Friday, 26 August 2016
SINGER Nick Cave, 59, has recently spoken movingly about the loss of his 15-year-old son, Arthur, who fell to his death in 2015 while high on the drug LSD.
It was a devastating blow for the lead singer and founder of the Bad Seeds – best known in the UK, perhaps, for Where The Wild Roses Grow – his 1996 duet with Kylie Minogue.
And tragically drug addiction has been no stranger to Cave. A gifted songwriter whose lyrics have at times tellingly revealed his personal struggle with faith, and his addictions, Cave now openly admits: "I was a junkie. I would wake up and need to score, and the first thing I would do is go to church."
Drug-free for a while now, he frankly admits that he would "sit through the entire service, listening to the priest and then immediately hit up local dealers to score drugs.
"I really felt on some level that I had a kind of workable balance in my life," he says. "I mean, it was mad." During his Australian childhood Cave would attend his local Anglican church, sometimes twice a week.
A ‘seed’ was being planted – memories and impressions that would influence his prodigious creative output for many years to come. His preoccupation with Old Testament (the earlier half of the Bible) ideas of good versus evil culminated in what has been called his signature song, The Mercy Seat (1988).
Even if returning to church as an adult did not immediately quell his addictions, Cave believes that "any true love song is a song for God. Song is a form of prayer."
Cave has ascribed the mellowing of his music to a shift in focus from the Old to the New Testament of the Bible. He says: "I think as an artist it's a necessary part of what I do, that there is some divine element going on within my songs."
Understandably, the death of his son, Arthur, has irrevocably changed him: "You change from a known person to an unknown person. So that when you look yourself in the mirror, do you recognise the person that you were?"
Perhaps only those who have had the misfortune to suffer the loss of a child can truly identify with this acute wound. The love of a father for his son is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith. We know to some degree the enormity of the Father's sacrifice when his Son, Jesus, died on the cross.
"With my voice I am calling you," sings Cave in Jesus Alone, the opening track on the band’s acclaimed 2016 album Skeleton Tree. Although mostly written before Arthur’s death, he died during the recording and the album seems poignantly filled with grief.
In the lyrics, Cave never seems to get an answer to his cry, but if we have a relationship with Jesus, we are never truly alone. He is at our side through good times and bad. No matter the load, he will help us shoulder the pain. The good news is that when we call out to him, he hears us, hurts with us and we are never alone again.
Quote Christian Free Press Limited on reprint.