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Nick Cave shares his advice on how to write a song

It appears Nick Cave has been answering more questions on his fan-led forum, the Red Hand Files.

This time he is teaching us how to write a song, giving the world some of his own unused lyrics as inspiration.

The legend himself, Nick Cave, gives advice on how to write a song and publishes new lyrics via his Red Hand Files.

A fan from Baltimore recently asked, “I’m a songwriter. I’m seriously blocked. Do you have any spare lyrics I can have?” Cave later replied, donating his own lines from a song titled Incinerator Man in a very casual encounter.

“Sure, here are some lyrics for you. They are a little on the dark side and pretty obscure, and perhaps a bit too heavy on the old Frederick Seidel.”

Following an explanation of his current fascination of Seidel’s poems and excusing a lack of structure to the proposed lyrics, he then proceeded to give some well-respected advice;“Throw it on a lean circular chord formation, with lots of space and air, so that you can really creep the vocal and tell the story.”

Below the two paragraphs of lyrics, Cave made his final suggestions:

“This, of course, will not help with your “block”. My advice to you is to change your basic relationship to songwriting. You are not the ‘Great Creator’ of your songs, you are simply their servant, and the songs will come to you when you have adequately prepared yourself to receive them. They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.”

“Songs, in my experience, are attracted to an open, playful and motivated mind. Throw my song away – it isn’t that good anyway – sit down, prepare yourself and write your own damn song. You are a songwriter. You have the entire world to save and very little time to do it. The song will find its way to you. If you don’t write it, someone else will. Is that what you want? If not, get to it.”

“Much love, Nick”

You heard the man. Get to it.

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June 12, 2019