Can't remember anything at all
Flame trees line the streets
Can't remember anything at all
But I'm driving my car down to Geneva
I been sitting in my basement patio
Aye it was hot up above
Girls walk past, the roses all in bloom
Have you ever heard about the Higgs Boson Blues?
I'm going down to Geneva, baby
Gonna teach it to you
Who cares? Who cares what the future brings?

Black road long and I drove and drove
And came upon a crossroad
The night was hot and black
I see Robert Johnson with a 10-dollar guitar
Strapped to his back looking for a tomb
Well here comes Lucifer with his canon law
And a hundred black babies running from his genocidal jaw
He got the real killer groove
Robert Johnson and the devil, man
Don't know who is gonna rip off who
Driving my car, flame trees on fire
Sitting and singing the Higgs Boson Blues

I'm tired, I'm looking for a spot to drop
All the clocks have stopped
In Memphis now in the Lorraine Motel
It's hot, it's hot - that's why they call it the Hot Spot
I'll take a room with a view
Hear a man preaching in a language that's completely new
Making the hot cocks in the flophouse bleed
While the cleaning ladies sob into their mops
And a bellhop hops and bops
A shot rings out to a spiritual groove
Everybody bleeding to that Higgs Boson Blues

If I die tonight, bury me
In my favorite yellow patent leather shoes
With a mummified cat and a cone-like hat
That the caliphate forced on the Jews
Can you feel my heartbeat?
Can you feel my heartbeat?

Hannah Montana does the African Savannah
As the simulated rainy season begins
She curses the queue at the Zulus
And moves on to Amazonia
And cries with the dolphins
Mau Mau ate the pygmy
The pygmy ate the monkey
The monkey has a gift that he is sending back to you
Look here comes the missionary
With his smallpox and flu
He's saving them, the savages
With the Higgs Boson Blues
I'm driving my car down to Geneva
I'm driving my car down to Geneva

Oh let the damn day break
The rainy days always make me sad
Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake
And you're the best girl I've ever had
Can't remember anything at all


Lyrics submitted by smallwonderrobot, edited by DrunkFly, dickymoore

Higgs Boson Blues song meanings
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19 Comments

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  • +9
    My InterpretationI think it's not about the religion or the decay of our "godless" civilization. I think it's about searching for knowledge in different places at different times. It's also about media & popular culture.
    While there was time when people went to Memphis to aquire some experience (a place where blues musicians made music so great that it seemed they were selling their souls to the devil), but the protaginist chooses Geneva to be the place he can learn something important.
    The protagonist is the present-day missionnaire / a present-day blues musician (in my opinion, 'blues' is here synonymous to 'knowledge'): he will preach & "teach it to you". There is always a cost of any knowledge: either it is small pox & flu, or a bullet in Lorraine motel, or death under unknown circumstances.
    There is also kind of knowledge, which is useless and does no harm (a teenage icon Miley Cirus aka Hannah Montana swimming in her pool). The connection between all these pieces is that all of them represent the culture in a certain period of time and people's obsession by it (by accepting it, learning it, teaching it, etc.). Still, it's quite unstable: "I can't remember anything at all". Might be, there is just one thing that really matters and stays: the protagonist's realtionship with another human being ("you are the best girl I've ever had").

    On the second thought, these checkpoints on the protagonist's memory lane might be just alternative Universes (whose existence might be proven in Geneva some day) :)
    Ajnochkaon March 13, 2013   Link
  • +8
    General CommentThe reference to Robert Johnson is much deeper. The legend is that he sold his soul to the devil and got guitar skills for it instead. However:
    'He got the real killer groove
    Robert Johnson and the devil, man
    Don't know who is gonna rip off who'
    Johnson is so skilled that he can beat the devil. Like people that found the god particle and could (once) surpass god.
    UUTRon March 12, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationIt seems he's making a parallel between the story of Robert Johnson (blues musician who purportedly "sold his soul to the devil" in exchange for guitar skills) and our discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. This "don't know who is gonna rip off who" part is the real issue -- did we compromise anything in order to make this discovery, and what impact will it have on our world? Will it help us as a society or will it lead us down a path of further environmental destruction?

    The "Higgs Boson Blues" seems to suggest that the future holds little direction or meaning. The discovery of the Higgs Boson completed the Standard Model of particle physics, so where do we go from here?

    The only thing we can be certain of is our impending mortality, and it can come with little warning to anyone, no matter their moral standing. He paints a picture of the assassination of Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis as a jarring example of this.

