“My mate Bill Gates says it, the President of the United States says it…”
2003 was a confusing and disappointing year for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Sure, they got to headline Homebake and released their 12th studio album Nocturama – but there were consequences. The album pretty much tanked, and founding member Blixa Bargeld left the band not too long after it was all finished. Thankfully, there was one great thing to come out of the Bad Seeds circa Nocturama. And you, dear friends, are about to watch it.
Babe, I’m on Fire is about as anti-single as anything that the Bad Seeds have ever done. It’s 14 minutes long, it features extensive organ solos and the lyrics centre almost entirely around a myriad of people saying the titular phrase. Why they decided it was a good idea to release it is anyone’s guess, but this video will make you forever grateful that they did. For a band with such a brooding manner and a noted lack of humour, it’s worth seeing the entire band at their absolute silliest. Raiding the costume drawer, the Bad Seeds dress up as every single character depicted in the song, from Nick’s “wife with the furniture” to “the doomed homosexual with the persistent cough.” Perhaps this wildness was the place where the idea of Grinderman began to bloom, who knows?
Whatever the case, this is easily amongst Cave’s best videos, if only just to see him as a skinny, cross-dressing nutjob for a minute or fourteen.