favourite writers: Nick Cave


‘This desire to possess her is a wound, naggin at me like a shrew.’

Because I love to write, I tend to fall in love with writers. With their craft more than them as people. Sorry, crazy fans, but you don’t love them, you love their work. You don’t know them really. 

I’ve always thought of Nick as a writer who was able to find the perfect metaphor, a phrase that connects at a gut level. Of course, that line (This desire to possess her) in ‘From Her to Eternity’, creates a feeling of want that suddenly becomes wordy and pendantic, complicated (and finally ominous):

‘But, Ah know, that to possess her

Is, therefore, not to desire her.’

And you’re pushed back out of the story for a moment, by a studied pose typical of Nick’s writing and persona. I always loved this flexibility in his words and music, though sometimes it pushes over from the sublime to the ridiculous. One song romantic (‘Love letter, love letter. Go get her, go get her’), another savage and oddly comic (‘And with an ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick. I split his skull in half’), and no warning when the switch will happen.

His first novel was a perfect example, ambitious and epic but also shambling alarmingly towards disaster at every turn, its awesomeness getting constantly lost in a self-absorbed verbal wank-fest before soaring again. Sorry, just no other way to describe it, and I’m sure he’d agree.

His music maybe reminds me of Melbourne itself, half the time the pose is ironic and half the time it’s deadly serious.


‘There’s a man who spoke wonders though I never met him / He said “He who seek finds, and who knocks will be let in” / I think of you in motion and just how close you are getting / And how every little thing anticipates you / Down through my veins my heartstrings call / Are you the one that I’ve been waiting for?’


Here’s Nick as ‘Freak Storm’ in Johnny Suede swindling Brad Pitt (at his most convincingly dumb-ass) and sharing a song that, let’s face it, only sounds cool because Nick is singing it.



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