by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Whenever anyone mentions religious musicians, my first thought is always Nick Cave. The man's no model Christian; he was in and out of prison for petty crimes when he was young, was a heroin addict for many years, and writes a lot about death and murder. His faith, though, is something that always shines through in its own inimitable way (not unlike Leonard Cohen, actually).
Probably the most blatant instance of this is the song 'There is a Kingdom', off the album The Boatman's Call (the song doesn't appear to be on YouTube, sadly, but it's worth looking up). He's generally rooted in Biblical; he has a song and album called "The Good Son", about the brother of the Prodigal Son in Jesus's parable, while songs like "Tupelo", draw heavily on Old Testament imagery. Probably my favourite example is the brilliant "The Mercy Seat", in which a death row prisoner imagines his impending execution simply as a means of getting to Heaven, comparing the electric chair to God's throne.
Those are just a few examples off the top of my head; he's released a lot of albums in a 30-year career. He's also on record as despising the use of organised religion to score political points, as in the song 'God is in the House' [seen above]. In any case, I would describe him as both "hip" (in his own bizarre way) and religious (again, in his own way).
I haven't yet seen any references to the original and prolific dark angel - Nick Cave. When Johnny Cash covers you ("Mercy Seat"), it doesn't get much hipper than that.
Cave talked about his faith to a University of Vienna audience in 1999:
To write allowed me direct access to my imagination, to inspiration and ultimately to God. I found through the use of language, that I wrote god into existence. Language became the blanket that I threw over the invisible man, that gave him shape and form. Actualising of God through the medium of the love song remains my prime motivation as an artist. The love song is perhaps the truest and most distinctive human gift for recognising God and a gift that God himself needs. God gave us this gift in order that we speak and sing Him alive because God lives within communication. If the world was to suddenly fall silent God would deconstruct and die. Jesus Christ himself said, in one of His most beautiful quotes, "Where ever two or more are gathered together, I am in your midst." He said this because where ever two or more are gathered together there is language. I found that language became a poultice to the wounds incurred by the death of my father. Language became a salve to longing.
(Hat tip: Patrik Hagman)