Tupelo (song)

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Single by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
from the album The Firstborn Is Dead
Released29 July 1985
Format12" vinyl, 7" vinyl
RecordedDecember 1984 at Hansa Studios, Berlin, Germany
LabelMute Records
Songwriter(s)Barry Adamson, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds singles chronology
"In the Ghetto"
"The Singer"
The Firstborn Is Dead track listing
  1. "Tupelo"
  2. "Say Goodbye to the Little Girl Tree"
  3. "Train Long-Suffering"
  4. "Black Crow King"
  5. "Knockin' on Joe"
  6. "Wanted Man"
  7. "Blind Lemon Jefferson"
  8. "The Six Strings that Drew Blood"
  9. "Tupelo" (single version)

"Tupelo" is the second single by Australian post-punk band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the only single from the band's second album The Firstborn Is Dead.

Background and production[edit]

The song was written by Barry Adamson, Nick Cave and Mick Harvey in mid-late 1984. Using biblical imagery, the song describes the birth of Elvis Presley during a heavy storm in Tupelo, Mississippi.[1] The song is loosely based on the John Lee Hooker song of the same title, which also focuses on a flood in the same town. The "looky looky yonder" motif that is featured in the song is derived from a song of the same name recorded by Lead Belly, usually found as part of a medley which Cave himself covered under the title "Black Betty" on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' third album, Kicking Against the Pricks.

"Tupelo"'s b-side, "The Six Strings That Drew Blood", was recorded in March 1985 at Trident Studios in London and was a re-recording of a song Cave originally recorded with The Birthday Party during the Mutiny EP sessions in 1982. The original version of the song is included on The Birthday Party's Mutiny/The Bad Seed compilation album. "Tupelo" was released on 29 July 1985.

Critical reception[edit]

The song was ranked number 5 among the "Tracks of the Year" for 1985 by NME.[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Nick Cave except where noted.

  • Standard 7" vinyl[3]
  1. "Tupelo" (Barry Adamson, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey) - 5:01
  2. "The Six Strings That Drew Blood" - 4:50
  • Standard 12" vinyl
  1. "Tupelo" - 5:01
  2. "In the Ghetto" (Mac Davis) - 4:08
  3. "The Moon Is In The Gutter" - 2:38
  4. The Six Strings That Drew Blood - 4:50

Cover versions[edit]


Chart (1985) Peak
UK Indie Chart[4] 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds :: Firstborn Is Dead". Aquarium Drunkard. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  2. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Nick Cave Discography on "From The Archives"". From The Archives. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  4. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.