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The Flaming Lips Meet Nick Cave Via A 13-Year-Old

The Flaming Lips Meet Nick Cave
Nell Smith and Wayne Coyne: The Flaming Lips meet Nick Cave

The Flaming Lips are all about multicolor balloons launched over a rainbow of confetti. They are the Wizards of Oz with guitars, dancing in the middle of glitter-covered furry animals. Their shows are super happy cartoons coming alive inside giant plastic bubbles.

Meanwhile, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds could just be the opposite. Their shows are dark tempests of intense emotions while the last albums, ‘Push the Sky Away,’ ‘Ghosteen,’ ‘Carnage,’ and especially ‘Skeleton Tree,’ exude some heartbreaking darkness and sadness. Can you imagine two artistic worlds more different?

I didn’t really expect to see their names connected in a project, although, if you pass the confetti and balloons, there is more in common than you would previously think: Their shows carry the same intensity, while Wayne Coyne and Nick Cave manage to build this same strong connection with their respective audiences, despite their very different vocal prowess.

The following story is very cute. Nell Smith, a 13-year-old from Fernie, British Columbia, has been a fan of the Flaming Lips since she saw them live when she was just 10. She truly connected with the band and was a regular at their shows, singing front row, wearing a colorful parrot suit. Nell and her dad became friends with Wayne Coyne and the Lips invited the Smith family to Oklahoma to record with them. Because of the pandemic, it didn’t happen and Nell emailed some cover tunes to Oklahoma to be backed up by the band. Wayne Coyne suggested she should cover Nick Cave. ‘Ì actually did not know who Nick Cave was before he suggested it,’ says Nell to CBCNews. ‘Ì thought it was a really interesting choice.’

Coyne had excellent reasons to suggest Cave: he knew Nell would not be familiar with his repertoire and that she wouldn’t have preconceived notions. She covered ‘Girl in Amber’ and the band was so impressed that they recorded an entire album of Nick Cave covers! Nell worked on 9 songs during spring 2020, in a spare bedroom at her home, working with borrowed equipment: she recorded the vocals, while the Flaming Lips (Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, and Michael) worked on the production and played most of the instruments on most of the songs. The album of ‘the Flaming Lips meet Nick Cave’ was finished about a year ago, was mastered by Dave Fridmann, and will be released on October 25.

So far, only ‘Girl in Amber’ has surfaced with a video… and it’s an impressive, very emotional rendition with beautiful imagery and haunting vocals by Nell who was only 12 at the time. I bet Nick Cave would appreciate it.

The tracklist is the album is:

  1. Girl in Amber
  2. Weeping Song
  3. Into my Arms
  4. O Children
  5. No More Shall We Part
  6. The Kindness of Strangers
  7. Red Right Hand
  8. The Ship Song
  9. We no Who UR

And I have also read that the Flaming Lips’ bassist/keyboardist Michael Ivins has some vocal parts on ‘Red Right Hand’


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