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The Twisted Words Of Nick Cave

The Australian singer-composer and his band The Bad Seeds are best known for his angry, twisted ballad-like lyrics. Their most recent albums were last year's Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! and Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

20:17

Other segments from the episode on September 25, 2009

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, September 25, 2009: Interview with Matt Weiner, Jon Hamm and John Slattery; Interview with Nick Cave.

Transcript

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The Men Behind AMC's Hit 'Mad Men'

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli of TVWorthWatching.com, sitting
in for Terry Gross.

Last year, AMC’s “Mad Men” made TV history as the first basic cable
series to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Last weekend, it
made history again by repeating that victory. Today, we’ll listen back
to Terry’s interviews with writer/producer Matthew Weiner, who created
“Mad Men,” and with two stars of the show, Jon Hamm and John Slattery.

“Mad Men” is set in the early ‘60s at the fictional advertising agency
Sterling Cooper, run by white, Protestant men who drink, smoke and
womanize. The show revolves around the ad campaigns the agency comes up
with and the personal lives of the people who work at the agency. Terry
spoke with Matthew Weiner, creator of “Mad Men,” last year and with John
Hamm and co-star John Slattery, who plays ad executive Roger Sterling.
They’ll join the conversation in a few minutes.

Matthew Weiner was an executive producer and writer for HBO’s “The
Sopranos” before moving on to “Mad Men.” Last year’s conversation with
Terry began with a clip from Season 2, a key one in the ongoing
development of Peggy Olson, the character played by Elisabeth Moss. The
agency is working on an ad campaign for Playtex bras, which has been
emphasizing comfort but is considering playing to women’s fantasies,
like it’s rival, Maidenform.

Kinsey, a young associate, suggests that they play to the idea that all
women see themselves as either a Jackie, Jackie Kennedy, or a Marilyn,
Marilyn Monroe. Peggy, who has risen from secretary to copywriter, isn’t
so sure.

(Soundbite of television program, “Mad Men”)

Ms. ELISABETH MOSS (Actor): (As Peggy Olson) I don’t know if all women
are a Jackie or a Marilyn. Maybe men see them that way.

Mr. MICHAEL GLADIS (Actor): (As Paul Kinsey) Bras are for men. Women
want to see themselves the way men see them.

Mr. BRYAN BATT (Actor): (As Sal Romano) You’re a Jackie or a Marilyn, a
line and a curve. Nothing goes better together.

Ms. MOSS: (As Peggy) Which do you think I am?

Unidentified Man: (As character) Gertrude Stein.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BATT: (As Sal) I would say you’re more classical, Hellenic.

Unidentified Man #2: (As character) Irene Dunne.

Unidentified Man #3: (As character) Oh, I love Irene Dunne.

Mr. JON HAMM: (As Don Draper) Peggy, you’re going to have company on
this. Congratulations, Kinsey. You forced your way onto an account.

TERRY GROSS, host:

Matthew Weiner, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Mr. MATTHEW WEINER (Creator, “Mad Men”): It’s great to be here, Terry.

GROSS: And we’ll meet Jon Hamm and John Slattery in a second. Let’s
start with the scene that we just heard. You know, it’s all these men
deciding what will make women buy a bra and assuming that they know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEINER: Yeah, exactly.

GROSS: What made you think about using a bra campaign?

Mr. WEINER: There was this idea from the beginning that we were going to
talk about pantyhose, which had just come out and really kind of
revolutionize everything because they were preferred by working women
and by women in general, but they were really reviled by men and didn’t
catch on right away, and they were very expensive. And then we started
talk about the, you know, most products, consumer products, are bought
by women, and of course, most people in advertising are men. And there
is an idea where you start to realize that the way that women perceive
themselves is going to be dictated by men, if that’s the marketing
campaign.

And of course, Peggy is put on all of the campaigns, as they would do,
you know, find a woman to deal with food and home-related things and
underwear, but at the same time, her opinion is not really as valuable
as the men’s. So the bra just became a perfect sort of example, and
we’ve established that Playtex was one of their clients. And you know,
I’m always interested in where’s the boundary at which point where men
can stop speaking for women.

GROSS: But in a way, bras are like the invisible star of the show
because a lot of the actresses seem to be wearing those kind of pointy,
padded, bullet bras that were a mainstay of Hollywood in the ‘50s and
early ‘60s.

Mr. WEINER: Well, yeah, they are. I mean, Janie Bryant(ph), our costume
designer – I mean, I insisted that everything be accurate, but what we
started talking about is that the silhouette of a woman’s body, they
could change it every year as the styles changed by just altering the
underwear. Now, it’s all determined by exercise.

