I had already owned Nick Cave’s "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" CD for about a week when suddenly I noticed a verse in the song "More News from Nowhere" that had never stood out much before. I’d probably listened to it 10 or so times.
But for you fellow literature geeks out there, does this sound familiar to you?
I turn another corner
I go down a corridor
And I see this guy
He must be about one hundred foot tall
And he only has one eye
He asks me for my autograph
I write nobody and then
I wrap myself up in my woolly coat
And I blind him with my pen…
That’s right. The song is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.
In this passage, Odysseus meets the cyclops, who asks his name. Odysseus replies "Nobody" and disguises himself as a sheep in order to escape, and blindes the cyclops’s one good eye.
And there’s more. The song is an incredibly rich text.
‘Cause someone must have stuck something in my drink
Everything’s getting strange lookin’
Half the people have turned into squealing pigs
The other half are cooking
Well let me out of here I cried
And I went pushing past
And I saw Miss Polly singing with some girls
I cried struck me to the mast
Odysseus’s men were turned into pigs by Circe, and at one point, Odysseus tied himself to the mast to avoid being captured by the Sirens’ singing.
But! That song isn’t the only one on the album that’s about the Odyssey.
Or perhaps you’d prefer Cave’s version of the Orpheus myth on "The Lyre of Orpheus"?