Nick Cave responds to fan who misses his anger: “Things changed after my first son died”

“For better or for worse, the rage you speak of lost its allure and, yes, perhaps I became a Hallmark card hippie”

Nick Cave has responded to a fan who wrote to his Red Hand Files newsletter, criticising him for losing his anger.

The star regularly responds to questions and messages from fans on the site, sharing advice, stories behind his music and more.

In the latest post on Red Hand Files, Cave shared a note from a fan called Ermine, who asked: “When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred?”


They added: “Reading these lately is like listening to an old preacher drone on and on at Sunday mass.”

Nick Cave
Nick Cave performs live with the Bad Seeds in 2017. CREDIT: Burak Cingi/Redferns

In response, Cave cited the death of his son Arthur as being behind the shift in his energy. “Things changed after my first son died,” he wrote. “I changed. For better or for worse, the rage you speak of lost its allure and, yes, perhaps I became a Hallmark card hippie. Hatred stopped being interesting. Those feelings were like old dead skins that I shed. They were their own kind of puke.

“Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something, had some kind of nobility, hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there, and making sure that everybody around me knew it, not just knew, but felt it too, contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb.”

He described losing Arthur as coming face-to-face with “actual devastation” and said he “felt a sudden, urgent need to, at the very least, extend a hand in some way to assist it – this terrible, beautiful world – instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it”.

Cave concluded his reply by acknowledging could be right in his assessment of him. “But, well, here we are, you and me, sending smoke signals to each other across a yawning ideological divide,” he wrote. “Hello Ermine, I drone, hello.”


Arthur Cave died in 2015 after falling from a 60ft cliff in Ovingdean Gap, East Sussex. An inquest found that he had taken LSD prior to his death and that he suffered a fractured skull, broken legs and bleeding on the brain. He was 15 years old.

The abrasive fan message follows Cave responding to another missive earlier this month asking for his opinions on joy. “What is joy? Where is it? Where is love in this world that is such an evil mess?” One fan had asked.

“Joy sings small, bright songs in the dark — these moments, so easily disregarded, so quickly dismissed, are the radiant points of light that pierce the gloom to give validation to the world,” part of Cave’s response read. “That’s how the light gets in, Leonard Cohen tells us, whilst casting his genius and delight forever among the cosmos.”

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