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Nick Cave on making peace with the artists that have “disappointed” him

Nick Cave has recalled making peace with the artists that have “disappointed” him, explaining that he is willing to look beyond their personal decisions if the art they make is “authentic”.

The Bad Seeds frontman discussed the topic in a new update on his blog, The Red Hand Files, after a fan got in touch with him to question him about his “religious turn” and asked if he ever feels like he is “letting down [his] queer and female fans”.

Responding, Cave went on to share his own experience of being disappointed by artists he once admired and explained how he was able to look beyond their personal choices and enjoy their artwork for what it is.

“When I think of the artists that I truly admire, those that I have stuck with over the years, at some point in their lengthy careers they have all disappointed me,” he began.

“Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nina Simone, Kanye, Van Morrison, Morrissey, Brian Eno, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith – these are artists that, for me, form a kind of confederacy of excellence, but at one time or another they have each alienated, confounded or displeased me. They have often not travelled in the direction I would have hoped or wished for, instead following their own confounding paths (damn them!) to their own truths.

“In the course of this I have sometimes been discomforted by things they have done, disagreed with things they have said, or not liked a particular record they have made. Yet there is something about them that keeps me captivated, and forever alert to what they might do next.”

He continued: “More than anything, this has to do with their authenticity. I know that on a fundamental level they are on their own path and they are not in the business of shaping their lives, artistic or otherwise, in order to please or make others feel better. They are fully and acutely authentic, regardless of my feelings, or the feelings of anyone else and I find this deeply reassuring in a world that so often feels devoid of genuineness. In fact, if I sense that an artist is creating, saying or doing things just to win public approval, or to yield to the demands of the market, well, that’s when I tend to turn away.”

Nick Cave performs as part of the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis “Australian Carnage Tour” at Sydney Opera House on December 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Cave also went on to say that the impact that faith has in his music “is not written with animosity or disrespect”, but rather put forward as he aims to “remain true to myself as a means of respect and to not bend to the needs of others.”

“Our lives are complicated and we all think and do things that are often unfathomable to one another, but we do so because we live our experiences and find our truths in different places. To my considerable surprise, I have found some of my truths in that wholly fallible, often disappointing, deeply weird, and thoroughly human institution of the Church. At times, this is as bewildering to me as it may be to you,” he concluded.

“In the end, I suspect that it is within the music that we will all find one another. Bound together by sound and rhythm, in that special place beyond dogma and opinion and offence, we can make sense of the world.”

The comments by the singer-songwriter come shortly after he spoke about woke culture in a recent interview, and criticised it as having “a lack of mercy” and “a lack of forgiveness”.

He clarified that “the concept that there are problems with the world we need to address, such as social justice; I’m totally down with that.” However, he specified that he didn’t “agree with the methods that are used in order to reach this goal – shutting down people, cancelling people.”

“These [approaches] go against what I fundamentally believe on a spiritual level, as much as anything. So it’s a tricky one. The problem with the right taking hold of this word is that it’s made the discussion impossible to have without having to join a whole load of nutjobs who have their problem with it.”

The discussion also arose after he was questioned about the comments he made back in 2019, when he said he was “repelled” by wokeness and its “lack of humility”.

Nick Cave of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds performs on stage during All Points East at Victoria Park on August 28, 2022 in London, England.
Nick Cave of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds performs on stage during All Points East at Victoria Park on August 28, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Additionally, in 2022 he carried the sentiment over to his views on Kanye West – explaining that while he finds the rapper’s anti-Semitic views “distasteful” and “disappointing”, he doesn’t plan to alter his listening habits because of it.

“It’s been very disappointing to hear [West make] these remarks and such sort of obvious, boring kind of reductive tropes that he’s actually pedalling… [however] on some level I don’t care what Kanye has to say on things. I do love Kanye, his music.”

He added: “It’s a personal choice as to whether you can go on and listen to that person’s music. I personally can. I love Kanye’s music. I feel that he’s done the best music of anybody in some time, the most interesting, challenging, bold music.”

Cave also shared a similar view with NME last May, when he explained how “there’s certainly no metric that says that virtuousness makes good art.”

“I don’t particularly care where my art comes from. It doesn’t bother me if someone wears a For Britain badge [Morrissey] or is an anti-semite or whatever and they’re making extraordinary music,” he said. “It’s not that I agree with their politics, which I don’t, I just think that what they’re putting into the world [with music] is essentially good so it should be encouraged.”

“I don’t think that it’s an accident, or it seems to me that there is some correlation between transgressive and bad behaviour and good art. It’s no accident that the really great stuff is often made by the most problematic people,” he added. “I don’t quite understand it, but there’s certainly no metric that says that virtuousness makes good art. If you start looking around for the good people who make good art, the conversation shuts down very quickly. All the great stuff seems to be made by people who are in some way, out of order in some way or another.”

Currently, the singer is set to release his latest LP ‘Wild God’ in August. He announced the news of the album last month, and also shared the title track as the last single. Following the announcement, he announced that he would be hitting the road as part of a European solo tour this summer. Visit here for remaining tickets.

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