In what might be one of the most unexpected friendships in popular music, Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave and pop icon Kylie Minogue have grown inseparable at times.
Both Australian natives, their paths would cross for the first time in the mid 1990s when Kylie’s then boyfriend Michael Hutchence was lured in by Cave who had expressed his desire to sing with Kylie. “Michael said to me: ‘My friend Nick wants to do a song with you,’” she once recalled in an interview with the Guardian. “I didn’t know who Nick Cave was. And I just said: ‘Oh, that’s nice,’” she said with a wry smile on her face.
Cave, at the time, had his song ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ primed and ready for Kylie. He knew, at the time of the song’s conception, that Kylie was the perfect partner to deliver the emotion of the song. Recalling a time when he created the song, Cave once said: “‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ was written very much with Kylie in mind. I’d wanted to write a song for Kylie for many years,” he is quoted as saying in Molly Meldrum presents 50 Years of Rock in Australia. “I had a quiet obsession with her for about six years. I wrote several songs for her, none of which I felt was appropriate to give her. It was only when I wrote this song, which is a dialogue between a killer and his victim, that I thought finally I’d written the right song for Kylie to sing.”
What ensued was Cave sending the tape to Kylie, and the singer becoming more and more interested in Cave’s artistry. “The first time I met Nick was at the recording studio in Melbourne,” she said in the same interview with the Guardian. “I speed-read a biography to understand him a little bit. And there was some interesting stuff in there,” she also confessed.
After some back and forth, Kylie and Cave eventually sat down in the studio to record their version of ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’—a song that now goes down as one of the Bad Seeds’ most commercially successful. While the collaboration came out of left field, the track was chosen to be the fifth song and lead single from the band’s ninth studio album, Murder Ballads back in 1996.
While the song never appeared in one of Kylie’s studio albums, it was later included on three of her greatest hits compilations and she wildly credits Cave for majorly influencing her career and changing the public perception of her and her music. “Everything I did with him was just so tender and epic and close,” Kylie admitted. “He’s so amazing and loving, and it’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever done.”
“He’s definitely infiltrated my life in beautiful and profound ways.”
While their friendship remained close since the moment they met over ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, Cave did once feel compelled to apologise to his collaborator amid the release of his acclaimed novel The Death of Bunny Munro. The novel’s main character, Bunny Munro, a middle-aged lothario whose constant womanising and alcohol abuse causes major issues, becomes obsessed with both Kylie Minogue and, randomly, Avril Lavigne.
“I would like to publicly apologise to both of them, especially Avril Lavigne,” he once said. “Because the writing about her is darker and more invasive I guess.
“I know Kylie and at least, I hope, she will take it in the spirit it was written. At the time that the book was set, which was about eight years ago, or seven years ago, Kylie Minogue and her hot pants were all the tabloids wrote about in this country,” he added.
Their relationship, of course, remained as close as ever. The song that has tied them together for decades again wowed thousands of enchanted fans when they teamed up live last year. Cave, headlining All Points East Festival in London, welcomed his partner in crime on to the stage in celebration of her 50th birthday.
Cave and Kylie have kept this song so close to their hearts, bringing our rare and sometimes secretive performances for lucky fans throughout their careers. Take, for instance, their surprise performance at Koko in 2014 as part of the filming for Cave’s film 20,000 Days on Earth.
“During the making of our film 20,000 Days on Earth, we asked Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to play an intimate club show at Koko in London, a beautiful old Victorian music hall. We wanted to do something special for the fans, so while we were filming the scenes with Nick and Kylie in Brighton he asked her if she’d like to come and sing their infamous duet. Kylie jumped at the chance, and a few weeks later walked out on stage and performed ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ live with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for the first time in 15 years. This moment was such a highlight for everyone who was there that we wanted to share it with everyone.”—Filmmakers Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
From letter correspondence to personal research, from the recording studio to the stage, Cave and Kylie have been united through almost all of their artistic out forms in some way or another.
A song, written out of a will, desire and obsession, formed a friendship which knows no bounds. In the words of Cave himself, “Kylie Minogue is the greatest thing that has happened to Australian music,” but I’m certain she’ll disagree.