I wrote it into the show, just the actresses would have to go to the
bathroom, and you’d have to have 25 minutes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEINER: And you’re, like, what is going on? What is going on?
They’re like: You do not what is going on down there. There is so much
stuff to take off and put on, and it’s really about taking whatever body
you have and physically molding it into the silhouette that was in style
at that time.

GROSS: What was the germ of the idea for “Mad Men”? What came to you
first?

Mr. WEINER: The first thing that came to me is that I was interested in
doing something about – there’s two things. One was the period, and that
was a germ that I had separately. I sort of wanted to do something about
the office, like the executive-suite office, “Cash McCall,” those
movies, patterns that I knew from the ‘50s and early ‘60s. But then
there was – I wanted to do something about what I considered to be the
people who run the country, who were raised in the Great Depression and
had childhoods that were kind of dark. And I was interested in identity
and men and what – where we are, who we look up to. How are we supposed
to behave now? There’s no model for us. And I just kept digging back
further and further and finding that there’s never been a model, and I
was really most interested in that character of Don. That’s the germ of
the idea.

GROSS: My guest is Matthew Weiner. He is the creator of the AMC series
“Mad Men,” and he’s also written and directed episodes of the series.
And in a moment we’ll be hearing from two of the stars of the show, Jon
Hamm and John Slattery.

The last episode of season one has one of my favorite moments from the
series, and this is an episode, Matthew, that you wrote and directed.
And in this episode, Don Draper has put together a presentation for one
of the clients that they’re trying to land, and it’s Kodak. And Kodak
has this new slide and slide-projection system where the slides are all
on a wheel, and they’re calling it The Wheel. And Draper’s pitching them
an ad campaign and a concept for the ad campaign, and in this scene,
midway through his pitch, he starts showing slides. And the slides
happen to be slides of his own family moments, some of his most warm
family moments, him nuzzling with his wife when they were younger, one
of his children when they were an infant, really nostalgic scenes like
that. And in the meantime, his own family life is actually in a lot of
trouble.

So I’d like you to talk about writing this scene, why you chose the
slides as this, like slide carousel as the object you wanted to write
the ad campaign for and if you had to get permission from Kodak to do
it.

Mr. WEINER: We did not get Kodak’s permission, although it’s an amazing
ad for a product that no one’s interested in anymore. What happened is,
is that I knew that I wanted to tell this story about nostalgia. And I
knew that I wanted to show that Don, the character, has realized that
his brother, who has come back to him, has killed himself and that he
has estranged himself from his family, and he’s there with his family
slides. But what I wanted to do was I wanted to get this idea of
nostalgia in there, and I actually – my advertising consultant, Josh
Weltman(ph), I’m like, what product can I use here?

And I kept thinking about – Kodak has always had such an incredibly
wonderful, sentimental ad campaign. You know, Kleenex has them,
whatever, but I asked him what came out that year? What can you find?

And he comes in, and he says: You’re not going to believe this. And he
mentions it to me because I always wanted Don to be showing personal
pictures in this thing. I didn’t know it could be a slide projector. I
thought it might be a camera or something. And it was like an explosion
in my brain when he told me about the Carousel, and I was, like, this is
perfect.

And it was also kind of a surprise because it fit into everything we’d
been talking about that season, too, because everything in advertising
at that point was about technology. The new technology was the way to
sell the product. And so you knew that Don had a problem with
technology, wasn’t interested in space travel. He wasn’t interested in
going to the moon. He wasn’t interested in a lot of things that were all

about that. So it just – it was a perfect – a lot of times it happens on
the show where you have an idea, and it just works out. And I don’t know
how to explain it, but we’ve been very lucky that way.

GROSS: So here’s the scene from “Mad Men” featuring Jon Hamm as Don
Draper, and remember, midway through this presentation, he’s going to
start showing slides from his own family moments.

(Soundbite of television program, “Mad Men”)

Mr. JON HAMM (Actor): (As Don Draper) My first job, I was in-house at a
fur company, and this old pro copywriter, a Greek named Teddy, and Teddy
told me the most important idea in advertising is new. It creates an
itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion.
But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product: nostalgia. It’s
delicate but potent. Sweetheart?

(Soundbite of projector)

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally
means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more
powerful than memory alone.

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine.

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) It goes backwards, forwards…

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) …takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) It’s not called the Wheel. It’s called the Carousel.

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) It lets us travel the way a child travels…

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) …around and around and back home again…

(Soundbite of projector)

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) …to a place where we know we are loved.

(Soundbite of projector)

GROSS: That’s Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from the AMC series “Mad
Men,” and Jon Hamm, welcome to the conversation.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HAMM: Thank you, Terry.

