Nick Cave explains why he was “disgusted” by Bad Seeds album ‘The Boatman’s Call’
Nick Cave has been opening up about the deep and personal feelings he has, at one period or another, been harbouring around certain songs and albums he has created with the Bad Seeds.
Talking more specifically about the band’s 1997 album The Boatman’s Call, Cave explained that he initially felt “disgusted” by its creation but, as years have gone by, he has opened up to the record that holds classic tracks such as ‘Into My Arms’, ‘Idiot Prayer’ and more.
“After The Boatman’s Call came out I experienced a kind of embarrassment,” Cave wrote as part of his latest edition of Red Hand Files. “I felt I had exposed too much. These hyper-personal songs suddenly seemed indulgent, self-serving amplifications of what was essentially an ordinary, commonplace ordeal. All the high drama, the tragedy and the hand wringing ‘disgusted’ me, and I said so in press interviews.”
The frontman continued: “In time, however, I learned that the disgust was essentially the fear and shame experienced by someone who was swimming the uncertain waters between two boats — songs that were fictional and songs of an autobiographical or confessional nature. A radical change was occurring in my songwriting, despite myself, and such changes can leave one feeling extremely vulnerable, defensive and reactive.
“Of course, I no longer see ‘The Boatman’s Call’ in that way, and understand that the record was a necessary leap into a type of songwriting that would ultimately become exclusively autobiographical — ‘Skeleton Tree’ and ‘Ghosteen’, for example — but, conversely, less about myself and more about our collective ‘selves’. When I sang the ‘The Boatman’s Call’ songs for the Idiot Prayer film, they no longer felt like cries emanating from the small, yet cataclysmic, devastations of life.”
He concluded: “They became more about a spiritual liberation from the self, about something broader and more comprehensive — not transcendent exactly — but expansive, in that they collected us all up in the commonality of the experience they attempt to describe. At least, I hoped so.”