    In the great uncertainty that follows death, material requests like "bury me in my favorite yellow patent leather shoes" seem trivial. Our society's superficial fixation on celebrities like Miley Cyrus seem especially banal in the wake of this.

    The line "look here comes the missionary with his smallpox and flu" describes a double edged sword. We are always searching for ways to better our society, but it comes at a cost.
    aubergineon October 04, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm pretty sure all of that business about the Lorraine Motel is regarding the assassination of MLK. He was shot as he was standing on the balcony off room 306. The motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum. The man preaching in a language that's completely new is MLK.

    I get a strong sense of existential dread from this song. The whole idea of sitting in a "basement patio" (What is that, exactly? Probably just a dark, sad basement.) while girls walk by outside with roses in bloom. It implies to me that all of these things: the Higgs Boson, Miley Cyrus and celebrity culture, the deaths of our revolutionaries, the legends that we surround ourselves with, are weighing him down.

    I think this is one of the "biggest" songs Nick has ever written. It's arguably the best song of 2013.
    jimahon December 10, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis is what a "blues" should sound nowadays. Nick has talked about this one as the depiction of the general decay and confusion ruling our reality nowadays (referring also to Hannah Montana, which is the only discording note, she's there to contrast with naivety and unaware calm all the chaos around). Of course the decay is especially spiritual; I believe that the Higgs Boson fits because its revelation in a way (in a very collateral, poetic way) denies the existence of a God. A world in which God is denied, all kind of stuff happen, some other stuff are justified by it (black babies dying, Marthin Luther shot dead, Robert Johnson dead with any given credit -- basically there's just Lucipher hanging around like it's nothing). There's also a sarcastic look at science, on the other side, when he goes like: "here comes the missionary" -- maybe a doctor without borders carrying vaccines and knownledge like everything is under control, and everything can be explained. But in a messed up world without any God, nothing can ever make sense and 2+2 always make a 5. So in the end, Cave suggests he's just accepting the way things roll and flow; we're in a mess, no matter what they discover in Geneva. He does this long journey thro the whole human chaos but ends up defied in his basement patio, just like Miley Cirus in a way. But at the end of the day who cares? Who cares what the future brings?
    sashikion March 09, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYou need to know a little about the Higgs Boson, and a little about Nick Cave to get this song. Nick is not a typical Christian, but he is a Christian, so the spiritual decay he sees is not some request to put prayer in schools, or for people to follow his religion or something, it is a deeper, existential crisis in modern society. The Higgs Boson is called the "God particle" because it is an attempt by physics to find the most elementary particle, the particle that is essentially at the bottom of everything. Now that they've found it, there is no fulfillment, nothing is better, and the spiritual crises is still there, God particle or no. It's an existential emptiness type thing. Lines like "saving the savages with the Higgs Boson blues" are easily explained by reading people like Christopher Hitchens writing about howt he Iraq war was a good idea to civilize people, and bring them our wonderful, perfect modern ways of life and views. The references to MIley Cyrus are obvious, she is a great poster child of our empty, fame-groping, celebrity obsessed pop culture.
    ZachZinnon December 17, 2013   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning"Higgs Boson Blues"
    -----
    Higgs Boson particle (aka God particle) is the very fundamental particle that explain many things. It has been discovered in CERN lab in Geneva. In these lyrics we can see it as a metaphor of the God. Blues is referring to the Blues music and at the same time to sadness. So I interpret the title as : The sad God.
    Why he is sad? We'll see in the rest of the lyrics
    ----


    Can't remember anything at all
    Flame trees line the streets
    Can't remember anything at all
    But I'm driving my car down to Geneva
    -----
    Driving car to Geneva, where the God (Boson Particle) has been discovered.
    In other words, he is searching for the God. I like to see god as being that has the answer to everything. Answer to all our needs and our question. An escape from the darkness. And he wants to find that God.
    -----

    I've been sitting in my basement patio
    Aye, it was hot
    Up above, girls walk past, the roses all in bloom
    Have you ever heard about the Higgs Boson blues
    I'm goin' down to Geneva baby, gonna teach it to you
    ------
    We can see two side in this world. One is sad and dark one because you can see the beyond of the meaningless circle of life. And the other one is bright, and blooming. Belongs to the people in modern world who are enjoying their superficial life.
    Then he mentions the sad God. And he wants to teach it to the people that, meaninglessly, are living up above. We'll see his teaching in the reminder of the lyrics.
    ---------


