‘Secret Life of the Love Song’: Sit back and listen to Nick Cave’s lecture on love songs
As nick cave continues to make himself known as an agony Uncle of sorts, having used his Red Hand files to answer questions and queries from his fans directly. But, in truth, Cave has been doing that for a long time. Today we sit back and listen to his 1999 lecture in Vienna, Secret Life of the Love Song.
The lecture was delivered as part of the 1999 poetry festival in Vienna and sees Cave in his absolute prime. Not only has Cave been a very astute and creative writer, bot in song and novel form in his past, but the singer’s father was a professor of literature – so it’s clearly in the blood.
In the talk, Cave opens up about the many-faceted feeling of love. He contemplates the darker side of love in an even darker world but also goes on to quote W.H. Auden and Federico Garcia Lorca, calling them “a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort.” He says the love song “lives on the lips of the child crying for its mother. It is the song of the lover in need of her loved one, the raving of the lunatic supplicant petitioning his God.”
He continues to theorise that songs should always have a pearl of intrigue and pain, whenever writing love songs, referencing songs written about his ex PJ Harvey in particular still hurting as he sings them. “All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain.”
He also muses on the value of what many people would deem as cheesy pop songs, as well as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ and the Old Testament, all having flecks of the perfect love song in Cave’s eyes.
While Cave admits he is “happy to be sad,” and seems intent to live in “divine discontent” he also argues that love songs, and music in general, relive him of this perceived misery with every listen. Listen back to Nick Cave’s 1999 lecture on love songs below.