When Kylie Minogue read Nick Cave’s rejection letter to MTV: “My muse is not a horse”
With cancelled summer music festivals, postponed tour dates and delayed album releases, the Far Out Magazine ‘From The Vault’ section has delivered a soothing sense of nostalgia during these difficult times. Looking back at iconic moments from the past, we’re finding new ways to land our musical fix.
We’re dipping our toes back into the archives today to remember a time when Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave recruited his good friend, a certain pop icon going by the name of Kylie Minogue, to address his rejection letter to MTV.
Back in 1996, Cave wrote his now infamous letter to the music television channel, requesting that they withdraw his nomination from the ‘Video Music Awards’.
Cave, who was up for ‘Best Male Artist’, had recently collaborated with Kylie Minogue for their duet ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ — a track which would then appear on the band’s ninth studio album Murder Ballads.
It was that attention drawn from the duet with Minogue that prompted recognition from MTV and, at the time, Cave was not interested. Addressing a letter to “all those at MTV” to eloquently reject the nomination. “I feel that it’s necessary for me to request that my nomination for best male artist be withdrawn and furthermore any awards or nominations for such awards that may arise in later years be presented to those who feel more comfortable with the competitive nature of these award ceremonies,” Cave wrote.
Adding: “I have always been of the opinion that my music is unique and individual and exists beyond the realms inhabited by those who would reduce things to mere measuring. I am in competition with no-one.”
The letter reads:
“21 Oct 96 “To all those at MTV,
“I would like to start by thanking you all for the support you have given me over recent years and I am both grateful and flattered by the nominations that I have received for Best Male Artist. The air play given to both the Kylie Minogue and P. J. Harvey duets from my latest album Murder Ballads has not gone unnoticed and has been greatly appreciated. So again my sincere thanks.
“Having said that, I feel that it’s necessary for me to request that my nomination for best male artist be withdrawn and furthermore any awards or nominations for such awards that may arise in later years be presented to those who feel more comfortable with the competitive nature of these award ceremonies. I myself, do not. I have always been of the opinion that my music is unique and individual and exists beyond the realms inhabited by those who would reduce things to mere measuring. I am in competition with no-one.
“My relationship with my muse is a delicate one at the best of times and I feel that it is my duty to protect her from influences that may offend her fragile nature.
“She comes to me with the gift of song and in return I treat her with the respect I feel she deserves — in this case this means not subjecting her to the indignities of judgement and 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!
“So once again, to the people at MTV, I appreciate the zeal and energy that was put behind my last record, I truly do and say thank you and again I say thank you but no…no thank you.
“Yours sincerely, “Nick Cave.”
Years later, in a project entitled ‘Letters Live’ and fronted by Shaun Usher, Cave’s letter was revisited as part of a series of live events celebrating the power of literary correspondence.
“The idea of Letters Live is simple: we ask talented, inspiring and high-profile artists from various disciplines to read letters out loud to our audiences,” the project explained. Letters Live celebrates letter writing and the art of correspondence first and foremost.”