It’s a question all musicians are asked at some point in their career and, for Nick Cave, it’s one that he has declined to answer for quite some time.
For Cave, the idea of revealing the pieces of music that mean the most to him was too much of a gift to give away, it was too personal. However, as the Bad Seeds frontman attempts to grow his already unbreakable relationship with his fans, he has answered the question: ‘What would be a list of 10 of your most favourite pieces of music, by artists other than yourself?’
Cave’s answer to the question was delivered as part of his ongoing series ‘The Red Right Hand Files’, a website that allows him to take and answer questions from his supporters. Having tackled his relationship with Warren Ellis, his Grinderman plans and his beliefs on the cultural boycott of Israel, Cave turned his attentions to the music that means the most to him.
“In my extended poem, ‘The Sick Bag Song’, I wrote about Leonard Cohen and the effect that he had on me as a young boy when I first heard him sing,” Cave answered.
“Leonard Cohen will sing, and the boy will suddenly breathe as if for the first time, and fall inside the laughing man’s voice and hide.
“The boy will grow older, and over time there will be other songs – not many – ten or maybe twenty in a lifespan, that stand apart from the rest of the music he will discover. He will realise that not only are these songs sacred, they are ‘hiding songs’ that deal exclusively in darkness, obfuscation, concealment and secrecy. He will realise that for him the purpose of these songs was to shut off the sun, to draw a long shadow down and protect him from the corrosive glare of the world.”
“Occasionally people have asked me what those ‘hiding songs’ were. I have never revealed them in their entirety,” Cave continued. “Perhaps, I felt a strange ownership over them and that to release them to the world may constitute a form of betrayal,” he added.
“My ‘hiding songs’ serve as a form of refuge for me and have done so for years. They are songs that I can pull over myself, like a child might pull the bed covers over their head, when the blaze of the world becomes too intense. I can literally hide inside them. They are the essential pillars that hold up the structure of my artistic world. There are hundreds of other favourite songs, of course, and one day maybe I can do a list of some of those, but not today. Today, I give you the ‘hiding songs’.”
Nick Cave’s 10 Hiding Songs:
- Leonard Cohen – ‘Avalanche’
- Karen Dalton – ‘Katie Cruel’
- Neil Young – ‘On the Beach’
- John Lee Hooker – ‘Tupelo’
- Van Morrison – ‘T.B. Sheets’
- Bob Dylan – ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’
- Nina Simone – ‘Plain Gold Ring’
- Big Star – ‘Holocaust’
- Brian Eno – ‘Becalmed’
- Bill Callahan – ‘One Fine Morning’
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