GROSS: That’s a great scene. You’re so terrific in it. It’s a really
heartbreaking scene because your character knows he’s having such
trouble in his personal life as he’s showing these wonderful slides and
talking about nostalgia. Jon Hamm, tell us how you found out about this
role and first went on the audition for it.

Mr. HAMM: It was – you know, there’s this mythical season in Los Angeles
called pilot season. So I had gone out on several pilot auditions and
gotten fairly far on them, and then something happened, and I didn’t get
it. But this one script came and I read it, and I thought well, this is
for AMC. Who’s – they don’t make television. They show old movies. But I
read it, and I said I have to be in this project at some point. I have
to do something on this. This is so good. And I basically had to start
at the very bottom. I was the – I didn’t know the casting directors, and
they didn’t know me, so they wanted to do what’s curiously called a pre-
read with me, which is you meet the casting directors, and they read you
and decide if they want to sort of take you to the next level. So I
started literally at the very bottom of the process and worked my way up
from there.

GROSS: Matthew Weiner, why did you hire Jon Hamm in your leading role as
Don Draper?

Mr. WEINER: Well, first of all, there’s something that Jon is leaving
out, which people may not know, which is that auditioning – when you get
to a certain point in your career, you really don’t expect to audition
even anymore. And certainly for a leading role like that, you do expect
it, but there’s really a hierarchy of who has to audition, and what it
is. And I – this thing was so important to me that I was, like, I will
not hire anybody who won’t audition. So everyone had to audition, and
the casting directors knew that, and they knew that Jon was the guy, and
they wanted him to be perfect when I saw him. And what happened was he
came in, and literally, his first audition, he left, and I said that’s
the guy.

He has this incredible intelligence, and you could see it right away. He
understood everything that was going on there without any direction. And
he had this presence that was both, it was an old-fashioned leading-man
quality. You don’t even see these people anymore. You know, there’s many
more guys like Seth Rogen getting the girl, you know, nowadays than,
like, Jon Hamm, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I’m
much more of a Seth Rogen type.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEINER: But in my fantasy, you know, of who this man was, and I told
them I wanted James Garner, you know, and they’re like well, you know,
he can’t play it. And Jon came in, and there’s also a depth to Jon.
There’s something about his eyes and his intelligence that I just felt,
well, this is not a glib ad man. This is a man who has lived, who’s an
adult, who has some secrets, who has a heart, who understands women. I
felt all that from just watching him audition the very first time, and I
have it on record because I said it out loud to a lot of people.

And then it was just a matter, because we were with a new network, it
was a matter of just trying to sell this person who was not famous as
the star of the show, and I can say quite honestly, and Jon knows this,
too, that I basically told them that I would not do the show if Jon was
not the lead.

BIANCULLI: Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm speaking to Terry Gross. Last
Sunday, “Mad Men” won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for the
second year in a row. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: Let’s get back to Terry’s 2008 conversation with “Mad Men”
creator Matthew Weiner and star Jon Hamm. Co-star John Slattery, who
plays Roger Sterling, is about to join the conversation.

GROSS: I want to bring John Slattery into the conversation, and John
Slattery plays Roger Sterling, who is the son of the late co-founder of
the advertising agency, Sterling Cooper, so now he’s, like, one of the
partners of it. And he’s of a generation, like, one generation older
than Don Draper in the series. And in this scene – I’m going to play a
scene with Roger Sterling and Don Draper. So in this scene, Sterling has
just walked into Draper’s office with a bottle of liquor and is sitting
down, and they’re kind of comparing generational differences. And the
scene starts with John Slattery as Roger Sterling.

(Soundbite of television program, “Mad Men”)

Mr. JOHN SLATTERY (Actor): (As Roger Sterling) I bet daily friendship
with that bottle attracts more people to advertising than any salary you
could dream of.

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) That’s why I got in.

Ms. SLATTERY: (As Roger) So enjoy it.

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) I’m doing my best here.

Mr. SLATTERY: (As Roger) No, you’re not. You don’t know how to drink,
your whole generation. You drink for the wrong reasons. My generation,
we drink because it’s good, because it feels better than unbuttoning
your collar, because we deserve it. We drink because it’s what men do.

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) What about shaky hands? I see a lot of that, too,
with you boys.

Mr. SLATTERY: (As Roger) No joke. Your kind, with your gloomy thoughts
and your worries, you’re all busy licking some imaginary wound.

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) Not all imaginary.

Mr. SLATTERY: (As Roger) Yeah, boo-hoo.

Mr. HAMM: (As Don) Maybe I’m not as comfortable being powerless as you
are.

