Nick Cave shares the story behind “great love song” ‘Night Raid’

Nick Cave

Nick Cave has shared the story behind the Bad Seeds’ “great love song” ‘Night Raid’ in the latest post on his Red Hand Files website.

The track appeared on the Bad Seeds’ 2019 album ‘Ghosteen’, which was written in the aftermath of the death of Cave’s son Arthur in 2015.

A fan called Alice wrote to Cave via the Red Hand Files site, asking what the song was about. Cave replied, explaining that it told “the story of the conception of our [with fashion designer and his wife Susie] twins, Earl and Arthur,” while they were on their honeymoon in New Orleans 23 years ago.

“I understand that it is probably a slightly dubious premise for a song, but like a lot of songs from ‘Ghosteen’, the words just arrived from some other place, with considerable force, and demanded to be taken seriously,” the musician wrote.

“In ‘Night Raid’, not without a certain amount of humour, the ordinary human act of carnal love takes on a quasi-mystical status as both an act of creation – the actual conception of the children – and also a poetic retelling of the incident as a cherished and innocent memory seen through the lens of the experienced and calamitous present.”

Cave continued to dissect some of the song’s lyrics, noting the line “They were just a sigh released from a dying star” refers to the twins’ conception, amongst other things.

He added that he sees ‘Night Raid’ as ‘Ghosteen’’s “great love song” and suggested it “attempts to present the idea that the everyday human gesture is always a heartbeat away from the miraculous”. “‘Night Raid’ tells us that our deeds, no matter how insignificant they may feel, are replete with meaning and of vast consequence and that they constantly impact upon the unfolding story of the world, whether we know it or not,” he wrote.

“In ‘Night Raid’, the common act of love initiates a journey through time that holds enormous consequence, that continues to impact upon the world – even now as I write to you, at five in the morning, after a show at the Sydney Opera House,” Cave concluded. “All action provokes change. Nothing is ineffectual. Nothing.”

Last month, Cave used the Red Hand Files to share advice for those considering getting a tattoo. In the response to a fan, the star shared the story of how he ended up getting a tattoo of a skull and dagger with a then-girlfriend’s name on it.

“Now, nearly fifty years later, as I stand before the mirror, I would say, Luca, that the tattoo is the least of my worries,” Cave commented. “It seems to be just one part of a general emerging calamity.”

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