    Who cares, who cares what the future brings?
    Black road long and I drove and drove
    I came upon a crossroad
    The night was hot and black
    I see Robert Johnson,
    With a ten dollar guitar strapped to his back,
    Lookin' for a tune
    ------
    He, again, mentions that the world is dark and he is seeking a meaning, a real light in this darkness by driving to Geneva (God's place).
    On his way he sees Rober Johnson, which according to Eric Clapton was the most influential Blues guitarist. There's myth about Johnson says he sold his soul to the Lucifer in order to become a great blues musician. So here R. Johnson is going to meet Lucifer in order to make a deal with him.
    ------

    Well here comes Lucifer,
    With his canon law,
    And a hundred black babies runnin' from his genocidal jaw
    He got the real killer groove
    Robert Johnson and the devil man
    Don't know who's gonna rip off who
    -------
    So here's the confrontation of the Lucifer and Johnson. But in the Cave's version seems he is not going to sell his soul to the devil. And there's a fight between them. His miraculous music, for sure, is from something divine, from heaven. How it is possible to acquire this divine music from Lucifer?

    It's noteworthy that Johnson died because he drunk a poisonous wine. Who poisoned the wine? A jealous husband whom Johnson flirted with his wife. We can see this matter also as a fight between him and Lucifer. Lucifer finally killed him with the help of a temptation and a jealous husband.
    –-----

    Driving my car, flame trees on fire
    Sitting and singin' the Higgs Boson blues,
    I'm tired, I'm lookin' for a spot to drop
    All the clocks have stopped in Memphis now
    In the Lorraine Motel, it's hot, it's hot
    That's why they call it the Hot Spot
    I take a room with a view
    -------
    Again, he sees the world as a dark hell. In many Biblical notes hell described as a lake of dark fire.
    And he is driving, driving toward the place where they discovered the God.
    Why the earth we live in is like a dark hell? Here he mentions one reason:
    It was on this earth, in Lorraine Motel at Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. An innocent individual, warrior of the lightness, who was looking for freedom and equality bled to the death there.
    ------


    Hannah Montana does the African Savannah
    As the simulated rainy season begins
    She curses the queue at the Zulus
    And moves on to Amazonia
    And cries with the dolphins
    Mama ate the pygmy
    The pygmy ate the monkey
    The monkey has a gift that he is sending back to you
    Look here comes the missionary
    With his smallpox and flu
    He's saving them savages
    With his Higgs Boson Blues
    I'm driving my car down to Geneva
    I'm driving my car down to Geneva
    ------
    Here we can see a comparison of that superficial meaningless modern world and the sad reality on other side of this planet. Hannah Montana might be the best symbol of the corporate-created superficial celebrity. She does African rain dance and the result a meaningless simulated rain. She cries for the dolphins. But they are fake as crocodile tears. This modern life, which she is a very symbol of, is the main reason of dolphins' death.

    Here, he focuses on how AIDS firstly created because of poverty of the poor people of the Africa. I think he regards himself as the missionary. A messionary that makes you sick. He opens you eyes to the dark sad truth. With his Higgs Boson Blues. With the sad reality he carries with himself. (Remember, I said God is the being that has the answers, that has the reality).

    So we search for the God. Maybe he can save us from this dark hell of a world. But the reality is "God Blues" himself. He wasn't sad if he could offer a solution.
    -----

    Oh let the damn day break
    The rainy days always make me sad
    Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake
    And you're the best girl I've ever had
    Can't remember anything at all
    -------
    And again happy people up above are swimming in their pool. And they don't care about the sad part of the world. But who he sees the darkness, crimes, and inhumanity. And cares, belongs to the dark basement, Down here.
    Let's drive to Geneva. Who knows maybe we can find something maybe we can change something....
    amin77on September 17, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentD'you know what, I haven't a clue.
    Glad to say that the Bad Seeds have yet to release a bad album, though.
    IncreasingMeteorniumon February 17, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are a lot of references to the 'God particle' (Higgs Boson) and death. Reminds me in some way to The Discovery Of Heaven, by the Dutch author Harry Mulisch. When one of the main characters discovers heaven, an angel sends a meteoroid to kill him.
    UUTRon February 17, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationfor me its either about an experience of drug withdrawal or drug usage.

    Gonna teach it to you --> withdrawal

    Who cares? Who cares what the future brings? --> usage

    in my opinion it's about someone who checks into a motel who writes down everything he is experiencing on his trip and stay there. i'm pretty sure it's drug related.
    floshontayon February 20, 2013   Link

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