Nick Cave: “I don’t think art should be in the hands of the virtuous”
The musician on why Morrissey matters, his deepening faith and grieving for his sons.
One of the subjects on which Cave has recently ordered his thoughts is cancel culture, and what he describes as its asphyxiating effect on creative society. “I think the divisive nature of the cultural argument these days is religious in temperament,” he says, “and the worst of religion is puritanical, superior, self-righteous.” I ask him about Morrissey, now considered a pariah for his nationalist sympathies. “The hypocrisy is ridiculous,” he says. “I don’t care what Morrissey’s views on things are, but I do care about his legacy. I think they’re some of the most beautiful songs ever written, and they meant an enormous amount to people when they came out. Those songs saved lives. His songs talked to these lonely, disenfranchised individuals, and certainly they had a voice.
“I think we need to be careful with these sorts of things, when we’re looking around for the bad actors. The music that really inspires me is almost always made by the most terrible characters. Not necessarily cancellable, but just not very nice people. I don’t think art should be in the hands of the virtuous.”
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