Nick Cave Creates a List of His Top 10 Love Songs

This wall I built around you
Is made out of stone-lies
O lit­tle girl the truth would be
An axe in thee

—Nick Cave, “Say Good­bye to the Lit­tle Girl Tree”

Nick Cave has been many things in his long, fas­ci­nat­ing career—lewd punk-coun­try croon­er for the assaultive Birth­day Par­ty, prophet­ic trou­ba­dour and Bib­li­cal bal­ladeer, founder of the grit­ty, sleazy Grin­der­man, nov­el­ist and poet of the dark­er realms of human expe­ri­ence. He has been many things, but sen­ti­men­tal has rarely been one of them, though he can be quite ten­der and vul­ner­a­ble. These qual­i­ties stand as some of the many rea­sons I trust Cave to make a list of love songs worth a damn. Not only has he writ­ten some of the finest tunes about heart­break, betray­al, regret, and desire but he has done so with an atti­tude of rev­er­ence for influ­ences like Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, artists with their own com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ships with love.

Ear­li­er this year, Cave revealed to read­ers of his blog The Red Hand Files a selec­tion of his “hid­ing songs”—music that “I can pull over myself,” he wrote, “like a child might pull the bed cov­ers over their head, when the blaze of the world becomes too intense.”

The list includes Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and Simone’s heart­break­ing­ly somber “Plain Gold Ring.”  When Cave is hid­ing, it ain’t in a hap­py place, but then sad songs usu­al­ly give us the great­est com­fort. Maybe they also offer the best way we have to under­stand love, “this strange, inscrutable feel­ing that tears away at us, all our lives,” Cave writes in answer to two of his fans from Aus­tralia and Brazil. He leaves them, and us, his list of top ten love songs below.

01. “To Love Some­body” – Bee Gees

02. “My Father” – Nina Simone

03. “I Threw It All Away” – Bob Dylan

04. “Com­fort You” – Van Mor­ri­son

05. “Angel of the Morn­ing” – Mer­rilee Rush & The Turn­abouts

06. “Nights in White Satin” – The Moody Blues

07. “Where’s the Play­ground Susie?” – Glen Camp­bell

08. “Some­thing on Your Mind” – Karen Dal­ton

09. “Always on My Mind” – Elvis Pres­ley

10. “Super­star” – Car­pen­ters

“Maybe some songs are the embod­i­ment of love itself and that’s why they move us so deeply.” No one needs to tell us: love is nev­er easy, and hard­ly ever just a feel­ing of eupho­ria. Like every emo­tion and expe­ri­ence, it has its melan­choly shad­ows, and the best love songs cap­ture this in their lyrics, chord pro­gres­sions, etc. The ten love songs Cave chose—“simple, plain­spo­ken, incen­di­ary devices that bomb the heart to pieces”—are all clas­sics from the six­ties and sev­en­ties, decades he draws from lib­er­al­ly in his “hid­ing songs” playlist.

He favors artists with big per­son­al­i­ties, coun­try and folk lean­ings, and often­times a more com­mer­cial sound than his own. Nonethe­less, those famil­iar with his music will hear the influ­ence of Elvis, Van Mor­ri­son, and maybe even the Bee Gees on his work with the Bad Seeds. He has a new album com­ing, the fol­low-up to 2016’s har­row­ing Skele­ton Tree. While we wait to hear what his wife calls “his Fever Songs,” lis­ten to his top ten love songs here.

via Brook­lyn Veg­an

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lis­ten to Nick Cave’s Lec­ture on the Art of Writ­ing Sub­lime Love Songs (1999)

Nick Cave Answers the Hot­ly Debat­ed Ques­tion: Will Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Ever Be Able to Write a Great Song?

Ani­mat­ed Sto­ries Writ­ten by Tom Waits, Nick Cave & Oth­er Artists, Read by Dan­ny Devi­to, Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (6)
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  • Helena Veird says:

    Amaz­ing!!! Thank you very much

  • Niko says:

    What a dis­ap­point­ing list from an oth­er­wise great musi­cian. These songs are good but…he seems to be stuck in an era.

  • Lone Wienberg Hansen says:

    Fantastiske.…at erindre de gam­le slagere.….lyder refrænet i en gam­mel dan­sk slager. I denne lille bog håber jeg imi­dler­tid at over­be­vise læseren om, at erindringer ikke kun er til for nos­tal­giens skyld. 11\4\19 hej LWH

  • Karl Reitma says:

    I tried my best, tried to lis­ten to them all… Gave up after 10–30 sec­onds. Ter­ri­ble songs. Best is per­haps the Elvis Pres­ley song, it’s a pity that the singing is so tepid and tedious.

  • Nancy says:

    Has he nev­er lis­tened to the songs of the great Amer­i­can song­book? I believe that the ones were writ­ten dur­ing the depres­sion and the war.

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