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Nick Cave gives powerful advice to fans on love and heartbreak

The singer-songwriter has written insightfully of love's importance in his 'Red Hand Files' newsletter

By Joe Goggins

Nick Cave in a black and white studio
The latest instalment of Cave's newsletter is a heartfelt one. (Photo: Press)

Nick Cave has delivered some sage advice on love and heartbreak to a pair of fans.

Writing in the 177th edition of his ‘The Red Hand Files’ newsletter, in which he answers questions submitted from around the world, the iconic singer-songwriter responded to two queries; one from Mauro in Leuven, Belgium, who asked “I’m 17 years old, what can you tell me about love?” and another from Jenny in Paris, who enquired, “how do I not have my heart broken?”

In a bulletin sent out to subscribers on Wednesday (December 15), the Australian concluded that the avoidance of heartbreak at any cost was not a desirable path. “The surest way to avoid a broken heart is to love nothing and no-one,” he wrote. “Not your partner, your child, your mother or father, your brothers or sisters; not your friends; not your neighbour; not your dog or your cat; not your football team, your garden, your granny or your job. In short, love not the world and love nothing in it.”

Quoting a contemporary, Cave continued: “As Neil Young so plainly and painfully sings, ‘Only love can break your heart.’ In short, resist love, because real love, big love, true love, fierce love, is a perilous thing, and travels surely towards its devastation. A broken heart — that grief of love — is always love’s true destination. This is the covenant of love.”

He went on to describe love as “the primary human function,” telling Mauro that to reject it was to “reject life itself.” In an emotional conclusion to his missive, Cave urged his correspondents to embrace love, and life. “Yes, heartache awaits love’s end,” he mused, “but you find in time that this too is a gift — this little death — from which you are reborn, time and again. I have only one piece of advice for you both, and it is the very best that I can give. Love. The world is waiting.”

Cave has been running ‘The Red Hand Files’ since September of 2018. In that time, he has reflected on everything from music, family and censorship to his relationship with PJ Harvey and his experiences during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Only one question appears to have stumped him during this period; during a Q&A session on his ‘Conversations with Nick Cave’ tour in his adopted hometown of Brighton in June 2019, an audience member told Cave that he lived in his old Hove flat, and asked if he knew where the stopcock was.

Cave did not. In other news, he and long-time Bad Seeds collaborator Warren Ellis unveiled a new track this week, releasing ‘Les Cerfs’ on Wednesday (December 15). The song is taken from the pair’s latest film score, for Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier’s ‘La Panthère Des Neiges’, the English title of which is ‘The Velvet Queen’. You can listen to ‘Les Cerfs’ below.

In a statement accompanying the track’s release, Ellis said: “There is something about the heart of this film that draws you in. I realised after a day, that I wanted to do whatever it took to compose an entire original score. The film deserved to have its own musical voice. I booked five days and asked Nick if he could come in for a day to write a theme song and play some piano. He saw the film and stayed for four days.”

‘La Panthère Des Neiges’ will be released in the US next Wednesday (December 22). No UK release date has yet been set. Cave and Ellis’ score is available digitally today (December 17), via Invada Records and Lakeshore Records.