Nick Cave has urged people to separate Morrissey‘s “regressive” and “dangerous” beliefs from his music, saying it’s important to let Morrissey express his views, and challenge them when necessary.
Cave’s statement via The Red Hand Files, follows Morrissey’s most recent interview with his nephew, where the maligned Mancunian singer said that “everyone prefers his own race”, while exclaiming that Nigel Farage would make a good Prime Minister and that For Britain’s far-right leader, Anne-Marie Waters, is the only politician capable of uniting left-wing and right-wing people in the UK.
Cave, in his lengthy response to a fan, started by expressing his belief that once a song is out, it ceases to truly belong to the artist:
“Personally, when I write a song and release it to the public, I feel it stops being my song. It has been offered up to my audience and they, if they care to, take possession of that song and become its custodian. The integrity of the song now rests not with the artist, but with the listener.”
Cave then continued, addressing the issue of Morrissey’s art versus his personal beliefs in a manner similar to that of the late Tony Wilson,
“Views and behaviour are separate issues – Morrissey’s political opinion becomes irrelevant. Whatever inanities he 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. This is no small thing. He has created original and distinctive works of unparalleled beauty, that will long outlast his offending political alliances.”
Cave then expressed that he initially felt compelled to comment on the controversy regarding Morrissey’s political views after the question was posed to him by a fan at Nottingham show during his current speaking tour.
“At my recent ‘In Conversation’ event in Nottingham a gentleman put forward an excellent challenge to my views on free speech – he pointed out the perceived racism of Morrissey’s political stance and told how personally wounded he felt by Morrissey’s views on immigration.”
After expressing he wished he had answered the question better, he Cave continues:
“Open debate and conversation are the very structure of civilisation, and in Nottingham it was a privilege to be challenged by this very thoughtful young man. However, even though I was unsatisfied by my own response, I still believe that despite how upsetting Morrissey’s views may be to the marginalised and dispossessed members of society, or anyone else for that matter, he still should have the freedom to express his views, just as others should have the freedom to challenge them – even if just to know in what guise their enemy may appear.”
Continuing on his personal feelings on Morrissey’s work, separate from his personal beliefs, Cave added:
“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.”
Cave concluded his thoughts on the matter by suggesting that:
“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.”
Ultimately, as evidenced from previous Red Hand Files entries, Cave’s views on art and free speech seem to mirror that of the oft misattributed Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote that paraphrases Voltaire:
“I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
“Conversations With Nick Cave” concludes its tour with two hometown shows at Brighton Dome tonight, June 28th, and tomorrow, June 29th.