"All beauty must die". From an insecure man in Wild World, our current wildness thread takes a dark and twisted direction with this unusual collaboration between the chief Bad Seed and the princess of pop. Now they are firm friends (see the documentary 20,000 Days On Earth), but at the time it’s hard to overestimate how odd this pairing seemed, with only their country of birth, Australia, as the obvious connection. One was the revered writer of uncompromisingly hard-hitting songs about depression, drugs, violence, and other heavy subjects, including unflinching Murder Ballads (the title of the accompanying 1996 album on which PJ Harvey and Shane McGowan appear), the other the purveyor of lightweight bum-swinging pop usually written by others. Certainly Kylie had never done anything like this before, and it came at an odd time in her career when her post-Neighbours pop persona was looking for something new. Yet she took to it like a duck to water, literally, with the video inspired by John Everett Millais's painting Ophelia, and her voice sounding rather beautiful when allowed to breathe as "Elisa Day", and not forced into high-octane squeaking through the production values of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Inevitably, as with all the songs on this album, things take a deadly turn, with the rose destroyed at the hands of her lover. It’s beautifully written and performed by both.
On the third day he took me to the river
He showed me the roses and we kissed
And the last thing I heard was a muttered word
As he stood smiling above me with a rock in his fist.
On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind light as a thief
As I kissed her goodbye, I said, 'All beauty must die'
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth.
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