Moby Weathers the Storm on Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

It’s very possibly the most beautifully broken record he’s ever recorded.

Moby’s 15th album, Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, starts with a haunting whisper that digs right into the listener’s soul. It’s a return to his orchestral, trip-hop, gospel, inspirational soul roots—and it’s very possibly the most beautifully broken record he’s ever recorded.

I first met Moby back in the fall of 1995 when I was DJing at Enit, the electronic music festival Perry Farrell created as an after party for Lollapalooza. Moby was headlining and I’d never seen him perform live. I had no idea what to expect. The crowd was a sexy mix of rockers and cool punk kids, but what I remember most about that night was how people all around me just lost their minds when Moby picked up a guitar mid-set and covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” It was just so unexpected from a techno artist. And it was crazy good, dripping in emotion. It was one of those performances that registered so deeply inside me, it just never left.

I felt that way again listening to Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt. The record starts with the melancholy “Mere Anarchy.” Moby’s voice is gentle here, bruised somehow. He warns us to look at what’s going on around us: “Caution waits, but never finds hope / Caution lifts, we did this wrong / Caution has the way, and I don’t feel this anymore.” It’s like he’s saying, Wake up!  Wake the fuck up! We’re running out of time. It’s a lonely track that leaves me unsettled and wondering if he’s right…wondering if we will watch cities fall.

Before I can dwell on those thoughts, the sexy groove of “Like a Motherless Child” takes firm hold of me. It’s reminiscent of Moby’s 2002 masterpiece “Extreme Ways.” The song is a reworking of the traditional spiritual song “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,”  which originally dates to over a century and a half ago in the era of American slavery. With that emotional backdrop, singer Raquel Rodriguez’s lush alto calls out to us: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” The pure simplicity of her delivery is a glorious contrast to Moby’s slightly sinister lead vocal. The trip-hop vibe drives us onward. We lose our bodies to the music, but our minds are filled with questions: questions about the motherless children of Earth. Why don’t we do more to help them? The motherless…the unprotected.

I wonder if Moby chose this cover art, a bull dressed in a business suit reading to his calf, to call attention to animal rights. He is an animal rights activist, and he’s written that all proceeds from this record are going to animal rights. As an animal lover myself, I think this is such a beautiful gift!

I find myself curled up, riding the storm this music has stirred in me, when the violins hit and my favorite song on the album fills the air. “The Tired and the Hurt” is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music. The lyrics here are simple, but they do exactly what we need them to do. They give us a glimmer of hope! They remind us that we’ve weathered storms before, and we’ve survived…even if we haven’t learned our lesson yet. Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurt is a trip well worth taking.

Traci Lords is an American actress. She’s appeared in dozens of films and television shows from Roger Corman’s Not Of This Earth, John Water’s Cry BabyBladeZack & Miri Make a Porno to Excision; from Melrose Place, Roseanne, Will & Grace and Gilmore Girls to series regular roles on NBC’s Profiler and Syfy’s First Wave. Her pioneering techno album 1000 Fires (Radioactive/MCA) topped the Billboard Dance Chart and was featured on both the Mortal Combat and Virtuosity soundtracks. She is also a  successful designer and her line, Traci Lords for Couture for Every Body is available at PinupGirl ClothingShe lives in Los Angeles with her husband, young son and their rescue German Shepherd.