NICK CAVE

Nick Cave’s 30 best songs.

As chosen by his Bad Seeds and Grinderman bandmates, famous fans including Guy Garvey, Richard Hawley and Bobby Gillespie, and Cave himself…

Published in Uncut, Feb 2015 – Link

 

30 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
NATURE BOY / Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus (September 2004)
Chosen by: ROBERT FORSTER (The Go-Betweens)

the band and its chief songwriter are also at their best when making music with a softer touch.

 

29 The Birthday Party
JENNIFER’S VEIL / EP, “Mutiny!” (November 1983)
Chosen by: BOBBY GILLESPIE (Primal Scream)

It’s a weird little song

 

28 Grinderman
HEATHEN CHILD / Grinderman 2 (September 2010)
Chosen by: NICK CAVE

I feel I’m getting to some simpler, truer place with a song like that

 

27 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
SAINT HUCK / From Her To Eternity (June 1984)
Chosen by: HUGO RACE, ex-Bad Seeds

He had to make a break with the past, as well as do something that didn’t reflect The Birthday Party but had the same energy

 

26 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
HENRY LEE / Murder Ballads (February 1996)
Chosen by: ALISON MOSSHART (The Kills/Dead Weather)

I’ve admired Nick for years. But when I did finally get to meet him, it was pretty weird…and for two years I thought Nick Cave was a horrible person

 

25 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
TOWER OF SONG / (leonard Cohen tribute album) I’m Your Fan (1991)
Chosen by: THOMAS WYDLER (The Bad Seeds)

The song where we improvised more than ever was the old Leonard Cohen one, ‘Tower Of Song’.

 

24 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I’M GONNA KILL THAT WOMAN / Kicking Against The Pricks (August 1986)
Chosen by: MICK HARVEY (ex-Bad Seeds)

Obviously, none of us could play the blues properly or had pretensions to do

 

23 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
RED RIGHT HAND / Let Love In (April 1994)
Chosen by: HOWE GELB (Giant Sand)

That shit is classic, right up there with the best jazz standards

 

22 The Birthday Party
NICK THE STRIPPER / Prayers On Fire (April 1981)
Chosen by: JG THIRLWELL (Foetus)

They played jaw-dropping shows in pretty small places, like the Moonlight Club in West Hampstead. ‘Nick The Stripper’ was one of the classics of those shows

 

21 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
DIG LAZARUS DIG!!! / Dig Lazarus Dig!!! (March 2008)
Chosen by: KID CONGO POWERS (ex-Bad Seeds)

That song made me fall in love with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds all over again. Plus it has a good beat and I like to dance

 

20 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
THE CARNY / Your Funeral… My Trial (June 1984)
Chosen by: FLOOD (producer)

I was like, ‘Whoah, what is this?’ It then ended up as ‘The Carny’

 

19 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
BROMPTON ORATORY / The Boatman’s Call (March 1997)
Chosen by: CHRIS BAILEY (The Saints)

I relate to this because much as I wish I could be a man of faith, I’m a man of doubt

 

18 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
THE HAMMER SONG / The Good Son (April 1990)
Chosen by: TOM DiCILLO (director)

He walks that line between abandon and absolute control

 

17 Grinderman
NO PUSSY BLUES / Grinderman (March 2007)
Chosen by: NICK CAVE

At some point in my career, I’ve managed to flip this little switch in my head which says ‘It doesn’t fucking matter’

 

16 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
THE SINGER / Kicking Against The Pricks (August 1985)
Chosen by: RICHARD HAWLEY

I think this was an album where he set his stall out, saying: I’m going to be as good as this. It was one of the bravest moves of his recording life…

 

15 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
CITY OF REFUGE / Tender Pray (September 1988)
Chosen by: MARK ARM (Mudhoney)

It’s unpretentious, with a lot of truth to it. It’s not like the fucking Decemberists

 

14 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
LOVE LETTER / No More Shall We Part (April 2001)
Chosen by: JONATHAN LETHEM (author)

I’m not sure what a technical expert would make of his singing – but his voice just breaks time open

 

13 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
STRANGER THAN KINDNESS / Your Funeral… My Trial (November 1986)
Chosen by: NICK CAVE

One of my favourite Bad Seeds songs is ‘Stranger Than Kindness’, which has a kind of unearthly beauty about it, and I think that’s largely because I had nothing to do with writing it

 

12 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
STAGGER LEE / Murder Ballads (February 1996)
Chosen by: JOHN HILLCOAT (director, The Proposition/The Road)

He makes the story his own by the perverse humour, making it really filthy and dark – like hardcore hip-hop, Nick Cave-style

 

11 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
GET READY FOR LOVE / Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus (September 2004)
Chosen by: JIM SCLAVUNOS (Bad Seeds/Grinderman)

From my perspective, ‘Get Ready For Love’ was a clarion call announcing a new chapter in the ongoing evolution of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

 

10 The Birthday Party
JUNKYARD / Junkyard (May 1982)
Chosen by: LYDIA LUNCH

Nick Cave and I were like two alien sub-species shadow-boxing with our diametric opposites

 

9 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
DO YOU LOVE ME? / Let Love In (April 1994)
Chosen by: ED KUEPPER (The Bad Seeds/The Saints)

Back in the early to mid-’90s I got asked to perform ‘Do You Love Me?’ at an Aussie award ceremony. The organisers told me they needed someone of good standing to perform it as it was being awarded Australian Song Of The Year. In reality, it’s more likely they couldn’t afford Nick

 

8 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
TUPELO / The Firstborn Is Dead (June 1985)
Chosen by: ALAN VEGA (Suicide)

I love that song, because of John Lee Hooker’s original ‘Tupelo’ – there has to be a connection, I know Nick listens to the stuff

 

7 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
WE CALL UPON THE AUTHOR / Dig Lazarus Dig!!! (March 2008)
Chosen by: MICK HARVEY (ex-Bad Seeds)

a song which literally purports to be asking The Big Question, or at least confronting the Great Architect head on

6 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
STRAIGHT TO YOU / Henry’s Dream (April 1992)
Chosen by: MARC RILEY (6 Music DJ and former Fall member)

I suppose Nick proves you can have your cake and eat it. I also think he’s currently the world’s best frontman…

 

5 The Birthday Party
RELEASE THE BATS / single, August 1981
Chosen by: NICK LAUNAY (Birthday Party/Bad Seeds producer)

It was done in a recording studio where, during the day, I was a studio assistant working with Phil Collins. It was very odd, it felt like at night I opened the door and all the bats flew in, it all got very dark and angry

 

4 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
THE SHIP SONG / The Good Son (April 1990)
Chosen by: NICK CAVE

I’ve always been impressed by people who can write songs that catch people’s hearts – I don’t know if I ever got anywhere near that

 

3 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
FROM HER TO ETERNITY / From Her To Eternity (June 1984)
Chosen by: WARREN ELLIS (Bad Seeds/Grinderman)

On every level, the song is a masterpiece. Musically, lyrically and sonically it’s extraordinary, a song you couldn’t imagine anybody else bettering or even attempting to do.

 

2 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
INTO MY ARMS / The Boatman’s Call (March 1997)
Chosen by: GUY GARVEY (Elbow)

“The opening line just cracks me up every time: ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God, but darling I know you do.’ It’s pure Elvis Presley theology

 

1 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
THE MERCY SEAT / Tender Prey (September 1988)
Chosen by: NICK CAVE

it has the capacity to lend itself to seemingly infinite variations, and it can adapt to whatever we happen to be into at the time – a folk song, or a headbanger number

 

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