Nick Cave

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Nick Cave in 2009

Nick Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, songwriter, poet, author and actor.



  • The song is heroic because the song confronts death. The song is immortal and bravely stares down our own extinction. The song emerges from the spirit world with a true message: Some day I will tell you how to slay the dragon.
  • Do you want to know how to write a song? Song-writing is about counterpoint. Counterpoint is the key. Putting two disparate images beside each other and seeing which way the sparks fly. Like letting a small child in the same room as, I don't know, a Mongolian psychopath or something, and just sitting back and seeing what happens. Then you send in a clown, say, on a tricycle, and again, you wait, and you watch ... And if that doesn't do it... you shoot the clown.
  • Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite, it is an act of self-murder that destroys all one has strived to produce in the past. It is those dangerous, heart-stopping departures that catapult the artist beyond the limits of what he or she recognises as their known self. This is part of the authentic creative struggle that precedes the invention of a unique lyric of actual value; it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.

God and religion[edit]

  • Do I personally believe in a personal God? No.
  • God has matured. He is not the impulsive, bowelless being of the Testaments - the vehement glorymonger, with His bag of cheap carny tricks and his booming voice - the fiery huckster with his burning bushes and his wonder wands. Nowadays God knows what He wants and He knows who He wants.
  • My responsibility as an artist is to turn up at the page or the piano or the microphone. The rest is up to God.
    • The Daily Telegraph (Novevember 20, 1997)
  • The actualising of God through the medium of the love song remains my prime motivation as an artist.
    • Given during a lecture at the Vienna Poetry Festival (1998)
  • Of course I doubt [the existence of God], I would distrust anybody who didn't doubt. But I'm a believer. I have an understanding and belief in the divinity of things. It seems to me that people look at God in the wrong way. They think that God is there to serve them, but it's the other way around. God isn't some kind of cosmic bell-boy to be called upon to sort things out for us. It's important for us to realise that God has given us the potential to sort things out on our own.
    • Observer (May, 1998)
  • Oh, a passing, skeptical kind of interest. I'm a hammer-and-nails kind of guy.
    • Cave on his interest in Eastern and nontheistic spirituality
  • The concept of God in America is very different than it is in England. Because we see the horrendous outcome of religion as being an American thing, in which the name of God has been hijacked by a gang of psychopaths and bullies and homophobes, and the name of God has been used for their own twisted agendas. So that if you mention God, or a belief in God, in England, it's almost automatically associated with that kind of thinking. Religion's gotten a really bad name.
  • Although I've never been an atheist, there are periods when I struggled with the whole thing. As someone who uses words, you need to able to justify your belief with language, I'd have arguments and the atheist always won because he'd go back to logic. Belief in God is illogical, it's absurd. There's no debate. I feel it intuitively, it comes from the heart, a magical place. But I still I fluctuate from day to day. Sometimes I feel very close to the notion of God, other times I don't. I used to see that as a failure. Now I see it as a strength, especially compared to the more fanatical notions of what God is. I think doubt is an essential part of belief.
    • Mojo (January, 2005)
  • God is in everything whether I’m mentioning him or not.
  • The brutality of the Old Testament inspired me, the stories and grand gestures. I wrote that stuff up and it influenced the way I saw the world. What I'm trying to say is I didn't walk around in a rage thinking God is a hateful god. I was influenced by looking at the Bible, and it suited me in my life vision at the time to see things in that way. .... After a while I started to feel a little kinder and warmer to the world, and at the same time started to read the New Testament.
  • If you're involved with imagination and the creative process, it's not such a difficult thing to believe in a God. But I'm not involved in any religions, and I've never intended to make religious records or records that preach some kind of point of view.

