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Nick Cave says the songs on Ghosteen became a "free-floating conversation with the spirit world"

26 November 2019, 14:31 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

In the latest response on his The Red Hand Files Q+A site, Nick Cave has described the songs of Ghosteen as a "free-floating conversation with the spirit world".

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released their 17th album Ghosteen last month, and in the latest response on his Q+A site The Red Hand Files, the singer/songwriter has answered questions about the new LP.

One fan called Jonah asks Cave why he thinks fans are reacting so differently to the album, citing that he found it "uplifting" and "jubilant", and stating that he feels he may have "misinterpreted it".

Cave responds, "I am very happy to hear you describe Ghosteen as uplifting and jubilant, Jonah. This was certainly the Bad Seeds’ objective when we made the record. We wanted each song to feel as if it were climbing toward an exultant and euphoric state, for the record to be a vessel that transported the listener far away from the world and its troubles, and that it lived in the jubilant and hopeful beyond. If there is sadness in Ghosteen, perhaps it is the recognition that we are often blind to the splendour of the world and indifferent to its attendant wonder. Perhaps the sadness is the recognition that the world is indeed beautiful, that it spins within the palm of our own hands and its beauty is available to all, if only we had eyes to see."

Another fan called Amber asks Cave if the new album is haunted, to which he responds, "And maybe, Amber, you are right and Ghosteen is haunted. Perhaps the songs became a kind of free-floating conversation with the spirit world, buoyed up by the absence of the ones we love. Perhaps the ghostly forms of the departed are all around us, magnetised toward the act of creation. Perhaps they see that to be alive and upon the earth, at this time and against all the odds, is the most rare and coveted of things, and to be making art such a singular and fortuitous privilege, that they just wanted to come along for the ride."

He adds, "In the song "Ghosteen", baby bear goes to the moon in a boat; Ghosteen is that boat, as it sails through the dark to the stars, a galleon ship collecting fireflies and spirit-children as it goes. At times Ghosteen may feel unmoored and homeless, but it is pointed firmly toward paradise, the crew is joyous, the world smiles, and the sun bursts over the edge of the earth."

For the final part of his response, Cave answers Kjell's question about the lack of drums on Ghosteen. Cave writes, "Thomas Wydler, our drummer, did some amazing work on this record, however, after a great deal of thought, we all felt that the drums anchored the songs to the ground and didn’t allow them to float. The decision was not made lightly or on a whim, rather it was a tough artistic decision determined by the needs of the songs themselves. Although there is little drumming on the first part of Ghosteen, Tommy’s absence is courageous and monumental and gives the record its amorphous sound. He is the very best there is. The decision as to what sort of record we make is largely out of our hands. We have no ‘intentions’ beyond meaning itself. The record must mean something, right? What more can we ask? The form that that expression of meaning comes in is, to some degree, beside the point. We are slaves to manifest meaning and masters to nothing at all."

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