Mr. SLATTERY: (As Roger) Pardon?

GROSS: That’s Jon Hamm and John Slattery in a scene from “Mad Men.” John
Slattery, welcome to the conversation.

Mr. SLATTERY: Thanks, Terry.

GROSS: So how did you find out about “Mad Men,” and how did you end up
auditioning for it?

Mr. SLATTERY: I was in New York doing a play, and I was sent the script.
And I’ve said this before, and Matt hasn’t corrected me, so I’m going to
stick with this version, which is that I read it thinking that they
needed the character of Don Draper, which I was, of course, very happy
about. I thought, you know, usually it’s some 65-year-old guy that they
send me a script for. So I prepared the part of Don Draper and went in
and read…

GROSS: This is because your hair is gray, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SLATTERY: That’s right, among other things. And so I worked on it
and went in and read with Matt and Alan Taylor(ph), who directed the
pilot, and I think I had gone through it maybe twice. I think they
actually had me go through it again before telling me: Here’s the thing.
We have that guy. We want you to play this other guy, of which there was
not as much.

Mr. WEINER: Well, I hate to tell John this on the air, Beth Bowling(ph)
and Kim Misha(ph), our casting directors, I wanted him to play Roger
from the beginning, and they told me there was no way he would come in
and read for that part. And I said, well, get him in here, and he came
in and started reading Don, and it was a surprise to me, too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEINER: And all I did was keep working with him, as I figured out,
like, how do I tell him I want him to play this other part, which is
really for a man much older than John. But…

Mr. SLATTERY: See, there you go.

Mr. WEINER: …I brought it down to a different age. And you know, the
tough part was not just getting John to do the pilot but afterwards just
telling him, promising him, which I guess people do a lot in show
business, but promising him that I would take care of this character and
that he was very important to me.

BIANCULLI: We’re listening to a conversation with “Mad Men” creator
Matthew Weiner and actors Jon Hamm and John Slattery. “Mad Men” is set
in the early 1960s. Terry asked Jon Hamm, who stars in the show, how he
got into character for the period.

Mr. HAMM: I had always sort of been a fan of that period and the art and
the literature and the cinema that came out it, you know, anything in
the sort of Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau crowd, and of course, Billy
Wilder movies. And on a more personal level, my father was sort of a
big-deal businessman in St. Louis in this time, in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
And he was – worked for a company that his grandfather and his father
had owned. So I literally, just looking through old photo albums, and I
could see - I mean, here was this guy, this man who was the sort of
master of his domain and the sort of ease with which he moved through
this world. St. Louis is obviously a much smaller pond than Madison
Avenue in New York City, but that kind of largesse and ease was a big
part of what informed my interpretation of Don.

GROSS: I’ve got to ask you a question about that. Your character of Don
has a way of kind of crossing his legs. It’s a kind of power position
for him. When he crosses his legs, it’s like I own extra space around
me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: I own all the space around my body. Did your father kind of sit
that way?

Mr. HAMM: Yeah, he was a big guy. He was about 6’3”, and he owned the
space he was in. He was a very friendly, very gregarious, very fun, very
funny guy, but he also had, you know, a lot of sadness in his life. My
father met my mother, who was a secretary, and they got married, but my
mother was my father’s second wife. His first wife died at a very young
age, and my mother, his second wife, also died at a very young age. So
this is a man who had a tremendous amount of sadness for being in such a
sort of powerful and elevated position in his life. He did have a lot of
sadness.

So I didn’t have to look too far to find any kind of inspiration for
this guy. And you know, my father passed away when I was 20. So it’s a
drag that he doesn’t get a chance to see this because I think he would
really enjoy the result.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you all for talking with us, and
congratulations on the show. Thanks very much, John Slattery, Jon Hamm
and Matthew Weiner.

Mr. WEINER: Thanks so much for having us.

Mr. SLATTERY: It was very nice, Terry.

Mr. HAMM: It’s very exciting, thanks.

BIANCULLI: Matthew Weiner, Jon Hamm and John Slattery, speaking to Terry
Gross last year. Last Sunday, AMC’s “Mad Men” won the Emmy as
Outstanding Drama Series for the second year in a row. I’m David
Bianculli, and this is FRESH AIR.
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The Twisted Words Of Nick Cave

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli sitting in for Terry Gross.

Our next guest, singer-songwriter Nick Cave, is famous for his dark
songs and for his rough voice, which brings out all the dark colors in
those songs. But he also writes novels which, no surprise, are somewhat
dark and rough as well as playfully twisted. His second book, "The Death
of Bunny Munro: A Novel," has just been published. The character in the
title, Bunny Munro, is a door-to-door lotion salesman in England. At the
start of the book, he's making the rounds seducing a string of beautiful
housewives, but before long Bunny's life, like the book, takes a much
more somber turn.

