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Nick Cave reveals how PJ Harvey broke up with him

29 August 2019, 11:24 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

In the latest answer on Nick Cave's Red Hand Files site, he's revealed how PJ Harvey broke up with him.

The Red Hand Files is a site which Nick Cave uses to interact with fans on a more personal level. Some of his responses so far have seen the musician give fans lyrics to use, as well as revealing that he once made a song with Flatbush Zombies. He's also spoken about dealing with grief following the passing of his son, and even called out a homophobic fan.

In the latest response, Cave speaks about his split from PJ Harvey back in the '90s. He writes, "The truth of the matter is that I didn’t give up on PJ Harvey, PJ Harvey gave up on me. There I am, sitting on the floor of my flat in Notting Hill, sun streaming through the window (maybe), feeling good, with a talented and beautiful young singer for a girlfriend, when the phone rings. I pick up the phone and it’s Polly. "Hi," I say. "I want to break up with you." "Why?!" I ask. "It’s just over," she says. I was so surprised I almost dropped my syringe."

Cave adds, "Deep down I suspected that drugs might have been a problem between us, but there were other things too. I still had a certain amount of work to do on my understanding of the concept of monogamy, and Polly had her own issues, I suspect, but I think at the end of the day it came down to the fact that we were both fiercely creative people, each too self-absorbed to ever be able to inhabit the same space in any truly meaningful way. We were like two lost matching suitcases, on a carousel going nowhere."

He goes on to discuss how he was "consumed" by songwriting at the time, and how his split with PJ Harvey allowed him to complete The Boatman’s Call. He adds, "The Boatman’s Call cured me of Polly Harvey. It also changed the way I made music. The record was an artistic rupture in itself, to which I owe a great debt. It was the compensatory largesse for a broken heart, or at least what I thought at the time was a broken heart – in recent years I have re-evaluated that term. The break up filled me with a lunatic energy that gave me the courage to write songs about commonplace human experiences (like broken hearts) openly, boldly and with meaning – a kind of writing that I had, until that date, steered clear of, feeling a need to instead conceal my personal experiences in character-driven stories."

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