In the latest response on his The Red Hand Files Q+A site, Nick Cave has revealed that "Girl in Amber" is largely inspired by his son's death.
Nick Cave compiled a mix of questions about his Skeleton Tree track "Girl in Amber" for the latest response on his fan Q+A site The Red Hand Files.
In the response, he reveals that "Girl in Amber" first came about in 2014, "Back in 2014, I was sitting at Warren’s kitchen table after a day of making music in his little studio at the back of his house in Paris. On the table was a paperweight with a spider trapped inside, and the title "Girl in Amber" slipped into my mind. I remember feeling happy, because I rarely get given titles for songs - the title almost always comes after a long struggle with the words - and this one seemed alive with meaning."
He goes on to write that he "forgot about it" until he was in a studio in Paris a year later trying to finish Skeleton Tree. He writes, "Things had changed. Arthur, my son, had died a few months earlier and I was existing in a kind of fugue-state, numbly sitting in the studio listening to the songs, trying to make sense of the material we had been working on over the last year, and as I listened to the version of ‘Girl in Amber’, I was completely overwhelmed by what I heard."
Explaining how "Girl in Amber" became inspired by his late son and his wife, Cave writes, "It was suddenly and tragically clear that "Girl in Amber" had found its 'who'. The 'who' was Susie, my wife - held impossibly, as she was at the time, within her grief, reliving each day a relentless spinning song that began with the ringing of the phone and ended with the collapse of her world. The eerie, death-obsessed second verse seemed to speak directly to me, and I added the half-line ‘Your little blue-eyed boy’, but left the rest of the verse as it was. There were a couple of lines in the song that made little sense, but I left them unchanged for they brought a fractured inarticulateness to the lyric, which added to its mysterious, emotional pull. I added the line 'Don’t touch me' in the mixing session some months later. It felt true."
Discussing how it felt to perform the heartfelt track on tour, Cave adds, "When I sang "Girl in Amber" on the Skeleton Tree tour, it felt very much as if I was singing into the terrible present - my wife still trapped in the amber of her grief. Last month I performed it on the In Conversation tour. Three years had gone by and it struck me as I sang it, alone at the piano, that I was speaking to the past, and that Susie had been released, at least in part, from the suffocating darkness that surrounded her. There was some air and some light between her and the world. Time had done its work."