Nick Cave grew up in Australia and now lives in England. He wrote the
screenplay for the bloody western "The Proposition" and co-wrote the
scores for that film and for another western, the 2007 movie "The
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

Terry spoke with Nick Cave last year when his CD "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!"
was released. Here’s the title track.

(Soundbite of song, "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!")

Mr. NICK CAVE (Singer-Songwriter, author): (Singing) Dig yourself.
Laz'rus dig yourself. Laz'rus dig yourself. Laz'rus dig yourself back in
that hole. Larry made his nest up in the autumn branches, built from
nothing but high hopes and thin air. He collected up some baby blasted
mothers who took their chances and for a while they lived quite happily
up there. He came from New York City man, but he couldn't take the pace.
He thought it was like dog eat dog world. Then he went to San Francisco,
spent a year in outer space with a sweet little San Franciscan girl. I
can hear my mother wailing and a whole lot of scraping of chairs. I
don't know what it is but there's definitely something going on
upstairs. Dig yourself. Laz'rus dig yourself. Laz'rus dig yourself.
Laz'rus dig yourself back in that hole.

TERRY GROSS, host:

Nick Cave, welcome to FRESH AIR. Tell me the story behind writing that
song. What made you think about writing a song that refers to Lazarus?

Mr. CAVE: I think I was getting some kind of revenge on my religious
upbringing. I was - particularly as a child it worried me a lot, that
particular story, that Christ’s greatest miracle was actually bringing
someone back from the dead, and that kind of, as a child, creeped me out
somewhat, to be honest. It didn’t exactly traumatize me, but it felt
kind of nice to sort of redress that in some kind of way and write a
song about it. So I basically took the biblical Lazarus and dropped him
in New York City and kind of a half comical look at what would happen to
him in a contemporary world.

GROSS: You said that you see the song as revenge for your religious
upbringing. So many of your songs refer, you know, have biblical
references or references to Jesus or God. And some of them in a more
straightforward way, some in a more elliptical way, some in a comic way,
some in a cynical way, some in a searching or a loving way. Was that
always true of your songs or is this something more recent?

Mr. CAVE: I think it was always true. I can remember as very young
writing poetry and the stories from the Bible always played a, you know,
there was always a strong element of that even in my very, very early
poetry, which I'm not going to...

GROSS: Recite for us now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAVE: ...recite for...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAVE: But there was a kind of fascination. There was a fascination
when I, you know, I was a choir boy at school and at the cathedral that
I went to and I had to go to church maybe three times a week for about
three or four years and I was actually kind of interested, especially in
the biblical stories.

GROSS: How old were you when you started reading the Bible?

Mr. CAVE: I kind of got into the Bible because I went to art school and
became very interested in religious painting.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. CAVE: And a lot of that was because I understood the stories. I knew
what those paintings were about and I took a great interest in them. And
then I think after that I started to kind of read particularly the Old
Testament a lot and I did that for quite a few years, and that had a
huge influence over the way I saw the world, really, and also the songs
that I wrote at that time. You know, and then I kind of gave that up and
looked at the New Testament after a while.

GROSS: So what are the differences...

Mr. CAVE: But it’s only kind of one element of what I'm doing, really.

GROSS: But what's the difference between your Old Testament and your New
Testament songs?

Mr. CAVE: Well, I think that there's a kind of more humanistic approach
to the characters in my songs, more forgiving approach to the
narratives.

GROSS: Well, I want to play another track from your new CD, "Dig!!!
Lazarus Dig!!!," and this one also has a Jesus reference to it. It's
called "Jesus of the Moon." It's a beautiful song. I mean it's a love
song. Would you talk a little bit about writing this song?

Mr. CAVE: Well, you know, I mean I think that this particular record,
"Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!," despite the title is it's probably the least
obsessed or religiously obsessed record I've made in years. It's really
not about that. And there is a song called "Jesus of the Moon," really,
but I just felt it was a kind of nifty way of describing a sleeping
woman and a sleeping woman that I was kind of departing from. It just
felt good to describe her in that way.

But it's - I guess the reason why it’s on the record, this particular
song, even though it's not really a ballad record and this is very much
a ballad, is that it felt like to me a kind of fresh take for me on the
leaving a woman type of song that I often write. There seemed to be a
kind of rebirth in the whole thing that sounded kind of nice to me.

GROSS: Oh, I think it’s a great song. Let's hear it. This is "Jesus of
the Moon" from Nick Cave's new CD, which is called "Dig!!! Lazarus
Dig!!!"

