cover image The Sick Bag Song

The Sick Bag Song

Nick Cave. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $21 (128p) ISBN 978-0-544-81465-3

This short tour diary puts the reader into musician Cave’s frame of mind during his 2014 North American tour. Cave occasionally veers into verse and spontaneous compositions scattered within his diary. He muses about different events in his life that pop into his head while on the road. A bridge near Edmonton, Alberta, reminds him of when his “father and mother told [him] about the boy who had died jumping off the railway bridge.” Cave writes about books he reads and records he revisits, including John Berryman’s Dream Songs and Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate. He also shares anecdotes about other musicians, such as Bryan Ferry of the influential glam rock band Roxy Music. The book includes drafts of songs inspired by life on the road, such as “The Beekeeper’s Wife,” which, Cave writes, “hints at growing anxiety about my wife not answering the phone.” The book’s title comes from a song inspired by the refrain on the back of a Delta Air Lines air sickness bag: “Call the stewardess for bag disposal.” Cave’s stream-of-consciousness writing definitely makes this an engrossing read, enmeshing the reader fully in the musician’s perspective. (Nov.)