Nick Cave remains in a class by himself. On one hand, he's the most gothic person alive, but on the other he's so unique in his contributions that when we sat down to make a list of all the different eras of goth music, we simply had to leave him out because he doesn't fit anywhere. He's a statistical anomaly, a mutation, the homo superior of all that is dark and strange.
On top of all that, he may in fact be the coolest person on the planet. You know those Dos Equis commercials about the most interesting man in the world? Nick Cave is that guy, but with better taste. Bizarre wonders appear all around him.
Our favorites include...
The MTV Video Music Awards used to be a pretty big deal, and against all odds Cave found himself nominated for Best Male Artist in 1996 based of the videos he shot for Murder Ballads. The fact that they were duets with PJ Harvey and Kylie Minogue didn't hurt.
Where some artists might have been glad for the record sales a nomination, or even better a win, would produce, Cave thought it over and asked to be withdrawn from consideration... and from all future consideration.
You can read his beautiful, logical, and still somehow crazy letter to MTV here. Cave is polite and thankful, even grateful for the attention that MTV had brought him and for the honor that their recognition bestowed upon him, but he felt that his music was better off not being part of a competition.
"My muse is not a horse and I am in no horse race and if indeed she was, still I would not harness her to this tumbrel--this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes. My muse may spook! May bolt! May abandon me completely!"
We are so using this the next time we quit a job.
We once read a description of Nick Cave that called him "Devout, yet troubled." There's no doubt that Christianity has played an enormous role in his life and art, and yet his personal interpretation of Scripture is so tailored to him and him alone that it's difficult to equate his ever-evolving faith with anything that could be called conventional Christianity.
Which is why the idea of him writing an introduction for the Gospel According to Mark for Pocket Cannon Bibles is so bizarre. Who else on the planet is possibly identify with the spirituality of one of the most bizarre and twisted artists in the world?
Cave's view of his favorite book of the Bible is of Christ as a rage-filled, intense man at odds with the world he's trying to save. The sparse narrative and raw matter-of-fact tone reveals, to Cave at least, the forgotten human side of the savior rather than the idealized Son of God.
All in all, Cave more or less calls the Jesus we see commonly portrayed "smiling benignly at a group of children or serenely hanging from the cross" a pathetic wuss that doesn't have the balls necessary to do justice to Christ's existence. That image of Him "denies Christ His potent, creative sorrow or His boiling anger."
What a reader loses in those interpretations is the ability to identify with the actual struggle Jesus went through. In an odd way, Cave makes a lot of sense, but it sure isn't the way you usually hear people talk about the Gospel of Mark. You can read his essay here.
Grinderman, Nick Cave's latest musical endeavor, took a while to grow on us. The first album we felt was sort of meh, but once we saw the video for "Heathen Child" off of Grinderman 2 we finally saw what Nick Cave was trying to accomplish; the utter destruction of your mind and soul.
The video made our Top 10 Music Videos of 2010, something we're actually sort of ashamed of having done after reading that VMA letter. Still, it remains the most mid-bogglingly thing we've ever seen in the realm of cinematic music.
Frankly, the video is a good approximation of what we think doing crystal meth with Beelzebub would be like. A girl in a bathtub is continuously visited by a host of demonic spirits while Cave and company dance around in centurion garb and shoot fireballs from out of their asses - no, we're not kidding.
Everyone who saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 did the exact same thing. Ron Weasley is gone, leaving Harry and Hermione to continue the quest to find and destroy Voldemort's horcruxes alone. Camped out in the middle of the woods, the two sit forlornly listening to the radio, then get up to sadly dance together. People in the theatre sat there mentally going, "This wasn't in the books. Wow, what a good scene. HOLY SHIT! Are they listening to Nick Cave!"
They were. The song was "O Children," and music supervisor Matt Biffa found the tune while he was going through divorce. Something about the dark plea for atonement stuck with Biffa, and he worked hard to sell using it to director David Yates. Many other songs were considered, but in the end Cave was it. "After they did the first couple takes, I looked over and a couple of the makeup girls were crying," Biffa said in an interview with the LA Times. "Then I felt all right. We nailed it."
So far as we know, Cave hasn't commented on the use of his track, but the thought of him being involved in something that sparked so much outrageously misplaced religious protest must have brought at least a small grin to his face.
On the other hand, look, we know that the books aren't really children's books after Goblet of Fire, but do we really want to think about teenagers watching these films, falling in love with "O Children" seeking out Nick Cave, and coming across something like "the Curse of Milhaven?"
Then of course, there's the implication that if Harry and Hermione are listening to Cave on a magical radio then he may in fact be a wizard himself, something that we wouldn't put past him.
Nick Cave has written some pretty good scripts, including one for the critically-acclaimed film the Proposition. Knowing that Cave could think so far outside the box that looking back and seeing the box required binoculars, his friend Russell Crowe asked him to see what he could do with a sequel to Gladiator.
Doesn't Crowe's character Maximus die in Gladiator? Like, really, really die? Yes he does, and for a man with more fucks to give this might have been an obstacle. However, Cave is the man who wrote the Lyre of Orpheus, and he knows that when someone dies in Greco-Roman mythology, you keep going forwards, not backwards.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In Cave's script Maximus goes all God of War in the afterlife, then spends eternity roaming around like Orlando, but being too macho to ever switch genders. He continues fighting through Vietnam and World War II, eventually ends up working for the Pentagon.
Ridley Scott and Crowe loved the script, but Hollywood, a land more sequel happy than the Duggar family, would have none of it. Probably because they know that if they make the movie they will all be out of jobs since no further movies would ever be required.