"Praise Him till you've forgotten what you're praising Him for/Then praise Him a little more." — from "Get Ready for Love"
What are Christians to make of Nick Cave? Rarely do artists create such a perplexing juxtaposition of the secular and profane with the sacred and sincere.
The spiritual dichotomy traces as far back as his childhood. Cave revealed in a recent interview that he was something of a wild child who abused alcohol at an early age, but he also attended Sunday school and served as a choirboy. Years later, he helped pioneer the goth and punk rock scene in the late '70s with his band The Birthday Party. When they disbanded in 1983, he continued on with The Bad Seeds (and as a solo artist), creating a dark and sometimes morbid blend of alternative rock, blues, folk, and gospel. Vulgarity and violent imagery are no strangers to Cave's songwriting.
Yet one surprising constant in Cave's genre-bending work is his use of biblical imagery and an acknowledgment of God's presence. It used to be more of an Old Testament relationship for Cave, who once wrote, "I don't believe in an interventionist God," in his song "Into My Arms" (1997's The Boatman's Call). In recent years, however, the veteran artist seems more drawn to the merciful God of the New Testament, stating that "the story of Christ is amazing" and even writing an introduction to The Gospel of Mark for a special edition Bible released in the U.K.
The disparity continues on 2004's double album, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, hailed by many mainstream critics as one of the year's best. Cave's poetic lyricism is vivid and haunting like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, and his music combines the tripping underground '70s rock of Iggy Pop and David Bowie with modern ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more