Nick Cave said he thinks it is possible to separate art from artists, when a fan asked for his thoughts on how to deal with Morrissey’s problematic statements.
Writing on Cave’s Red Hand Files website, the fan described his “current struggle” reconciling Morrissey’s recent far right support when he’d once put him “on a pedestal”.
He also asked: “Generally, is it possible to separate the latter-day artist from his earlier art?”
Cave responded thoughtfully, suggesting that it’s possible to separate Morrissey from his music.
“Whatever inanities [Morrissey] may postulate, we cannot overlook the fact that he has written a vast and extraordinary catalogue, which has enhanced the lives of his many fans beyond recognition,” Cave said. “This is no small thing. He has created original and distinctive works of unparalleled beauty, that will long outlast his offending political alliances…
“As a songwriter and someone who believes songs possess extraordinary healing power, I am saddened by the thought that songs by arguably the greatest lyricist of his generation — songs like ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Reel Around The Fountain’, and ‘Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me’ — are consigned to the moral dustbin by those who feel they have been tainted by his current political posturing. I respect and understand why people respond in this way, but can’t help but feel it is of significant personal loss to them.”
Just days ago Morrissey published a lengthy Q&A conducted with his nephew, touching on many subjects - including the artist’s support for the For Britain party, whose controversial hard right stance on immigration has made them the subject of much criticism.
Cave went on: “Perhaps it is better to simply let Morrissey have his views, challenge them when and wherever possible, but allow his music to live on, bearing in mind we are all conflicted individuals — messy, flawed and prone to lunacies. We should thank God that there are some among us that create works of beauty beyond anything most of us can barely imagine, even as some of those same people fall prey to regressive and dangerous belief systems.”
Discussion and debate is clearly important to Cave, who has launched a ‘Conversations’ series - a chance for the artist to open up to fans. The free-flowing discussions are matched by the ongoing correspondence that forms the Red Hand Files. Described by the artist himself as “an exercise in connectivity” the conversations are intended to be entirely open.
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