Nick Cave has said that boycotting songs because of the actions of the artist “is not a very good way to go about things”.
The Australian singer-songwriter told the Hay festival: “Making art – especially making music – it prevents you from becoming the worst aspects of your character, and that’s why I very much think we need to be very, very careful about the music we don’t think people should listen to any more because of what the artist who has made that music may have been like,” the Australian singer-songwriter said.
Cave said that it was not necessary, or even possible, to separate songs from the musicians who created them. “We need to understand that the songs themselves are the best of them” and we should not “eradicate the best of these people in order to punish the worst of them”.
The rock star does not agree with the way he was recently depicted in the New Statesman as a conservative, following news he would attend the coronation of King Charles. However, he said: “I have these days what I would call a conservative temperament” and is “conservative with a small c”.
“I believe that we need to be cautious about the idea of progress. I just see things moving very rapidly and a whole lot of different things worry me a lot, like AI,” he said. This caution is informed by his experience of grief and loss, he believes, following the deaths of two of his sons. “I think that I have an understanding of loss and what it is to lose something and how difficult it is to get that back.”
While the musician is “not against progress” and thinks “there are huge problems in the world that we really need to deal with” he is critical of “the idea that everything is systemically fucked”. The idea that humans beings are corrupt he finds “not only wrong but disturbing and it’s becoming a problem”.
When asked if he equated that mindset with society’s lack of spiritual anchor, he agreed. “I think we got rid of religion, essentially, which may or may not be a good thing, but there’s a vacuum that we created that we don’t really know what to do with”.
Cave would not call himself a Christian but admitted that he does “act like one”. He has met both the current archbishop, Justin Welby, and the former, Rowan Williams. He said that Williams was more interested in talking about poetry than religion, while Welby informed him that he does believe in hell, but doesn’t know who’s going to go there. “What a chilly individual,” Cave remarked.
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