Nick Cave explains his thoughts on changing old “problematic lyrics”

Can he perform his old lyrics in 2020?

Nick Cave has opened up on whether he feels the need to change his “problematic” lyrics when performing live in 2020.

The lead singer of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds answered a question posed to him on his Red Hand Files website, saying that he is “owning” the “flaws” behind the lyrics.

A fan asked: “Do you ever feel the need to change lyrics, when performing live, which may be problematic in 2020, for example ‘a f*g in a whalebone corset dragging his dick across my cheek’?


“Or are you happy to preserve the lyric as a product of its time, and respect the original content?”

Nick Cave
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are heading out on a North American tour. CREDIT: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

In a lengthy post, Cave replied: “These days, some of my songs are feeling a little nervous. They are like children that have been playing cheerfully in the schoolyard, only to be told that all along they have had some hideous physical deformity.

“Their little hearts sink and they piss their pants. They leave the playground burning with shame, as a scornful, self-righteous future turns around with its stone and takes aim. But what songwriter could have predicted thirty years ago that the future would lose its sense of humour, its sense of playfulness, its sense of context, nuance and irony, and fall into the hands of a perpetually pissed off coterie of pearl-clutchers? How were we to know?”

The singer said that artists of the past could have taken more care but insisted that the songs still had “integrity”.

He added: “Perhaps we writers should have been more careful with our words – I can own this, and I may even agree – however, we should never blame the songs themselves. Songs are divinely constituted organisms. They have their own integrity. As flawed as they may be, the souls of the songs must be protected at all costs.


“They must be allowed to exist in all their aberrant horror, unmolested by these strident advocates of the innocuous, even if just as some indication that the world has moved toward a better, fairer and more sensitive place.”

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He concluded his answer, writing: “If punishment must be administered, punish the creators, not the songs. We can handle it. I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.”

Meanwhile, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have announced that they will be heading out on a North American tour later this year with support from Weyes Blood.

Set to take place in September and October, the band’s North American tour will start at The Armory in Minneapolis on September 16 ending at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on October 17.

The band will also embark on a string of UK and European live dates in support of last year’s ‘Ghosteen’ album, starting in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday, April 22.

Among the European dates, The Bad Seeds will visit Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin and Leeds before headlining two nights at The O2 in London.