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Nick Cave
Australian musical force Nick Cave grew up in rural Victoria.

Although Cave loved the epic landscape, he hated the attitudes of small-town Australia.

It was the early 70s and he was influenced by David Bowie and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop - songwriters, performers, heroes of pop's avant garde.

In 1983 when Cave learned that Bowie would be producing the next Psychedelic Furs album (it never happened), his reaction was

"Is he? Well, I am totally jealous".

Bowie Covers

Early on in his career, Nick Cave performed some interesting selections of David Bowie songs.

According to records on a Cave web site, his first known performance of the song Andy Warhol occurred on March 3, 1978.

The last known performance was on Nov 21, 1978 at Melbourne’s Tiger Lounge where he also performed China Girl in what is his only known live performance of the song.

During a sound check for a Bad Seeds gig in Lille on 3/10/93, Cave did a cover of Lust For Life. From the same classic Bowie produced Iggy Pop album, he has also covered The Passenger.

Berlin and Hansa

In the mid 1980s, Nick Cave moved to Berlin and whilst there recorded at Hansa Studios like David Bowie before him.

In Berlin, Cave released four albums with his band the Bad Seeds:

  • The Firstborn Is Dead (1985);
  • Kicking Against the Pricks (1986);
  • Your Funeral, My Trial (1986); and
  • Tender Prey (1988)

In 2022, Cave's long term collaborator Warren Ellis talked a bit about the appeal of Bowie's Low album relative to their own work:

"Whatever you think of the sound of The Bad Seeds now, for me, it’s so important that it just doesn’t sound the same, that it’s moved on.

I always remember when I heard ‘Low’ by David Bowie.

I thought ‘What is this fucking record?’

Now, any record I have problems with, entering into, are records I keep going back to, to find out what they are."


Where Are We Now?

In 2013, Nick Cave was asked about the brand new David Bowie song:

Have you heard David Bowie’s new single? He released it on his website.

What a wonderful song!

I see Berlin before my eyes – the city West Berlin that doesn’t exist anymore.

It only took all those names of places he sang, and my whole blurry time in Berlin passed before my inner eye again.

The KaDeWe! The Potsdamer Platz! The Dschungel!

What a lyrical, beautiful song! It’s simply wonderful that he came back again.

What also pleases me is the warmth with which the people welcomed him back, after he’s been absent for so long.

I didn’t really understand the last albums he made before his long pause anymore.

So I was all the more excited about the new song.

It means something to me again.

It touches me deeply. I mean, David Bowie’s not merely a performer. He was part of our childhood. In my eyes, Bowie stands for a certain kind of immortality.

Because he was always there?

David Bowie was my idol.

I owned all his early albums and the three Berlin records of course.

I loved his music. I don’t want someone like David Bowie to die.

A song that appears out of the blue, and at his 66th birthday no less, just leaves me thoroughly happy.

When you hear the voice of a person that you love, it’s like a tender touch. And the fact that this voice did, of all things, sing about my city – that blew me away.

Have you ever met David Bowie personally?

No. But I’ve once been addressed by Bob Dylan, that will have to suffice. He probably mistook me for Nicholas Cage… or Jarvis Cocker.


In a 2019 Guardian interview, Nick Cave explained in reference to David Bowie's final years - where he was facing mortality and reaching out to connect with fans:

“In his first life, he did what many of us do and put himself forward as an individual … then later he looked for something communal and collective.

It’s what happens to us all … I think we’re united by suffering.”

The Ship Song

Nick Cave playing "The Ship Song" in 1999.