Ageing and death[edit]

  • The thing about being young is that you think you're the final product of evolution. You are invincible. And nothing can hurt you. And people don't count. Ah, the solipsism of youth.
    • Melody Maker (May, 1997)

Love and relationships[edit]

  • I don't particularly believe all love is doomed. But I guess, one is usually kinda suffering from some aborted love affair or association, rather than being at the peak of one. I think it's fairly obvious that a lot more suffering goes on in the name of love than the little happiness you can squeeze out of it. But I wouldn't like to dwell on it. Perhaps you could lighten up a bit.
    • Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock, by Simon Reynolds (1988)
  • Love is a state that I would like to exist in continuously.
    • The Daily Telegraph (November 20, 1997)


Politics, society and humanity[edit]

  • My social conscience is fairly limited in a lot of ways; there's not much I'm angry about that doesn't affect me quite directly. But the prison system- not particularly capital punishment- but the penal system as it is, and the whole apparatus of judgement, people deciding on other people's fates... that does irritate, and upset me quite a lot. What angers me about the system goes beyond the unreliability of "proof"… it's that the way criminals are dealt with has nothing to do with rehabilitation and readjusting people who've stepped outside society's norms. The same goes for mental institutions and so forth. But it's also the very idea of someone being judged "criminal" or "insane" because they're unable to fit into what a corrupt society considers "social" or "sociable".
  • I think there's a certain numbness in modern society, that accepts certain kinds of violence, but represses other kinds of violence.
  • I'd rather see what makes me different as something almost congenital. And I have these inklings that what you commit or endure in this world, relates to some kind of justice or balance. Maybe if you get a bad deal in this world, it is because of something you did, or were, in a previous life. Which is why I don't feel sorry for the poor.
    • Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock, by Simon Reynolds (1988)
  • 'N is for Any'
    • Nick Cave on spelling. -From Loverman (1994).


  • Bunny takes another bite of his Big Mac and knows what everybody who is into this sort of things knows - that with its flaccid bun, its spongy meat, the cheese, the slimy little pickle and, of course, the briny special sauce, biting into a Big Mac is as close to eating pussy as, well, eating pussy.
    • The Death of Bunny Munro (2009)
  • The boy watches his father cross the road and thinks there is something about the way his dad moves through the world that is truly impressive. Cars screech to a halt, drives shake their fists and stick their heads out the windows and curse and blow their horns and Bunny walks on as if radiating some super-human force field, like he has walked off the pages of a comic book. The world can't touch him. He seems to be the grand generator of some hyper-powerful electricity.
    • The Death of Bunny Munro (2009)

And The Ass Saw The Angel

Song lyrics[edit]

Prayers on Fire (1981)[edit]

Zoo-Music Girl[edit]
  • The sound is beautiful, it's perfect!
    The sound of her young legs in stockings,
    The rhythm of her walk, it's beautiful!
    Just let it twist, let it break,
    Let it buckle, let it bend,
    I want to hear the noise of my Zoo-Music Girl.
  • My body is a monster driven insane,
    My heart is a fish toasted in flames.
  • Oh! God! Please let me die beneath her fists!
Nick the Stripper[edit]
  • Nick the Stripper,
    Hideous to the eye,
    Hideous to the eye,
    He's a fat little insect,
    A fat little insect,
    And oooooooh! Here we go again.
King Ink[edit]
  • King Ink strolls into town...
    He sniffs around.
  • Express thyself! Say something loudly! Aaaaaaah!
    What's in that room, Sonny?
  • King Ink feels like a bug,
    Swimming in a soup-bowl.
  • Oh! Yer! What a wonderful life! Fats Domino on the radio!
A Dead Song[edit]
  • Hit it! With words like Blood, Soldier and Mother...
Just You and Me[edit]
  • I tried to kill it in my bed,
    I gagged it with a pillow,
    But awoke the nuns inside my head.

Junkyard (1982)[edit]

She's Hit[edit]
  • Pilgrim gets 1 hacked daughter,
    And all we get are 40 hack reporters,
    Uptown 100 skirts are bleeding,
    And Mr. Evangilist says She's hit, ev'ry little bit.
  • I am the king! I am the king! I am the king!
    One dead marine through the hatch,
    Scratch and scrape this heavenly body,
    Every inch of winning skin,
    Honey Honey Honey Honey Honey, come and kiss me-e-e-e-e-e!
Release the Bats[edit]
  • My baby is alright,
    She doesn't mind a bit of dirt,
    She says 'Horror vampire bat bite, sex vampire, how I wish those bats would bite',
    Woooooah! Bite! Bite! Release the bats!