(Soundbite of song, "Jesus of the Moon")

Mr. CAVE: (Singing) I stepped out of the St. James Hotel, I'd left you
behind curled up like a child. A change is gonna come, and as the door
whispered shut I walked on down the high-windowed hall. You lay sleeping
on the unmade bed, the weatherman on the television in the St. James
Hotel said that the rains are gonna come. And I stepped out on the
street all sparkling clean with the early morning dew. Maybe it was you
or maybe it was me? You came on like a punch in the heart. You’re lying
there with the light on your hair like a Jesus of the moon. A Jesus of
the planets and the stars.

GROSS: That's Nick Cave's song "Jesus of the Moon" from his new CD
"Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!." You live in England now but you grew up in
Australia. Would you describe the town you grew up in?

Mr. CAVE: It's called Wangaratta. I mean it’s about 18,000 people and it
was - but with very much a kind of small town mentality, and to be
honest, I was quite happy to get out of there.

GROSS: Because?

Mr. CAVE: Well, it was very restrictive and all the stuff that I find
difficult with Australia is amplified a thousand-fold in these small
towns, and that's if you kind of stick your head too high above the
parapet it gets lopped off, if you understand what I mean. Everyone has
to be kind of the same, you know, and hunker down, and I didn’t - I
wasn’t kind of interested in that, so it was quite difficult for me. It
was quite difficult for my family in general, actually.

GROSS: Well, it’s hard for me to imagine you fitting into a place like
that.

Mr. CAVE: Well, I didn’t, and I got sent to Melbourne when I was about
12. It just wasn’t working out in this town for me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Sent to a boarding school?

Mr. CAVE: I got sent to a boarding school in Melbourne.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And was that - that's a more metropolitan place.

Mr. CAVE: Well, a more metropolitan - I mean it had - that also had its
problems as well. But you know, I mean there's a lot about growing up in
the country that I loved, especially as a child, and my youth - my
childhood was spent, you know, down by the river and all of that sort of
stuff and it was very free and very happy, actually. But as a teenager,
you know, around that time in Wangaratta, it was very difficult.

GROSS: Did you have access, either in Wangaratta or in Melbourne, to the
movies and music and books that eventually meant a lot to you?

Mr. CAVE: Well I did. You know, when I was nine or 10 we got "The Johnny
Cash Show," for example, in Australia, that was shown in Australia...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. CAVE: ...on a weekly basis. So I watched that and that had a huge
impact on me. My brother, who was four years older, was very into music
and listened to a lot of kind of great music and so I was very much
influenced by what he listened to, a lot of English progressive music.
You know, so you know, I was around music a lot.

GROSS: What impact did Johnny Cash have on you?

Mr. CAVE: Well, I remember distinctly watching "The Johnny Cash Show"
and my ideas about what music could be changing. You know, the gears
kind of shifted and something happened with the whole chemistry. My
whole chemistry kind of changed watching that. There was something that
didn’t really understand then, I guess, that was so kind of edgy about
that particular show.

GROSS: And Johnny Cash himself, you know, in addition to his just
incredibly moving voice, he was able to sing both about the spiritual
and do really convincing murder ballads and revenge ballads.

Mr. CAVE: Yeah. I mean the way I looked at him when I was young was that
he was an outlaw. You know, I'm talking about a young boy who was nine
or 10 watching this kind of stuff. But he seemed like - it seemed like
that rock 'n' roll or music could be an outlaw kind of thing that
operated on the periphery of society in some way.

BIANCULLI: Nick Cave speaking Terry Gross last year. More after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Terry's 2008 interview with singer-
songwriter Nick Cave. He's just published his second book, "The Death of
Bunny Munro: A Novel."

GROSS: If you don’t mind my bringing this up, your father was killed by
a car accident when you were 19.

Mr. CAVE: Yeah.

GROSS: I'm wondering what it did to your sense of justice of there being
a God in this world, of your sense of vulnerability and impermanence to
have something like that happen when you were relatively young.

Mr. CAVE: Well, I think it had a huge impact. You know, my world became
decidedly different almost overnight. It changed from being a relatively

safe world to being a very unsure place, and I pretty much left, you
know, I lived at home with my mother but I pretty much left home after
that and went what we Australians say is overseas, which is to England.

Mr. CAVE: He had been an English teacher. Was he an influence on you in
terms of writing or the books that you read?

