Monday, March 24, 2008

If Bad Was a Boot

So, Rob, why did all those children creep you out the other day?

Well, imaginary interviewer, I hadn’t really put it together until now, but I think it might have to do with a little song I'd been listening to by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds called “The Curse of Millhaven,” about a 13-year-old precious little serial killer. I’m not going to reproduce all the lyrics here (you can probably hear the song on Seeqpod), but here’s how she’s introduced:

My name is Loretta, but I prefer Lottie
I’m closing in on my thirteenth year
And if you think you've ever seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didn’t see 'em 'round here
My hair is yellow and I’m always a-combing
La la la la La la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

You must have heard about The Curse Of Millhaven
How last Christmas Bill Blakey’s little boy didn’t come home
They found him the next week down in One Mile Creek
With his head bashed in and his pockets full of stones
You can just imagine all the wailing and moaning
La la la la La la la lie
Even little Bill Blakey’s boy, he had to die

And there’s more and more, as a rash of killings shocks the town, until finally:

Then, in a cruel twist of fate, old Mrs Colgate
Was stabbed but the job was not complete
The last thing she said before the cops pronounced her dead
Was, “My killer is Loretta and she lives across the street!”
Twenty cops burst through my door without even phoning
La la la la La la la lie
The young ones, the old ones, they all gotta die

And this may be my favorite verse:

Yes, it is I, Lottie, the Curse Of Millhaven
I’ve struck horror in the heart of this town
Like my eyes ain’t green and my hair ain’t yellow
It’s more like the other way around
I got a pretty little mouth underneath all the foaming
La la la la La la la lie
Sooner or later, we all gotta die

I love Lottie’s depiction of herself as a monster whose true countenance no one can see. She spits “my eyes ain't green, and my hair aint yella.” I also like this next bit, where she shows a little false regret before pulling the rug out again:

Since I was no bigger than a weevil they’ve been saying I was evil
That if bad was a boot, then I’d fit it
Oh I’m a wicked young lady, but I’ve been trying hard lately
Oh, fuck it! I’m a monster, I admit it!

Now that’s venom.

So Lottie confesses to the murders that she’s charged with, and many, many (many!) more. It’s a catalog of malice, and she’s eventually committed to an asylum.

Now I got shrinks that will not rest with their endless Rorschach tests
I keep telling them I know they’re out to get me
They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, “Why of course!
There is so much more I could have done if they’d let me!”

I really love the song–it’s horrible and terrifying on one level, propelling the listener from one horror to the next (and even one crime she didn’t commit, instead perpetrated by “two junior-high-school psychos: Stinky Bohoun and his friend with the pumpkin-sized head”). Yet it has a level of deep-black humor to it as well—both in Lottie’s unrelenting spite, and just the idea of 39-year-old Nick Cave singing for a 12-year old girl. Like he's a viper in her belly, the demon driving her to do these things.

Anyway: Take a few listens to the song, and then suddenly find yourself surrounded by unfamiliar children. Surely, one of them has a knife—but which one?


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