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Imani
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Post subject: 'Nick Cave Broaches Whether He’ll Change Problematic Lyrics' Reply with quote

(I'm not a Nick Cave fan but saw someone had posted this article in a Facebook group and thought it of relevance generally.)

Nick Cave Addresses Whether He’ll Change Problematic Old Lyrics

by Peter Helman, Stereogum, March 7, 2020

Some of Nick Cave’s old lyrics haven’t aged particularly well. And in the latest issue of his Red Hand Files newsletter, which he’s been using to answer questions from his fans for a while now, he addresses the question of what to do with problematic old lyrics.

These latest musings are the result of a question from an Irish fan named Gavin. “Do you ever feel the need to change lyrics, when performing live, which may be problematic in 2020, for example ‘a fag in a whalebone corset dragging his dick across my cheek’?” he asks. “Or are you happy to preserve the lyric as a product of its time, and respect the original content?”

Cave’s answer is pretty much the latter option. “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?” he asks.

“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,” Cave continues. “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.”

Read Cave’s full answer below.

Dear Gavin,

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?

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. 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.

Love, Nick

https://www.stereogum.com/2076046/nick-cave-addresses-change-problematic-old-lyrics/news/
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:01 pm
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Imani
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He's addressed it fairly.

It should be at the artist's discretion ultimately and it looks like he'll stand his ground... but having said that, if he did decide to change any of his old lyrics, it could open up an unnecessary can of worms for other writers.
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:49 pm
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Trojan
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Post subject: Re: 'Nick Cave Broaches Whether He’ll Change Problematic Lyr Reply with quote

Nick Cave wrote:
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.



Oh for fuck sake, pull your head out of your arse man...
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:53 pm
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Imani
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Post subject: Re: 'Nick Cave Broaches Whether He’ll Change Problematic Lyr Reply with quote

Trojan wrote:
Nick Cave wrote:
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.



Oh for fuck sake, pull your head out of your arse man...


I don't know if you're castigating him or being ironic, Trojan. Care to elaborate?
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 5:41 pm
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Trojan
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Post subject: Re: 'Nick Cave Broaches Whether He’ll Change Problematic Lyr Reply with quote

Imani wrote:
Trojan wrote:
Nick Cave wrote:
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.



Oh for fuck sake, pull your head out of your arse man...


I don't know if you're castigating him or being ironic, Trojan. Care to elaborate?


Two words: pretentious drivel.
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:58 pm
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Imani
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The fan raised a good and pertinent question. I'm in agreement with the content and manner of the response given by Cave. To me he's simply saying that people should look at things in context.
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Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:55 pm
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Trojan
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Imani wrote:
The fan raised a good and pertinent question. I'm in agreement with the content and manner of the response given by Cave. To me he's simply saying that people should look at things in context.


I agree with what he is saying, but he far from simply stating it.
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Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:09 pm
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Imani
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I was more focused on his stance on the issue than his choice of words. The words weren't an issue for me either, nor for the many that responded positively to the article, if Facebook is a barometer. Obviously he can't please everyone.
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Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:18 pm
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bluearmy78
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Leave things as they were. This would open up a whole can of worms. The world has moved on, not all for the better either, but songs, as films were of their time. Look at classics like Fairy Tale of New York , just doesnt seem right to mess with the original content. The world was a different place, its all part of history,changing it only covers up where we have come from over the years. Its all part of progression. l dont see some of these rap artists changing their lyrics about being cop killers etc, if anything those type of artist have gotten worse.
On a side note, my Mrs loves Nick Cave, me, l dont see what all the fuss is about. Dont like his voice, cant sit through an album of his lm afraid. Maybe lm missing something ?
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Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:31 pm
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
Leave things as they were. This would open up a whole can of worms. The world has moved on, not all for the better either, but songs, as films were of their time. Look at classics like Fairy Tale of New York , just doesnt seem right to mess with the original content. The world was a different place, its all part of history,changing it only covers up where we have come from over the years. Its all part of progression. l dont see some of these rap artists changing their lyrics about being cop killers etc, if anything those type of artist have gotten worse.
On a side note, my Mrs loves Nick Cave, me, l dont see what all the fuss is about. Dont like his voice, cant sit through an album of his lm afraid. Maybe lm missing something ?


I think most would agree things are best left as they were, and kept in context.

Maybe, if The Day Today is anything to go by, those rappers were using irony? See 2:05 Wink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7f-OEvCQWg
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Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:13 pm
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bluearmy78
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Maybe they were Imani. But in some cases l doubt it. Not a music l particularly like, but each to their own. I find some of it very distasteful to be honest. But again, its best left alone, its history and of its time. Songs shouldnt be changed. They should be as they were intended.
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Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:57 am
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
Maybe they were Imani. But in some cases l doubt it. Not a music l particularly like, but each to their own. I find some of it very distasteful to be honest. But again, its best left alone, its history and of its time. Songs shouldnt be changed. They should be as they were intended.


I agree with you. Late 80s to about 1993 I really liked hip hop, especially the more socially conscious music but the purely fun/apolitical stuff was good as well. Unfortunately the rappers with less intelligent lyrics were given more airtime by the mid 90s. Perhaps now they also get people that question whether they should still be doing those songs. Personally I'd rather vote with my 'feet' and listen to other things.
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Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:49 pm
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marigold
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It reads like a big long inflated and self important excuse and not a defendable reason.......
but he shouldn't worry as he won't be remembered for any lyrics Confused Confused Confused
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Mon Mar 16, 2020 5:36 pm
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Trojan
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marigold wrote:
It reads like a big long inflated and self important excuse and not a defendable reason.......
but he shouldn't worry as he won't be remembered for any lyrics Confused Confused Confused


That just about sums it up Very Happy .
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Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:39 pm
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Imani
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marigold wrote:
It reads like a big long inflated and self important excuse and not a defendable reason.......
but he shouldn't worry as he won't be remembered for any lyrics Confused Confused Confused


Mary, there are countless of examples of songs, books, plays, films, sitcoms, dramas etc from the past with what would now be seen as questionable content. Even things that really aren't intended to offend, or just taken out of context.

In practical terms it's all mostly forgotten and there's generally more awareness of what's appropriate. I doubt whether anything but a small percentage of it will find itself under similar scrutiny. So yes, I don't see him being remembered for THAT particular lyric, put it this way!

Also bearing in mind this is Cave speaking to his audience in a fan club exchange, and not a public press release. Perhaps he should have ignored the question altogether which probably would have resulted in even more condemnation from some quarters.
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Tue Mar 17, 2020 8:06 am
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