Nick Cave opens up on embracing a “new and raw honesty toward myself and the world”

The musician was writing in response to a fan as part of his 'Red Hand Files' Q&A series

Nick Cave has opened up on how he came to embrace a “new and raw honesty toward myself and the world” following the tragic death of his son in 2015.

Cave addressed the topic of honesty in the latest edition of his ongoing Red Hand Files Q&A series, writing in response to a fan who was “impressed by your brutal honesty when answering such personal questions” in a 2017 GQ profile.

Referencing a line by the poet David Whyte (“the fear of loss is the motivator behind all conscious and unconscious dishonesties”), Cave said he “found there to be so much truth in these words”.


“After my son died and I eventually stepped from the darkness back into the world, I brought with me a gift that I feel I am only beginning to understand,” he wrote. “I felt that my family and I had been tested and that we had survived, and this gift that I carried was the freedom to be honest with myself and with others — as there was nothing left to conceal.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Nick Cave (Picture: Getty)

“The protective shell that I had constructed around myself, my old life, had been torn away. I had been exposed, and I had nothing left to defend. The gift in the gauntlet was a new and raw honesty toward myself and toward the world.”

Cave remarked that he felt “extraordinarily liberated” after experiencing “the world [having] done its worst”, saying that he felt “protected by the calamity itself and perversely invincible within my own vulnerability”.

“Deception, artifice and keeping up appearances took up too much energy — I didn’t have the stamina for my own pretence and little patience for it in others,” he added.

Cave continued by observing that honesty “is simply a declaration of one’s own vulnerability”.


“My own vulnerability and the vulnerability of others became, in the end, a kind of shared armour. I learned that, ultimately, our own truth and sense of self is all any of us have. We are enough, if we could only allow ourselves to be.”

Earlier this month, Cave drew on his own experience of battling with the loss of a child to provide advice and support for people going through similarly difficult circumstances.

Last month, the Bad Seeds launched a new broadcast stream called Bad Seed TeeVee, which airs rare and unseen footage from the band’s archive 24 hours a day.