Nick Cave didn’t talk to anybody around the release of 2016’s masterful album Skeleton Tree. This makes sense on several levels. For one, Cave had just gone through one of the most tragic things a human being can experience — his teenage son died after falling from a cliff near their home. And on the other hand, he didn’t need to talk to anyone about Skeleton Tree‘s creation. That process was captured in the excellent making-of documentary One More Time With Feeling.
As well-crafted as the Andrew Dominik-directed Feeling was, however, it’s always nice to hear something directly from the source. So, months after the release of Skeleton Tree, Cave opened up about that album and the grieving process in a career-spanning piece in GQ.
Cave — who has a reputation as a bit of a curmudgeonly figure — starts off the piece by questioning the common interpretation of grief and the idea that it leads to better things.
“The whole grief thing, there’s nothing good about it whatsoever,” he said. “People will tell you other things, but it’s like a f*cking disease. A contagion that not only affects you but everybody around you. And it’s cunning. And you can feel good and you can be getting on with things, and then it just comes up and sort of punches you in the back of the head and you’re down and you’re out for the count for a while. I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically too. Grief and illness and tiredness feed off each other in a kind of feeding frenzy.”