From Her to Eternity (1984)[edit]

Cabin Fever![edit]
  • The Captain's fore-arm like buncht-up rope,
    With Anita wrigglin' free onto skull n' dagger,
    And a portrait of Christ, nailed to an anchor,
    Etched into the upper...
  • Tallys up his loneliness, notch by notch,
    For the sea offers nuthin' to hold or touch.
Well of Misery[edit]
  • Along crags and sunless cracks I go,
    Up rib of rock, down spine of stone,
    I dare not slumber where the right winds whistle,
    Lest her creeping-soul clutch this heart of thistle.
  • Put ya shoulder to the handle, if ya dare, and hoist that bucket hither,
    Crank'n'hoist'n'hoist'n'crank, till ya muscles waste'n'wither.
  • O the same God that abandon'd her,
    Has in turn abandon'd me,
    Deep in the Desert of Despair,
    I wait at the Well of Misery.
From Her to Eternity[edit]
  • O ah hear her walkin',
    Walkin' barefoot 'cross the floor-boards,
    All thru this lonesome night,
    And ah hear her crying too.
    Hot-tears come splashin' down,
    Leaking thru the cracks,
    Down upon my face, ah catch'em in my mouth!
  • Ah read her diary on her sheets,
    Scrutinizin' every lil' piece of dirt,
    Tore out a page'n'stufft it inside my shirt.
    Fled outa the window,
    And shinning it down the vine,
    Outa her night-mare, and back into mine.
Saint Huck[edit]
'O come to me!, O come to me!' is what the dirty city say to Huck.
  • 'O come to me!, O come to me!' is what the dirty city say to Huck.
  • Straight in the arms of the city goes Huck,
    Down the beckonin' streets of op-po-tunity,
    Whistling his favorite river-song...
    And a bad-blind nigger at the piano puts a sinister blooo lilt into that sing-a-long,
    Huck senses something's wrong!
  • The mo-o-o-on, its huge cycloptic eye,
    Watches the city streets contract, twist and cripple and crack.
  • O you recall the song ya used to sing-a-long,
    Shifting the river-trade on that ol' steamer,
    Life is but a dream!
A Box for Black Paul[edit]
  • When ya done ransackin' his room,
    Grabbin' any-damn-thing that shines,
    Throw the scraps down on the street,
    Like all his books and his notes.
    All his books and his notes and all the junk that he wrote,
    The whole fucken lot goes right up in smoke.
  • Here is the hammer, that build the scaffold, and built the box...
  • From the words and the thickets,
    Come the ghosts of his victims,
    'We love you!'
    'Ah love you!'
    This will not hurt a bit.
  • Death favours those that favour death.
  • Ah've cried one thousand tears, it's true.

The Firstborn Is Dead (1985)[edit]

  • Looka yonder! Looka yonder! A big black cloud come!
  • In a clap-board shack with a roof of tin,
    Where the rain came down and leaked within,
    A young mother frozen on a concrete floor,
    With a bottle and a box and a cradle of straw.
  • Well saturday gives what sunday steals,
    And a child is born on his brother's heels,
    Come sunday morn the first-born is dead,
    In a shoebox tied with a ribbon of red.
  • Tupelo-o-o! Hey, Tupelo! You will reap just what you sow.
Black Crow King[edit]
  • I just made a simple gesture,
    They jumped up and nailed it to my shadow,
    My gesture was a hooker,
    You know, my shadow's made of timber.
  • I am the black crow king,
    Keeper of the forgotten corn,
    The King!
Knockin' on Joe[edit]
  • O Warden, I surender to you,
    Your fists cain't hurt me anymore,
    You know, these hands will never wash,
    These dirty Death Row floors.
  • O You kings of halls and ends of halls,
    You will die within these walls,
    And I'll go, all down the row,
    Knockin' on Joe.
Blind Lemon Jefferson[edit]
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson is a-comin',
    Tap tap tappin', with his cane.
  • Here comes the Judgement train! Git on board!
The Six Strings That Drew Blood[edit]
  • Numbin' the runt of reputation they call rat frame,
    Top-E as a tourniquet,
    A low tune whistles across his grave,
    Forever the slave of his Six Strings.

Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)[edit]

Your Funeral… My Trial[edit]
  • A thousand Marys lured me,
    To feathered beds and fields of glover,
    Bird with crooked wing cast,
    Its wicked shadow over,
    A bauble moon did mock,
    And trinket stars did smile,
    Your funeral, my trial.
The Carny[edit]
  • The carny had a horse, all skin and bone,
    A bow-backed nag, that he named "Sorrow",
    Now it is buried in a shallow grave,
    In the then parched meadow.
  • And as the company passed from the valley, into a higher ground,
    The rain beat on the ridge and on the meadow, and on the mound,
    Until nothing was left, nothing at all except the body of Sorrow,
    That rose in time, to float upon the surface of the eaten soil.

Tender Prey (1988)[edit]

The Mercy Seat[edit]
I hear stories from the chamber,
How Christ was born into a manger,
And like some ragged stranger died up on the cross...
  • I hear stories from the chamber,
    How Christ was born into a manger,
    And like some ragged stranger died up on the cross,
    And might I say it seems to fitting in its way,
    He was a carpenter by trade,
    Or at least that's what I'm told.
  • In heaven His throne is made of gold,
    Where the ark of His testament is stowed,
    A throne from which I'm told all history does unfold,
    Down here it's made of wood and wire,
    And my body is on fire,
    And God is never far away.
  • And the mercy seat is melting,
    And I think my blood is boiling,
    And in a way I'm spoiling,
    All the fun with all this truth and consequence.
    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,
    And anyway I told the truth,
    And I'm not afraid to die.
Up Jumped the Devil[edit]
  • My oh My,what a wretched Life.
    I was born on the day that my poor mama died.
    I was cut from Her belly with a stanley knife.
    My daddy did a jig with the drunk midwife
  • O poor heart, I was doomed from the start,
    Doomed to play the villian's part,
    I was the baddest Johnny in the apple cart,
    My blood was blacker than the chambers of a dead nun's heart.
  • Who's that yonder all in flames?
    Draggin' behind him a sack of chains
    Who's that yonder all in flames?
    Up jumped the Devil and staked his claim
  • O no don't go O no O slow down Joe!
    The righteous path is straight as an arrow,
    Take a walk and you'll find it's too narrow,
    Too narrow for the likes of me.
  • Thrown into a dungeon,
    Bread and water was my portion,
    Faith - my only weapon,
    To rest the devil's legion.
    The speak-hole would slide open,
    A viper's voice would pleade,
    A voice think with innuendo,
    Syphillis and greed.
  • The moon was turned toward me,
    Like a platter made of gold,
    My death, it almost bored me,
    So often was it told.
City of Refuge[edit]
  • In the days of madness, my brother, my sister,
    When you're dragged toward the Hell-mouth,
    You will beg for the end, but there ain't gonna be one, friend,
    For the grave will spew you out! It will spew you out!
New Morning[edit]
One morn I awakened, a new sun was shining,
The sky was a kingdom, all covered in blood.
  • One morn I awakened, a new sun was shining,
    The sky was a kingdom, all covered in blood.
    The moon and the stars, where the troops that lay conquered,
    Like food left to wither, poor spirital food.
  • The spears of the bright sun, all brave with its conquest,
    Did hover unearthly, in banners of fire.
    I knelt in the garden, awash with the dawning,
    And a voice came so brightly, I covered my eyes.
  • Let there be no sadness, no sorrow,
    Let there be no road too narrow,
    There'll be a new day, and it's today,
    For all of us.

The Bad Seed EP (1993)[edit]

Wild World[edit]
  • Hold me up baby, for I may fall,
    Hold my dish-rag body tall,
    Our bodies melt together, we are one,
    Post-crucifixion baby, post-crucifixion and all undone.
Fears of Gun[edit]
  • Fingers down the throat of love! Love! Love!
Deep in the Woods[edit]
  • The woods eats the woman and dumps her honey-body in the mud,
    Her dress floats down the well and it assumes the shape of the body of a little girl,
    Yeah, I recognize that girl,
    She stumbled in some time last loneliness,
    But I could not stand to touch her now,
    My one and only onlyness.
  • I took her from rags right through to stitches,
    Oh baby, tonight we sleep in separate ditches.

