“Stranger than kindness/ Bottled light from hotels/ Spilling everything/ Wet hand from the volcano/ Sobers your skin/ Stranger than kindness.”
Nick Cave’s iconic baritone spills like quicksilver over a sombre guitar riff in the opening verse of his band’s 1986 single, “Stranger than Kindness”, a slow tune, purposefully sung in every syllable through Cave’s drawled delivery. Over a nearly 50-year career, the Australian musician has amassed a cult following, from his blues-inspired rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds into his compositional work for films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007, with collaborator Warren Ellis.
The emotional intensity of Cave’s songs, felt through the dark poeticism of the lyrics and powerfully sung vocals, evokes a visceral connection to his audience. After the death of his son, Arthur, in 2015, Cave engaged with fans through a public newsletter on the chasms of loss, writing to one recently bereaved woman, “Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves.”
More of Cave’s meditations will be revealed in his upcoming autobiography, Stranger than Kindness, to be released in March 2020. Concurrent with the release, a Gucci-backed exhibition, Stranger than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition, will open at the Black Diamond gallery in Copenhagen, running from March 23 to October 3. Spread across eight rooms, the exhibition will hold over 300 pieces, including items from Cave’s personal collection, as well as large scale installations and original atmospheric soundscapes composed by Cave and Ellis. Visitors can immerse themselves in the cultural icon’s real and imagined universes by roaming through the contents of his mind: artwork, handwritten lyrics, literature, photography, videos, and more.
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