Nick Cave has opened up about his songwriting process and his personal life in recent years, answering questions from fans directly at unique “conversation” tour dates and taking more queries online for his Red Hand Files project. Now his life is literally an open book.
A new folio, Stranger Than Kindness, which comes out Tuesday, lifts the long black veil on what makes the artist tick. The volume, which complements last year’s Nick Cave retrospective museum exhibition, tells Cave’s life story through family photos, pictures of unusual objects he has collected and kept, photos of his lyrics, and sparse commentary from the Baddest Seed himself. It contains images of early concerts by the Boys Next Door in the Seventies, lyrics he wrote in blood for the Birthday Party in the Eighties, notebooks he has kept ever since he ventured out as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, some glimpses into the freedom he felt venturing out with his garage-rock quartet Grinderman in the mid-Aughts, and much more. It’s a rare compilation of the raw ingredients that fuel his intensity in concert and on record.
The images and captions in Rolling Stone’s exclusive Stranger Than Kindness excerpt all come from the book, and they show Cave’s journey from his teen years in Australia to the genesis of his most recent Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen. In between those photos are glimpses at some of the connective tissue — diary entries, naughty doodles, scribbled lyrics — that joins his art to his artistry.