Inspiring Individuals: Nick Cave

In the past year, many of my musical heroes such as David Bowie, Lemmy and Scott Weiland have died. I realized that even heroes are human.

With this in mind, I want to write about the living creatives that have inspired me the most. By telling you of these individuals, I hope that they might inspire you too. I'm starting with no other than Nick Cave.

Nick Cave is a man with an uncompromising dedication to his art.

He has created worlds of his own ever since he started making music. Worlds dark and dramatic where the gutter merges with the pristine. Music where rackety rock meets soulful serenades. I love this duality. Whatever it is, it has his mark. Few musicians have such a broad body of work that hold such a high standard.

It's hard to mention Nick Cave without touching on his potent persona. Through the thematics of his work, Cave has become synonymous with his brooding and lustful imagery.

Nick is an enigma. Even when he's the subject of a documentary – the brilliant 20,000 Days on Earth – directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard infuses the movie with fictional elements, managing to both deconstruct and strengthen his persona. It raises the question: Do we really want to know the man behind the music? Cave's image ties in so well with the mystical nature of his music, and it's one of the many things that continues to intrigue me about him.

In 2015, Cave suffered a terrible loss as one of his sons, fifteen-year-old Arthur, died in an accident. After that, I and other fans were unsure if he'd return to making music. For a person who has told so many grim tales, it's heartbreaking that he has experienced such a tragedy. How do you, as a parent, recover from something like that?

That's why I was just as surprised as excited when it was announced that he and the Bad Seeds will release a new album – Skeleton Tree – on September 9.

Anyone can surrender to the passivity of grief, but it takes a certain kind of character to not only create something out of that grief, but to also share it with the world.

I expect Skeleton Tree and the movie One More Time With Feeling (screened worldwide a day before the album comes out) to be nothing short of heartbreaking and, hell, potentially devastating.

If there's something I've learned from Nick Cave, it's to "keep on pushing," to quote his song "Push the Sky Away" (from the eponymous album). He has overcome heartbreak, heroin addiction, and – I can only hope – the loss of a child. One thing's for sure: There is catharsis in creation.

In the final moments of 20,000 Days on Earth, Nick says the following:

All of our days are numbered. We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all. Because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it.

Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand, and pray that will not be extinguished by all the storm that howl about it.

If you can hold onto that flame, great things can be constructed around it that are massive and powerful and world-changing. All held up by the tiniest of ideas.
— Nick Cave

Let me end this post with one of the best live performances ever captured – a climactic version of "Jubilee Street" from the Sydney Opera House. Enjoy.