I love the music, words and voice of Nick Cave. The bloke is different class, and, for me, connected deeply into whatever it is that makes our world go round. Old Testament prophet meets 21st century libidinous poet.
Most people have heard ‘Red Right Hand’, the Peaky Blinders soundtrack. Try ‘Into My Arms’, the sweetest love song, that opens with the words: “I don’t believe in an interventionist God.” Nobody else could pull that off.
You could do worse than listen to ‘O Children’, Nick’s take on the terror and agony of judgement day. Or a peek at the video of his Glastonbury performance of ‘Stagger Lee, where performer and fan get beautifully mixed up.
For the unhinging, magisterial power of sex, Ray Winstone gets it right in the video of ‘Jubilee Street’. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve82BbCk2fc).
‘To Be By Your Side’ is my funeral song. The long journey of the geese in the video, thousands of miles, to find the light. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0v9vd4JEeo). That touched something deep.
Nick lost his son, Arthur, in 2015. He responded three years later to a fan’s letter asking if he and his wife felt that Arthur was communicating in some way.
This is a very beautiful question and I am grateful that you have asked it. It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.
I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.
With love, Nick.
The gift of grief. Cave the ferryman, rowing us towards the world of spirit.