Morrissey has come under repeated attack for his political beliefs in recent years. In his most recent interview, conducted by his nephew on his website, Morrissey said that Nigel Farage would make a good Prime Minister and that the leader of the far-right For Britain party, Anne-Marie Waters, is the only politician capable of uniting left-wing and right-wing people in the UK.
While stating that he didn’t agree with Morrissey’s views, Cave emphasised that he felt it would be “dangerous” if Morrissey wasn’t allowed to voice his opinions.
He also urged fans of The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo output to not discard his music just because they hate his personal beliefs.
In a lengthy response to a fan’s question on his website The Red Hand Flies, Cave wrote: “Views and behaviour are separate issues – Morrissey’s political opinion becomes irrelevant. Whatever inanities he may postulate, we cannot overlook the fact that he has written a vast and extraordinary catalogue, which has enhanced the lives of his many fans beyond recognition. This is no small thing. He has created original and distinctive works of unparalleled beauty, that will long outlast his offending political alliances.”
Cave said he felt moved to speak out about Morrissey after he was asked about him by a fan a show in Nottingham during his current speaking tour.
“Open debate and conversation are the very structure of civilisation, and in Nottingham it was a privilege to be challenged by this very thoughtful young man,” Cave wrote.
He continued: “Even though I was unsatisfied by my own response, I still believe that, despite how upsetting Morrissey’s views may be to the marginalised and dispossessed members of society, or anyone else for that matter, he still should have the freedom to express his views, just as others should have the freedom to challenge them – even if just to know in what guise their enemy may appear.
“The charge that defending a person’s right to their opinions somehow aligns one with their views makes no sense at all and strikes at the heart of the problem itself – that of conflating the concept of free speech with bigotry. This is very dangerous territory indeed.”
On the importance of separating art from the artist, Cave added: “As a songwriter and someone who believes songs possess extraordinary healing power, I am saddened by the thought that songs by arguably the greatest lyricist of his generation – songs like ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ and ‘Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me’ – are consigned to the moral dustbin by those who feel they have been tainted by his current political posturing. I respect and understand why people respond in this way, but can’t help but feel it is of significant personal loss to them.”
Cave concluded his response by writing: “Perhaps it is better to simply let Morrissey have his views, challenge them when and wherever possible, but allow his music to live on, bearing in mind we are all conflicted individuals – messy, flawed and prone to lunacies. We should thank God that there are some among us that create works of beauty beyond anything most of us can barely imagine, even as some of those same people fall prey to regressive and dangerous belief systems.”
Billy Bragg recently spoke out against Morrissey, telling The Big Issue: “I think he wants to betray everything he ever said in The Smiths.” Interpol singer Paul Banks, whose band play a joint US tour with Morrissey in September, said they viewed the tour as a good one to play and that “I don’t go too deep into the other stuff.”
Cave concludes his ‘Conversations With Nick Cave’ tour with two hometown shows at Brighton Dome tonight and tomorrow (June 28-29).