cats growling in their cages

The bird-girl flapping and squawking around

The whole valley reeking of wet beast

Wet beast and rotten, sodden hay

Freak and brute creation

Packed up and on their way’


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