Mr. CAVE: I mean was a massive influence. You know, he was a smart guy
and very well-read and, you know, and I'd be sitting around at home
reading something or other and he would say, you know, I'd be reading a
crime novel, let's say, and he'd say, well, look, if you really want to
read a great murder scene, here, check this out, and he'd kind of read
the murder scene in "Crime and Punishment" to me. Or you know, he read
me the first chapter of "Lolita," which had a huge impact over me. I
mean for many reasons, but not just in that he turned me on to a lot of
great literature but I kind of saw the effect that literature had on him
and, you know, and kind of wanted some of that.

GROSS: And your mother was a librarian. Did she choose books for you?

Mr. CAVE: Well, not in the same way. But really, I’m - even though my
father was very much the flamboyant one and the one, you know, the
family would kind of crane towards when he would be talking at the
dinner table, I'm very much like my mother, actually. Most of my ideals
and stuff really come from my mother.

GROSS: Now, we talked a little earlier about growing up in Australia and
one of the things about Australia is that, you know, the white people
there basically came to start a penal colony and you wrote the
screenplay for the film "The Proposition," which relates to that.

Mr. CAVE: Yeah.

GROSS: And you wrote the score. You co-wrote the score for it too. So
we're going to hear the title clip, so to speak, the title scene in
which the police captain actually makes the proposition. But set the
scene for us. This is very early on in the film, just summarize for us,
which brought us to this point.

Mr. CAVE: Well, the – the film opens with the kind of obliteration of
the Burns gang by the police, you know, a horrible kind of gun fight.
And the two brothers, these three brothers, but two of them have been
captured. Mikey(ph), which is the little one and Charlie, which is the
main character of the film. And the police chief presents these two
brothers with a proposition in regard to Arthur Burns, a kind of
renegade brother who is departed from the gang sometime before and is
living up in the hills. And what you’ll hear now is “The Proposition.”

(Soundbite of movie, “The Proposition”)

Mr. RAY WINSTONE (Actor): (As Captain Stanley) I wish to present you a
proposition. And now would (unintelligible) in this God forsaken place.
The blacks won’t go there or the trackers. (Unintelligible) I suppose,
in time, the bounty hunters will get him. But I have other plans. I aim
to bring him down. I aim to show that he is a man like any other. I am
to hurt him.

Mr. ROBERT MORGAN (Actor): (As Sergeant Lawrence) When you’re ready,
sir.

Mr. WINSTONE: (As Captain Stanley): And what will most hurt him? Well, I
don’t know (unintelligible) about that. And I have realized, Mr. Burns,
that I must become a little more inventive in my methods. Don’t speak,
Mr. Burns, listen to me now. Don’t say a word. Suppose I told you there
was a way to save your little brother, Mikey, from the noose. Suppose I
gave you a horse and a gun. I suppose, Mr. Burns, I was to give both of
you and your young brother Mikey a pardon. Suppose I (unintelligible)
give you the chance to expunge the guilt beneath which is so clearly
labor. Suppose I gave you till Christmas, I suppose you’d tell me what
it is I want from you.

Mr. GUY PEARCE (Actor): (As Charlie Burns) You want me to kill my
brother.

Mr. WINSTONE: (As Captain Stanley) I want you to kill your brother.
Arthur Burns is a monster, an abomination. You were right to part
company with him.

GROSS: It’s Ray Winstone in a scene from “The Proposition,” which was
written by my guest Nick Cave who also co-wrote, “The Score.” That must
be pretty exciting to write the screenplay and the music for a movie.
It’s a very brutal film, and again relates to the origins of Australia
as if, you know, colony. Since you are interested in like murder ballads
and revenge and songs about those themes, are you particularly
interested in the penal colony origins of your country of origin.

Mr. CAVE: I mean, we all are. All Australians are to a degree. I mean,
for a long time we were, as a country, was considered to kind of
shameful aspect to our heritage. You know, the fact that we come from
colonial stock and we were prisoners initially and criminals. But I
think that that’s kind of largely changed and we’re more kind of
accepting of that these days. But I was actually approached by the
director to write this screenplay because he could manage to get - he
wanted to make an Australian western, just couldn’t manage to get a
script that he liked or that was Australian enough actually.

But I was just very interested in writing a script anyway just to see if
I could do that. And I was lucky enough to be presented with the idea by
John Hillcoat about something that I knew a little bit about.

GROSS: Thank you so much for talking with us. It’s really been great to
talk with you.

Mr. CAVE: Thanks very much.

