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Nick Cave, Dizzee Rascal Attempt to Rescue Dull Plug Awards

March 7, 2008 1:35 PM ET

Does the music industry really need another way to celebrate albums released in 2007? Last night's Plug Awards seemed to answer the question by irreverently referring to its trophies as Butt Plugs. At New York's Terminal 5, industry insiders and indie-rock fans engaged in a night of back-slapping at the fourth annual ceremony, which recognized the best of independent music as chosen by an insular board of a few hundred tastemakers, industry folk, music fans and more. No one seemed remotely interested in the event, which amped up its nerd quotient by featuring a location called the "Blogger's Pit."

Still, there were some minor celebrities in attendance: Most of the guys from the National were in the crowd chatting with friends (frontman Matt Berninger wisely stayed home); the tall dude from Vampire Weekend milled about; Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen looked like he was desperately searching for the exit. While the awards portion moved briskly — Arcade Fire's Neon Bible took home top honors for Album of the Year — the best part by far was the performances.

British hip-hopper Dizzee Rasca ran through his killer hit "Fix Up Look Sharp" and show closer Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds teased new material from his forthcoming record Dig Lazarus Dig!!! The dour Aussie legend, who weirdly enough looked the spitting image of Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, took turns between playing guitar and wailing on an organ, as the Dirty Three's Warren Ellis spiked the tunes with some creeptastic violin drones on fan-faves like "Tupelo." The set brought some much-needed spark to an otherwise dull event.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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