Nick Cave Thoughtfully Addresses the Issue With Changing Old, Problematic Lyrics

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: Nick Cave performs on the Other Stage during day 4 of the 2013 Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 29, 2013 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Nick Cave has been great at answering fan questions on his Red Hand Files site. His responses on a variety of topics have been thorough and thought-provoking.

That said, when fan Gavin from Dublin posed a question about whether or not he needed to change his past problematic lyrics, Cave didn’t hold back.

“These days, some of my songs are feeling a little nervous. They are like children that have been playing cheerfully in the schoolyard, only to be told that all along they have had some hideous physical deformity,” he began his response.

He continued to say that the blame should be on songwriters, not the songs. “Writers should have been more careful with our words,” Cave said.

Cave concluded by saying “If punishment must be administered, punish the creators, not the songs. We can handle it. I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are returning to the U.S. beginning in September for a 15-date run. Last fall, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released Ghosteen, their 17th album overall.

Read his full post from Red Hand Files below:

Dear Gavin,

These days, some of my songs are feeling a little nervous. They are like children that have been playing cheerfully in the schoolyard, only to be told that all along they have had some hideous physical deformity. Their little hearts sink and they piss their pants. They leave the playground burning with shame, as a scornful, self-righteous future turns around with its stone and takes aim.

But what songwriter could have predicted thirty years ago that the future would lose its sense of humour, its sense of playfulness, its sense of context, nuance and irony, and fall into the hands of a perpetually pissed off coterie of pearl-clutchers? How were we to know?

Perhaps we writers should have been more careful with our words – I can own this, and I may even agree – however, we should never blame the songs themselves. Songs are divinely constituted organisms. They have their own integrity. As flawed as they may be, the souls of the songs must be protected at all costs. They must be allowed to exist in all their aberrant horror, unmolested by these strident advocates of the innocuous, even if just as some indication that the world has moved toward a better, fairer and more sensitive place. If punishment must be administered, punish the creators, not the songs. We can handle it. I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive, than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.

Love, Nick

IMPACT

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