Nell & The Flaming Lips continue to celebrate the release of their album Where The Viaduct Looms (Nov 2021) with a new video for “The Weeping Song,” which premiered on Rolling Stone. The track is taken from Where the Viaduct Looms, an album comprised of nine Nick Cave cover versions with vocals and instrumentation by 14-year-old Nell Smith and instrumentation and production by The Flaming Lips.
“The Weeping Song” video is a breath-taking cut, shot in the stunning snow-capped mountains of Nell Smith’s home town, Fernie, BC. Nell’s effortless vocals glide atop acoustic guitar contributed by Nev Cottee and is a brilliant rendition of the Nick Cave original.
Says Nell, about the video:“The video for his song needed to show some people going through some stuff, and my part is a girl on a journey kind of observing. It’s maybe a broken family with the dad and son struggling. The mountain top scenes were accessed via snowmobile, deep into avalanche territory. We had to get kitted out with safety gear. It was an adventure!”
This inspiring and heartwarming story began when Nell Smith, originally from Leeds (UK), moved to Canada and first met Wayne Coyne at the age of 12 at The Flaming Lips’ headline show at the Sled Island Festival in Calgary with her family. Nell had already attended several Lips shows and was a regular at the front of the stage, dressed in a parrot costume and screaming out the band’s songs. Coyne soon began to notice the kid in the parrot suit and sang a David Bowie cover directly to her at the show in Calgary, with Nell singing every word back. A musical bond formed as Coyne stayed in contact with Nell and her father, Jude. Nell started to learn guitar and as their creative relationship began to flourish, Nell began to write her own songs. When a planned trip to record with the band in Oklahoma had to be cancelled due to Covid, Coyne suggested Nell record some Nick Cave songs and email them to Oklahoma to be backed by the band. Coyne chose Nick Cave because Nell didn’t know him and wouldn’t have preconceived notions as to how to sing the songs.
In a pleasing addition to the tale, the great man himself has given his seal of approval to the collaboration. Alerted to the cover by a fan, Nick Cave took to his website The Red Hand Files to write: “This version of ‘Girl in Amber’ is just lovely, I was going to say Nell Smith inhabits the song, but that’s wrong, rather she vacates the song, in a way that I could never do,” said Cave. “I always found it difficult to step away from this particular song and sing it with its necessary remove, just got so twisted up in the words, I guess. Nell shows a remarkable understanding of the song, a sense of dispassion that is both beautiful and chilling. I just love it. I’m a fan.”
Speaking about the collaboration, Coyne comments:“It’s always great to meet excited, young creative people. With Nell we could see she is on a journey and thought it would be fun to join her for a while and see if we could get things going. It was a great way to connect with her and help harness her cool attitude to making music.”
When asked about the experience, Nell comments:“I still can’t really believe it. It was a really steep learning curve but Wayne was so encouraging when I was struggling with a few of the songs that I kept going. I hadn’t heard of Nick Cave but Wayne suggested that we should start with an album of his cover versions, and then look at recording some of my own songs later. It was cool to listen and learn about Nick Cave and pick the songs we wanted to record.”