Mutiny (1993)[edit]

Jennifer's Veil[edit]
  • Another ship ready to dock... the rigging comes loose... like Jennifer's Veil.
Mutiny in Heaven[edit]
  • If this is heaven ahm bailin' out!
  • Ah wassa born...
    And Lord shakin', even then was dumpt into some icy font,
    Like some great stinky unclean!
    From slum-chuch to slum-church, ah spilt mah heart to some fat cunt behind a screen...
  • Punishment? Reward! Punishment? Reward!
  • Well, ah tied on, percht on mah bed ah was,
    Sticken' a needle in mah arm, Ah tied off,
    Fucken wings burst out mah back!
  • Rats in paradise! Rats in paradise!

Quotes about Nick Cave[edit]

  • He is an Australian artist like Sidney Nolan is an Australian artist - beyond comparison, beyond genre, beyond dispute.
  • I'm looking forward to working with Nick on something special one day. .... He has an amazing gift, a level of spirituality and self-realisation in his writing you don't often find. A Hemingway or Xavier Herbert of our time.
  • Nick Cave and myself got up and did karaoke in Brisbane one night at this Mongolian BBQ karaoke restaurant. It was just a bunch of normal, Brisbane folk. Me and Nick got up to do "Fernado", "Sometimes When We Touch" and "He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother". I was just playing the straight man, but Nick was doing the whole Birthday Party bit, with the kneedrops and the 'Raarrggh!', running up to tables doing the cabaret terrorist act, kissing old ladies. They took it for two numbers, and by the third they'd had enough and wanted to go back to, well, enjoying their evening.
    • Tex Perkins
    • Source: Rolling Stone Magazine (July, 1993)
  • There was one review [of Stadium Arcadium] by an English newspaper where the guy really hated us and it was full of insults and descriptions about how terrible and worthless we are and how inane our music is. The guy mentioned that Nick Cave really thought we were a shitty band and printed a quote that Nick Cave had said in that regard. For a second that hurt my feelings because I love Nick Cave. I have all of his records. I don't care if Nick Cave hates my band because his music means everything to me and he is one of my favourite songwriters and singers and musicians of all time. I love all the incarnations of the Bad Seeds. But it only hurt my feelings for a second because my love for his music is bigger than all that shit and if he thinks my band is lame then that's OK.
  • Nick Cave's making a lot of money, which is braindeath. I mean, going on tour with the same band for 20 years and playing the same songs–I don't care how you twist them, or torture the songs, you know? If it takes to be a posturing grandpa Wayne Newton-sounding bad Vegas-balladeer to get rich, I don't give a shit. I think this is lame. You know, he was one of the great poets and rocked like no other, but he's pathetic. How do these goth kids buy this crap? That's his genius; he's convinced goth kids to listen to their grandfathers' music.
  • I heard Nick Cave for the first time on an independent radio station in Australia, and the way he uses words is breathtaking. And it’s very melodic at the same time, very anthem-like. He also wrote a book called And the Ass Saw the Angel, from the perspective of a fetus in a womb. He’s really arrogant, but he can afford to be.
  • He taught me to never veer too far from who I am, but to go further, try different things, and never lose sight of myself at the core.
  • Outside the world of politics, one person in the world of the arts I would mention as an influence is Nick Cave, another person who has been around since the late 1970s. He has developed and changed remarkably, whilst remaining true to his vision. He has been a great help to me as well, without his knowing it.
  • I listen to his records and go to his concerts. That's the greatest compliment I can pay an artist.
  • On 30 March 1983 The Birthday Party played Los Angeles. Me and all the guys from Black Flag went to see them do two sets at a small place called The Roxy, and they were thoroughly godhead. They were one of the all-time premier live bands. .... I see Nick about once a year, which is about as much as I see anybody I don't work with. But that means when I do run into him it's really great to see him. He's an excellent human and I love him a lot and that's the bottom line, he's one of my favourite people, and I think he's a tremendous artist. He has a great band, too. The Bad Seeds are a band I will travel a great distance to see whenever possible. What Nick goes after is so incredibly interesting every time, because it's always different. He always takes chances. The art comes before the commerce. As far as the music business goes, he's one of the good guys. He's the real thing.

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