Monthly Archives: June 2011

Nick Cave on “Saudade”


“We all experience within us what the Portuguese call “saudade”, an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul, and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration, and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the love song.  Saudade is the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world.  The love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting up though our wounds.

In his brilliant lecture, The Theory And Function Of Duende, Federico Garcia Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives at the heart of certain works of art.  “All that has dark sounds has ‘duende’,” he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.”  Contemporary rock music seems less inclined to have at its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about.  Excitement, often, anger, sometimes – but true sadness, rarely.  Bob Dylan has always had it.  Leonard Cohen deals specifically with it.  It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and, though he tries to, he cannot escape it.  Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it.  My friends The Dirty 3 have it by the bucketload.  But, all in all, it would appear that the duende is too fragile to survive the compulsive modernity of the music industry.  In the hysterical technocracy of modern music, sorrow is sent to the back of the class, where it sits, pissing its pants in mortal terror.  Duende, needs space to breathe.  Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence.  I feel sorry for sadness, as we jump all over it, denying its voice and muscling it into the outer reaches.  No wonder sorrow doesn’t smile much.  No wonder sadness is so sad.”

(Thank you Eduardo)

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