Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Album: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008)
Charted: 66

Songfacts®:

  • Nick Cave explained in a MySpace blog (remember those) about the inspiration for this song and how he's updated the biblical story of Lazarus: "Ever since I can remember hearing the Lazarus story, when I was a kid, you know, back in church, I was disturbed and worried by it. Traumatized, actually. We are all, of course, in awe of the greatest of Christ's miracles - raising a man from the dead - but I couldn't help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it. As a child it gave me the creeps, to be honest. I've taken Lazarus and stuck him in New York City, in order to give the song, a hip, contemporary feel. I was also thinking about Harry Houdini, who spent a lot of his life trying to debunk the spiritualists who were cashing in on the bereaved. He believed there was nothing going on beyond the grave. He was the second greatest escapologist, Harry was, Lazarus, of course, being the greatest. I wanted to create a kind of vehicle, a medium, for Houdini to speak to us if he so desires, you know, from beyond the grave." He added: "It is, most of all, an elegy to the New York City of the '70s."
  • The Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! album cover featured an 8-foot, 775-bulb sculpture created by British artists Sue Webster and Tim Noble.
  • Several months after the release of the Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! album, a book was published telling the story of the creation of the sleeve image and celebrating the album's title track. Cave said of the book: "It's a curiosity that deals with a project that began on the back of an envelope and ended up as genuine cultural icon and classic rock 'n' roll song."
  • Here's the background to Houdini's debunking of fake spiritualists, which inspired this song. Following the death of his beloved Hungarian mother, Harry Houdini agreed to pay some "mediums" large sums of money to bring her from the "other side" to speak to him in séances. The messages were all similar and in English. However, Houdini's mother spoke little English. Enraged at the exploitation of his grief, he mounted a public crusade against fake mindreaders and spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he fought to expose those fraudulent practitioners, who gave his profession a bad name.

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