Anita Lane, the brilliant artist known for her work in The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, has left this mortal coil. Lane was a pioneer in the exploration of aggressive female sexuality through music; her forthright songwriting paving the way for women in the 90s to follow suit. A ‘limitless creative spirit’ often overshadowed by her collaborators (and place in time), Lane proved to be a formidable creative catalyst for brilliance.
Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1959, Lane began singing and writing songs at the tender age of 16. She was a classmate of Rowland S. Howard at the Prahran College of Advanced Education; their association eventually lead her into the Melbourne post-punk scene in the early 80s, where she would morph into a creative juggernaut and key figure. The group relocated to West Berlin in August 1982.
Lane co-wrote “A Dead Song,” “Dead Joe“ and “Kiss Me Black” with her then-partner Nick Cave. When The Birthday Party called it quits in the early 1980s, she continued their collaboration, co-writing Bad Seeds songs “From Her To Eternity” and “Stranger Than Kindness.”
Lane’s career was distinguished and long, collaborating with Einstürzende Neubaten, Kid Congo Powers, and Gudrun Gut. A steadfast presence among the Mute/Some Bizarre artists circle, you can hear her wry contribution to Soft Cell’s “L’Esqualita”: “we could go out for dinner but we’re always on drugs.”
Anita “Dirty” Lane also had a “sporadic solo career,” releasing a debut solo EP, Dirty Sings, through Mute in 1988. Lane’s explosive songwriting focused on the spirituality of romantic relationships, finding the truest self through karmic ties. She unapologetically explored the fragility and strength of the feminine human experience to its fullest potential – in a time when women were expected to downplay their sexuality, or deny it outright. This candor caused immense artistic struggle for Lane throughout her career. On the recording of Dirty Sings, she spoke candidly about these trials:
“I did tell someone once about why I made that record, but they were shocked and didn’t print it. It was to do with being really desperately unhappy and wanting to die. I knew I had something. I told Daniel Miller, I’ve got this life and I don’t know what to do with it, I almost don’t even want it, but I’m really talented, so use me. I didn’t want to be on a pedestal on the record. I wanted to talk to other girls. I kind of wanted to glorify insecurity rather than being confident and successful. I wanted some kind of equality between the emotions that are raised up for people to look at, to show other emotions that are equally as valid as confidence and control. I felt that I was going to die and I wanted to leave something behind, as a suicide note I guess.”
She would cover Sister Sledge’s “Lost in Music” (featuring Cave on piano), “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye, and Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.” She went on to release Dirty Pearl in 1993. One of the B-sides from the The World’s a Girl single was a cover of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s sexy duet, “Je T’aime … Moi Non Plus,” with Nick Cave. Her second solo album, Sex O’Clock, followed in 2001.
Lane also collaborated with members of the Bad Seeds on their side projects. She collaborated with Barry Adamson on 1989’s Moss Side Story and his soundtrack for the 1991 film Delusion. She also sang on Mick Harvey’s tribute albums to Serge Gainsbourg: Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants, and contributed to Einstürzende Neubaten’s 1993 album Tabula Rasa, a 1993 album fronted by fellow Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld.
After Sex O’Clock, Lane moved to Byron Bay, Australia, where she devoted her time to raising a family.
Mute plans reissues of Anita Lane’s solo albums later this year.
Tributes flooded in early in the morning from all over the world. Producer Mark Reeder shared some memories of his longtime friendship with Lane on Facebook this morning.
Reeder spoke about Lane in a recent Post-Punk Podcast episode, which can be heard here:
Rest in peace.