Nick Cave Releases New Single “Grief” Inspired By Fan Question

Joel Ryan

Nick Cave Releases New Single “Grief” Inspired By Fan Question

Joel Ryan

Nick Cave and his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis surprise-released their new album Carnage in February. It was Cave’s first body of work in a while that did not seem directly inspired by the death of his teenage son Arthur a few years ago, though it was still haunted by grief in some ways. And now, in response to a question submitted to his Red Hand Files newsletter, Cave has directly addressed the subject of mourning once again.

In October of 2018, Cave posted his response to a question from a reader named Cynthia. She wrote, “I have experienced the death of my father, my sister, and my first love in the past few years and feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams. They are helping me. Are you and Susie feeling that your son Arthur is with you and communicating in some way?” Here was Cave’s answer:

Dear Cynthia,

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.

Now Cave and Ellis have turned that reply into a 7″ single called “Grief.” In a message accompanying the single, Cave writes, “My reply was the first time I was able to articulate my own contradictory feelings of grief. Letters like Cynthia’s have helped bring me and many others back to the world.” He adds that the two recordings on the record “are beautiful pieces and I hope you like them.”

Cave recorded the single with Ellis in London last November. The A-side, “Letter To Cynthia,” is the sound of Cave reading his message to Cynthia over music by Ellis. The B-side is called “Song For Cynthia” and is performed and written by both Cave and Ellis. The song does not appear to be online anywhere, so for now if you want to hear it, you have to buy the record for £20 at Cave’s online shop, Cave Things, where he’s also selling erotic wallpaper despite widespread customer disinterest.

A preview of “Letter To Cynthia” is available on the Cave Things Instagram. Listen below.

Cave has also been working on a film with performances from Carnage and his previous Bad Seeds album Ghosteen. It will be directed by Andrew Dominik, who made the Cave documentary One More Time With Feeling.

UPDATE: Here’s the full song.

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