DAVIES: Nick Cave speaking to Terry Gross last year. The
singer/songwriter second book, “The Death of Bunny Munro,” a novel has
just been published. Coming up film, critic David Edelstein on Michael
Moore’s new movie “Capitalism: A Love Story.” This is FRESH AIR.
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In The Center Ring: Michael Moore Vs. 'Capitalism'

DAVE DAVIES, host:

After box office hits with “Roger and Me” “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Sicko”
and an Oscar for “Bowling For Columbine,” Michael Moore returns with
“Capitalism: A Love Story,” a critical look at the business of America.
Business. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: Say what you will about Michael Moore. He’s a
successful left-wing carnival barker in a culture that mostly rewards
right-wing carnival barkers.

Yes, he has been caught fudging facts. But he doesn’t just spew partisan
talking points. He’s out there on the street, amassing evidence. His new
cinematic circus, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” is the film he’s been
building to for two decades. It’s sprawling, scattershot and sniggering.
It’s brazenly one-sided, yet it’s riveting. His other films focused on
symptoms. This one tackles what he sees as the disease.

Let’s start with his conclusion, quote, “Capitalism is an evil, and you
cannot regulate evil.” That’s enough to give anyone pause, especially in
light of the sorry history of other political and economic systems. He
has a less controversial case when he attacks those who portray the
connection between capitalism and democracy as sibling-close, united
under the umbrella of the Constitution.

One of Moore’s stunts is a trip to the Capitol Rotunda to examine the
document. After a Wall Street Journal editor tells Moore that capitalism
is more important than democracy, the filmmaker quotes the Founding
Fathers on the dangers to democracy of an unregulated market. He also
has Jesus on the record denouncing material wealth. As usual, Moore
scores most points with satire. He re-dubs an old Bible movie so that
Jesus refuses to heal a cripple because of a quote, “pre-existing
condition.”

I wouldn’t use the term documentary to describe this film. It’s a barbed
comic monologue with big jolts of pathos. Moore uses a daddy-knows-best
tone borrowed from ‘50s documentaries. This, kiddies, is how our society
really works. Some people hate that condescending tone, but I like it. I
think it’s apt. Moore is a kind of Mr. Rogers with 200-extra pounds and
a Che Guevara T-shirt instead of a cardigan.

As for content, Moore ranges far and wide although rarely very deep. He
begins with foreclosures on poor people and gives a quick sketch of
predatory lending. He draws comparisons between the fall of the Roman
Empire and our American century. He makes the case that Ronald Reagan
and his corporate allies began dismantling regulations in a way that
amounted to a coup d’etat.

(Soundbite of the movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story”)

Mr. MICHAEL MOORE (Actor): (As Himself) See that guy standing next to
the president? You know, the one that looks like a butler. His name was
Don Regan, the chairman of Merrill Lynch, the richest and biggest retail
brokerage firm in the world. He took the key position of Treasury
secretary so he can enact the tax cuts that the rich wanted. Regan then
became White House Chief of Staff as the president started to fade(ph).

President RONALD REAGAN: The nation gives the president what 43
governors have a line item veto.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. MOORE: (As Himself) Who tells the president to speed it up, the band
for Merrill Lynch (unintelligible). Things in America would never be the
same again. The country would now be run by the corporation.

President RONALD REAGAN: We’re going to turn the bull lose.

(Soundbite of applause)

EDELSTEIN: It got worse, says Moore, under George W. Bush, who took a
chainsaw to Wall Street regulations. That’s not my metaphor - or
Moore’s. Bush officials and lobbyists posed with a chainsaw for a
magazine cover, setting the stage for what Moore calls the greatest wave
of white-collar crime in American history.

He doesn’t exempt Democrats, either. Bill Clinton also unleashes the
Wall Street bull. But while Moore rejoices at the triumph of democracy,
he says was Obama’s election, he doesn’t note that the bailout goes on
unabated. Among Moore’s more appalling segments is one in which he
recounts instances in which for-profit businessmen assumed roles
traditionally played by government, like the privately Wilkes-Barre,
Pennsylvania Juvenile Correction Facility that allegedly paid millions
in kickbacks to judges who’d put away teens for minor infractions.

Moore makes one detour that’s exploitive. After a segment on blue-chip
companies that earn millions secretly taking out life insurance policies
on employees, he introduces a family in which the mother — a Wal-Mart
worker — died of an asthma attack and the company collected $80,000. The
children read we-miss-you letters to their dead mom and weep. But what’s
the context? She wasn’t failed by the health care system. He moves in on
the crying kids like a ghoul.

In the final sequence, Moore pretends to try to make citizen’s arrests
on Wall Street, and puts crime scene tape around the Stock Exchange. On
one level, groan. On another, no one else seems about to make arrests.
Maybe the image of Michael Moore as sheriff would scare Wall Street
straight.

DAVIES: David Edelstein is film critic for New York magazine. You can
download podcasts of our show at freshair.npr.org.
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Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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