Kylie and Nick Cave: ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’

Kylie and Nick Cave: ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’
Mushroom Pictures
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Kylie and Nick Cave look back on their 1995 duet ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ from Cave’s 1996 album Murder Ballads.

This excerpt from the documentary Great Australian Albums: Murder Ballads – The Story Behind the Album (Larry Meltzer, Australia, 2008) begins with a scene-setting clip from Britain’s Top of the Pops in 1995.

Kylie looks like a light, elfin figure, surrounded by the darkly-suited Nick Cave and his band the Bad Seeds. Whereas Kylie looks very much at home on the Top 40 television show, Nick and The Bad Seeds shift around awkwardly and look out of place.

This clip demonstrates how incongruous it seemed at the time for the two to be working together.

Interviews with Nick Cave, Kylie and Bad Seed Martyn Casey are skilfully edited together to paint a vivid behind-the-scenes picture of that night on Top of the Pops.

Nick pays tribute to Kylie’s professionalism during the music video shoot, which required her to be immersed in water for a day. Footage of the video directed by Rocky Schenck, showing a snake winding its way between Kylie’s legs, underlines her dedication to her art.

The visual influence of John Everett Millais’ painting Ophelia (1851–2) on the production design of the video is obvious even from the short clip.

While Nick’s unnamed character in the song overpowers and murders Elisa Day (Kylie), Kylie herself comes across as very much in control of her ever-changing image.

As the highest selling Australian-born artist of all time, it is only fitting that Nick Cave refers to Kylie here as a national treasure.

‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ was the lead single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ninth studio album, Murder Ballads (1996). The song was written by Nick Cave and produced by Tony Cohen and Victor Van Vugt.

It reached number 3 in Norway, top five in Australia and made the top 20 in the UK, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand. In 2014 NME placed it at number 378 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

This song is one of several successful duets that Kylie has performed throughout her career. Each has had a different feel depending on who she is working with.

Past duet partners include Robbie Williams, Jimmy Little, The Wiggles, Ben Lee and Jason Donovan.

Notes by Beth Taylor