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For the past 10 years or so, Nick Cave turned his raucous career into quiet, beautiful (albeit dark) ballads. It’s sort of a typical phase of an artist growing old and mellowing out. I followed for awhile, and then drifted away, as I’ve still got a taste for the raucous. During this 10 year phase, I saw him on Letterman a few times, at a grand piano, telling a story I doubted the tens of millions of viewers were likely to get, or be interested in. Nonetheless, his songwriting was inspiring to me, and I trusted everything he did. I just stopped listening.

Then, along comes 2007, Cave grows a fu-manchu moustache, and starts a garage punk band called Grinderman. It is one of the greatest rock and roll albums I’ve heard in a long time, capturing the energy of his early Birthday Party stuff, as well as highlights of The Bad Seeds peak moments of intensity. Pleasantly brutal stuff, and a total surprise for him to whip this out after a decade of winding down. Genius. I’m listening again.

Who of us will have the energy for this level of reinvention when we’re the age of Mr. Cave? Who of us even has it now?

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