Here's Why Nick Cave Doesn't Write "Songs with Political Agendas"
His "are in the business of saving the soul of the world"
Published Jun 23, 2020Nick Cave has seldom shied away from answering personal and political-minded questions from listeners on his Red Hand Files website, and a recent post from the artist finds him discussing politically-charged songwriting.
A new note finds a listener asking Cave if he ever wished his songwriting was "more overtly politically outspoken" in an activist sense, while acknowledging the "common suffering" that has at times informed his solo work and catalogue with the Bad Seeds.
"Songs with political agendas inhabit a different space," Cave writes in opening his lengthy answer. "They have little patience for nuance, neutrality or impartiality. Their aim is to get the message across in as clear and persuasive a manner as possible. There can be great value in these sorts of songs, but they are usually born from a particular combination of rigidity and zealousness, which I personally do not possess."
Rather, Cave finds that his songs "seem to be resistant to fixed, inflexible points of view. They have, as you say, a concern for common, non-hierarchical suffering. They are not in the business of saving the world; rather they are in the business of saving the soul of the world…"
He continued: "Sometimes my songs speak into the current situation and sometimes they do not. I am mostly happy with that. I am happy that people can come to my songs and — even though they may be challenging or confronting — they do not preach and do not divide, and are offered to everyone, without exception.
"I guess I could write a protest song, but I think I would, in the end, feel compromised in doing so, not because there aren't things I am fundamentally opposed to — there are — but because I would be using my particular talents to deal with something I consider to be morally obvious. Personally, I have little inclination to do that. It's just not what I do."
You can read Cave's complete answer here. Earlier this month, he was forced to cancel a North American tour with the Bad Seeds behind last year's Ghosteen.