Can play the game
Odds are we’ll carry on
A new John Cale song is always a fine and dandy thing, and “Night Crawling,” his sultry ode to nightlife in the early 1970s, is a gem. Cale’s versatility as a musician is showcased here, having played most of the instruments, with additional drums by Deantoni Parks (KUDU, The Mars Volta) and backing vocals from Dustin Boyer.
The new single serves as a love letter to his younger self, trawling the late-night streets of the East Village with his friend and fellow flâneur David Bowie, encountering all sorts of grifters and shady characters under notable landmarks. It’s a glimpse at a past long gone, replaced these days with fratty Wall Street types and twenty-dollar salad joints, but Cale’s unmistakeable, honey voice croons us right into a time machine to a seedier time.
Cale reflected upon the back story of the song:
“There was this period around mid-late ’70s when David and I would run into each other in NY. There was plenty of talk about getting some work done but of course we’d end up running the streets, sometimes until we couldn’t keep a thought in our heads, let alone actually get a song together! One night we managed to meet up for a benefit concert where I taught him a viola part so we could perform together. When I wrote “Night Crawling,” it was a reflective moment of particular times. That kind of NYC that held art in its grip, strong enough to keep it safe and dangerous enough to keep it interesting. I always figured we’d have another go at the two of us recording together, this time without the interference of being perpetually off our heads! The thing about creating music is the ability to divine a thought or feeling even when reality says it’s a logical impossibility.”
The accompanying video, an animation by Mickey Miles, evokes the classic early 70s Hanna-Barbera essence of Scooby-Doo’s endless guest celebrities, as well as the opening of Grease, memorably animated by British artist John D. Wilson. The caricatures of Cale and Bowie have a slightly psychedelic flair, but their encounters in the night are even more flamboyant. It’s a beautiful vision: in true Cale style, in this song he pauses for a moment for a brief indulgence in nostalgia, yet moves ever forward.
Watch the video for “Night Crawling” below:
Night Crawling is out now through Domino Records.
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John Cale UK Tour 2022
- Sun October 23rd – The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
- Mon October 24th – Barbican, York
- Fri Oct 28th – Llais Festival, Cardiff *
- Mon October 31st – Playhouse Whitley Bay, Whitley Bay
- Thu November 3rd – Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham
- Mon November 7th – De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea
- Wed November 9th – The London Palladium, London
- Thun November 10th – Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge
- Fri November 11th – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool