Nick Cave has given a beautifully weighted response to a fan who wants his “rage, anger, hatred” back.
The songwriter’s album ‘Ghosteen’ marked a break with the past, the often fragrantly beautiful record touching upon life’s luminescence. Bad Seeds fans were largely supportive, but there were a few naysayers – such as the latest letter sent to Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files.
A kind of slo-mo AMA set-up, the latest letter urges Nick Cave to re-discover “rage, anger, hatred” while adding that the songwriter has become “a Hallmark card hippie”.
Instead of rising to this, Nick Cave simply tells it as it is, his response conjuring memories of grief and an over-arching empathy in his world view.
“Things changed after my first son died. I changed. For better or for worse, the rage you speak of lost its allure and, yes, perhaps I became a Hallmark card hippie.”
“Hatred stopped being interesting. Those feelings were like old dead skins that I shed. They were their own kind of puke. Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something, had some kind of nobility, hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there, and making sure that everybody around me knew it, not just knew, but felt it too, contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb.”
Reflecting on the loss of his son Arthur in 2015, he wrote: “When my son died, I was faced with an actual devastation, and with no real effort of my own that posture of disgust toward the world began to wobble and collapse underneath me. I started to understand the precarious and vulnerable position of the world. I started to fret for it. Worry about it. I felt a sudden, urgent need to, at the very least, extend a hand in some way to assist it – this terrible, beautiful world – instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it.”
Answering the original letter, Nick Cave writes: “Perhaps, Ermine, you are right, and I did, for good or ill, turn from a living shit-post into a walking Hallmark card. But, well, here we are, you and me, sending smoke signals to each other across a yawning ideological divide. Hello Ermine, I drone, hello.”