Hub of the Cosmos

Photo Credit: Boston Public Library, Print Department

I saw Nick Cave the other night at the Wang Theatre. He asked the audience if Boston was a worthwhile place to live. He said his son wanted to know, so he’d promised to inquire. He then handily narrowed the crowd’s responses from “best place in the world” to a considerably less inaccurate “best place in New England.”


About a quarter-century ago I saw Morrissey down the road from the Wang at the Orpheum. There are two things I remember vividly.

First was – and you must please remember, this was before it was standard for him to perform Smiths songs – the opening chords to “Paint a Vulgar Picture.” I clapped so hard the clasp to my watch came undone.

Second, in between songs, he was pacing the stage and stopped. “Is it nice to live in Boston?” he asked. The crowd responded variously. He continued pacing. Then, in full arch Morrissey mode, he stopped again. “Is it very nice?”


In his set Nick covered “Cosmic Dancer.” What is it with that song? It does it for me neither musically nor lyrically (What’s it like to be a loon / I liken it to a balloon is straight-up David St. Hubbins). But Morrissey covered it back in the day, too. Maybe they both had formative experiences watching The Pop-Rock Combo Programme or something.

Here’s Morrissey and David Bowie duetting on the d–n thing.