Stepping back into the Far Out Vault, we’re revisiting one of the dreamiest rock and roll romances of all time; Nick Cave and PJ Harvey.
Cave and Harvey, who often collaborated artistically during their rise to fame, had a brief and profoundly intense relationship during the mid-1990s before it ended in particularly heartwrenching circumstances for the Bad Seeds frontman.
Cave’s relationship with Harvey coincided with a time in life when his drug use was spiralling out of control, a time when his music took a dark and sombre turn. “The truth of the matter is that I didn’t give up on PJ Harvey, PJ Harvey gave up on me,” he once said of the relationship. “There I am, sitting on the floor of my flat in Notting Hill, sun streaming through the window, feeling good, with a talented and beautiful young singer for a girlfriend, when the phone rings. I pick up the phone and it’s Polly.
“Deep down I suspected that drugs might have been a problem between us, but there were other things too,” Cave added in reference to this time in his life. “I still had a certain amount of work to do on my understanding of the concept of monogamy, and Polly had her own issues, I suspect, but I think at the end of the day it came down to the fact that we were both fiercely creative people, each too self-absorbed to ever be able to inhabit the same space in any truly meaningful way. We were like two lost matching suitcases, on a carousel going nowhere.”
The break-up—and heavy drug use—would go on to act as a significant inspiration to the Bad Seeds’ tenth studio album The Boatman’s Call, a deeply moody, slow and dark record.
In the years that followed their break-up, a love letter sent by Cave to Harvey circulated online and offered a glimpse into his deep admiration for the singer. The letter reads: “Polly Jean, I love you. I love the texture of your skin, the taste of your saliva, the softness of your ears. I love every inch and every part of your entire body.
“From your toes and the beautifully curved arches of your feet, to the exceptional shade and warmth of your dark hair. I need you in my life, I hope you need me too.”