Nick Cave has shared a new single, titled “Grief,” that was inspired by a question written by a fan in 2018. The fan, named Cynthia, asked about experiencing loss and grief, where she shared that she had experienced a number of losses over the past few years, the question written on Cave’s Red Hand Files.
“I have experienced the death of my father my sister, and my first love in the past few years and I feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams,” Cynthia had written. “Are you and Susie feeling that your son Arthur is with you and communicating in some way?”
Cave had lost his son, Arthur, in 2015, the 15-year-old falling from a cliff at Ovingdean, near Brighton in the United Kingdom. Following his son’s death, Cave’s works have been inspired by Arthur and the lingering effects of his death.
“This is a very beautiful question and I am grateful that you have asked it,” Cave responded to Cynthia. “It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.”
The song, which is available as a 7” and contains the songs “Letter to Cynthia” and “Song for Cynthia,” features hallow strings and Cave’s deep voice as he narrates his written response. The shivering track carries deep tones that carry the weight of grief, Cave also reflecting on those he has lost.
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“I feel the pressure of my son, all around, but he may not be there,” Cave continued in his letter to Cynthia. “I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.”
Cave recently collaborated with Warren Ellis for the surprise album, Carnage. He released the album Ghosteen in 2019, alongside his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The album had also acted as a tribute to Arthur, and contained the single “Euthanasia.”
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat