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Nick Cave Explains Why He Doesn’t Write Political Songs

"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..."

As protests against racism and police brutality continue around the world, many artists have shared their thoughts and feelings through changing lyrics of existing songs or penning new tracks that highlight the world’s current climate.

However when one fan asked Nick Cave about why his song catalog isn’t “more overtly politically outspoken,” the singer-songwriter, in his latest essay in The Red Hand Files, explains why his songs “are in the business of saving the soul of the world.”

“Songs with political agendas inhabit a different space,” he wrote. “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. My 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.”

While Cave acknowledges that some of his music can “speak into the current situation,” he’s also fine if they don’t.

“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,” he wrote.

Cave concludes his essay by saying that he doesn’t have too much control of what lyrics end up in a song and even said that he probably could write a protest song. However, he explained, “…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.”

Read Nick Cave’s latest entry in The Red Hand Files here.

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