Nick Cave shares the detailed process of how he writes lyrics

He's also revealed that he lost his "beloved" notebook of 'Ghosteen' lyrics last year

Nick Cave has revealed the detailed process behind how he writes lyrics and discussed the “very distressing” incident of losing his “beloved” notebook of lyrics for 2019 album ‘Ghosteen’.

Speaking to Interview Magazine about his recently launched online store Cave Things, which features handwritten lyric sheets, prints that Cave himself has designed and more, Cave laid out in great detail the way in which he writes lyrics from start to finish.

“My process of lyric writing is as follows,” he said. “For months, I write down ideas in a notebook with a Bic medium ballpoint pen in black. At some point, the songs begin to reveal themselves, to take some kind of form, which is when I type the new lyrics into my laptop.


“Here, I begin the long process of working on the words, adding verses, taking them away, and refining the language, until the song arrives at its destination.

Nick Cave
Nick Cave CREDIT: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

He continued: “At this stage, I take one of the yellowing back pages I have cut from old second-hand books, and, on my Olympia typewriter, type out the lyrics. I then glue it into my bespoke notebook, number it, date-stamp it, and sticker it. The song is then ‘officially’ completed.

Cave went on to reveal that, in 2019, he lost his “beloved ‘Ghosteen’ notebook with all the scribblings and typed lyrics in it,” explaining: “I have no idea what happened to it. It was very distressing for me at the time.

“A few months ago, in lockdown, I sat and retyped all the lyrics, date-stamped, stickered, and numbered them, in an attempt to reclaim them. This process reconnected me to the words that I had lost.”


Earlier this month, Nick Cave indicated that he was about to start work on his next album following the announcement that his 2021 tour is cancelled.

The release of 2019’s ‘Ghosteen’ was followed last month by a live album and film called ‘Idiot Prayer’, filmed and streamed from London’s Alexandra Palace earlier this summer.

Reviewing the livestreamed gig, NME wrote: “Without crowds, chatter and the mess of thousands of human bodies all bumping up against each other, it’s possible to focus purely on Cave’s devastating lyricism: religion, death and romance all getting their chance to shine in the golden and purple lights that softly illuminate the room.”