Palaces of Montezuma

Album: Grinderman 2 (2010)

Songfacts®:

  • This is a track from Grinderman 2, the second studio album by Grinderman, a side project of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

    Cave answered a fan's question about the origins of this song in The Red Hand Files #93. He said that, as with all his songs, he wasn't sure exactly where it came from.

    "It's not the sort of question I feel I have the authority to answer," Cave said. "These songs, you know, just present themselves."

    He went on to say that after listening to the song again he felt it was somehow tied to a "loony" Lou Reed song titled "Andy's Chest." He couldn't be sure, but he suspected that may have had something to do with the initial inspiration.
  • Scottish musician Frankie Duffy claimed in an interview with the newspaper The Courier dated October 1, 2010, that this song is actually "Grey Man," a tune he wrote for his former band Rising Signs in the mid 2000s. He said: "I couldn't believe it when I heard that track. It stood out a mile, it's exactly the same chords and the same hook as the intro to 'Grey Man.' I was never really a Nick Cave fan, but I really like Grinderman, that's a different kettle of fish. But when you hear that track you can totally spot the similarities.

    I sat down with my guitar and played along with it and it's exactly the same A, E and B chords, which to be fair anybody could use to write a song at any time. But it's the chord progression and when the vocal hook comes in with some ooohs, it's exactly the same, you can just hear it's the same thing."

    Regarding how Cave came to hear and allegedly steal the song, Duffy presumed: "It's been up on our MySpace even after Rising Signs split, and I don't know, I can't help thinking that Nick Cave was sitting in his house one night and decided to surf some unsigned bands and saw our site, saw we were split up and thought, 'I'll have that track, nobody will ever know.'

    Or it could be a really huge, amazing coincidence, but it's really obvious they sound the same and on the Grinderman album you can hear the band talking and you can hear the words 'grey man' being said, so maybe it's not as much of a coincidence after all."
  • By the evening of October 1, Cave had got wind of accusations that he pilfered this song. On stage at the Hammersmith Apollo, he introduced "Palaces Of Montezuma" by saying: "You may have read that some 17-year-old kid in Dundee is trying to sue me and is claiming to have written this song. That's funny, because I wrote it for my wife."
  • In issue 94 of The Red Hand Files, Cave contacted Bad Seed Warren Ellis and asked about the supposed theft from Rising Signs. Ellis, Cave says, is the one who wrote the chords and backing vocals.

    Ellis replied, "F--k, no! I stole it from The Laughing Clowns." Specifically, he's referring to The Laughing Clowns song "Theme From Mad Flies, Mad Flies." 

    The Laughing Clowns are a post-punk band formed in 1979. "Theme From Mad Flies, Mad Flies" was on their 1982 album Mr Uddich-Schmuddich Goes To Town.

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