Nick Cave is one of our favourite artists. Not just because his music straddles the line between bleak and beautiful so effortlessly, nor because of his recent foray into the Agony Uncle sector following messages from his fans on the Red Hand Files. No, we love Nick Cave because he is 100% authentic. No better is that shown than with his 1996 letter to MTV.
In ’96 Cave had just released one of his most precious albums to date. The ninth in his collection Murder Ballads, with the rest of The Bad Seeds, saw Nick finally start to receive the worldwide recognition he deserved. Much of which was down to Kylie Minogue and Cave’s duet on the LP ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’. So much so that he found himself on the shortlist for an MTV award, alongside the likes of George Michael. Something Cave said made him feel “uncomfortable”, least of all because MTV had pretty much ignored him until this point.
So as Cave himself puts it in the footage below, at an event called ‘Letters Live’ in 2013, he decided to write a letter to MTV, “on one very stoned evening” and found the door shut on him for good by the bosses of the television channel and was “flung back into obscurity”. It’s fair to say he did a damn fine job of it too.
The letter begins as cordially as one would expect from such an eloquent writer as Nick Cave. He thanks MTV for their nomination and the continued airtime for both his duet with Kylie Minogue and PJ Harvey. That’s where the positivity ends and Cave’s flourish with the pen begins to turn itself into a deadly sword.
He continues to ask that this nomination and all further nominations be withdrawn. He calls the award ceremonies a competition that he is not interested in taking part in. He continues with reference to his muse, saying it is “not a horse and I am in no horse race and if indeed she was I would not harness her to this tumbrel – this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes”.
While we may be able to note down all the beauty of this letter in word form, we think it’s probably best you hear it from the man himself.
Watch below as Nick Cave reads his 1996 rejection letter to MTV.