Nick Cave has recently launched his own website – The Red Hand Files – and has answered thoughtful questions submitted by fans about, among other things, his attitude towards women displayed in his songwriting, and how (if at all) that has changed since cultural progressions like the #MeToo movement.
One of the thoughtful questions, submitted by a woman named Merritt, reads as follows:
“How have the topics of women, consent, and relationships in general changed in your works during the cultural sea changes (such as the one we are experiencing now)? I ask this not only because of current events, but also because throughout all the iterations of your work, you have addressed women with adoration, irreverence, worship, disdain, respect, horror, empathy and well, the list goes on. It’s a fascinating range in general, especially for someone who seems to clearly be a supporter of women, female artists, and a bit of the misandry. (And, as a woman, it’s refreshing to have all those representations from one artist.)”
Cave noted how much he appreciated the question, saying that sometimes people perceive a negative representation of women in his music and “believe that the way I represent women in my songs is reductive and objectifying and somehow does insult to the notion of womanhood.”
He went on to note how he has “very little understanding of women at all, they remain deep mysteries containing multitudes” and how he’s been fighting a “losing battle” trying to define his wife, Susie Beck, in his music.
“I have come to see that there is a wild and mercurial energy within her that my words will never contain, and that this bright energy is connected to her own singular and restless fascination with the world. It has little to do with me.”
He then went on to address the aforementioned “cultural sea changes” and expresses his opinion that they might be putting women “in danger of eroding those bright edges of personhood, and grinding them down into monotonous identity politics – where some women have traded in their inherent wildness and sense of awe, for a one-size-fits-all protestation against a uniform concept of maleness.”
He also said he’s not sure if his approach to songwriting will consciously change, but notes time as “a sort of corrective” and that “there are lyrics (he) wrote back then which (he) simply wouldn’t write now.” So, basically, when you know better you do better.
The Q&A also allowed Cave to speak about the tragic death of his son, how his wife influences his music and, interestingly, what he’d do if he was told the world was ending in 72 hours.
His answer to the latter? “I’d freak the fuck out.”
Read the full Q&A here.