“Watching Alice” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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“The Mercy Seat” is the song that gets all the attention from Cave’s classic 1988 album “Tender Prey.” While “Seat” is a stunner, “Watching Alice” should be equally acclaimed. It’s quiet and melancholy in comparison to the intense “The Mercy Seat,” but no less disturbing. The lyrics relate to a man watching a female get dressed year after year “in her palace” where he believes she is held captive. It’s clear she has no idea he’s watching her and he keeps saying “It’s so depressing, it’s cruel.” Cave really inhabits this sad, pathetic creature quite well. The song shares DNA with Van Morrison’s “Cyrpus Avenue” and Randy Newman’s “Suzanne,” two other classic stalker ballads.

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“Suzanne” – Randy Newman

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Forget the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” As creepy as that song is, Randy Newman’s “Suzanne” is even more disturbing. If Sting sounded coldly calculating in his stalker anthem, Newman adds a quiet confidence that is terrifying. The song is arranged like a nightmare: lazy piano rhythms lull you into a sense of relaxation while an organ nervously tries to tell you something’s wrong. Except the organ isn’t quite loud or powerful enough to warn you in time.

Though, leave it to Newman to have the last laconic, dry-as the-Sahara observation about his protagonist: “This guy is not really much of a threat.”