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Nick Cave Monday #23: “Hard On For Love”

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It was 1994. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were performing The Fillmore in San Francisco. I was crushed against the stage and Blixa Bargeld strummed his guitar in front of me. Midway through The Bad Seeds set I summoned the courage to yell, “Play Hard On For Love.”

“What?!” Nick walked towards me, pointing his finger. Like God striking me with leprosy for blaspheming his name. Nick glared into my eyes and I was on the spot. He actually listened and I was conversing with THE Nick Cave.

“Play Hard On For Love,” I said with more of a squeak.

“We have our set taken care of, thank you,” He replied.

Nick and I actually spoke to each other. I was so scared of him as a young worshiper. Nick Cave was God.

The song wasn’t performed live by The Bad Seeds until their 2008 tour.

Their live version had more ferocity than the recorded version on “Your Funeral, My Trial.”

The 1986 recording was a prophecy for what Nick Cave would become in future years, especially after 2007.

Nick has embraced his inner perv, the animal he is as a man….at least through his lyrics and his novel “The Death of Bunny Munro” which was about a pervy, degenerate bloke. In the hands of Nick, sex crazed literary brilliance.

Hard On For Love could have been included on the first Grinderman record in 2007 and it would have been just as fresh as “No Pussy Blues.”

The first Grinderman release had an obvious influence on the next Bad Seeds record “Dig, Lazarus, Dig” and it made sense to add Hard On For Love to their set for the live tour of the record. The song even included a lyric about Lazarus, “Coming at her like Lazarus from above.”

A song I thought I would never hear live and if it wasn’t for Grinderman, there’s a chance we wouldn’t have heard a live version of the song.

Here’s the studio version of the song:

I adore how Nick takes Psalms 23 and flips it into lyrical pornography.

The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want
The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want
But he leadeth me like a lamb to the lips
Out of the valley of the shadow of death
I am his rod and his staff
I am his scepter and shaft
And she is heaven and hell
At whose gates I ain’t been delivered
I’m going to give those gates a shove.

Psalms 23 is now a biblical chapter of horny innuendo, rewritten by Nick, who should have his lyrics included in a future bible cannon.

Maven did a cover of Hard On For Love featuring Marilyn Manson on vocals:

Well, Marilyn Manson gave it a go and picked a great song, but he may want to stick to covering acts like The Eurythmics.

When I interviewed Nick before their gig in San Francisco in 2008, I told him about our 1994 encounter.

“What did I say?” he asked.

“You said our set was taken care of.”

He laughed. “We probably didn’t know how to play the song. We’re playing it in our set now, a very aggressive version of the song.”

Nick Almighty is sweet and gracious and funny in person.

Other magical lyrics from the song:

“My aim is to hit this miss.” – “I am the fiend hid in her skirts and it’s as hot as hell in here.”

And the repeated chant, “Rise and fall her breasts, rise and fall her breasts….”

After our interview in 2008, at the Warfield theater I was at the front of the stage and about an hour into their set, Nick pointed at me and said, “This song’s for you.”

I wasn’t sure if it was really happening, I pointed at myself, “Me?”

“Yeah, you with the beard and hat.”

My friends all in the front row knew me and were excited and yelled to Nick, “His name is Tony, his name is Tony.”

Nick looked at them confused, like – leave us alone, we’re connecting here – then he went into the song. My friends didn’t know I interviewed Nick earlier that day.

It only took 14 years, but Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds finally performed my request from when I was a kid. For extra credit, he dedicated the song to me.

“It is for she that the cherry bleeds…”

Thanks for reading and come back next week for another edition of Nick Cave Monday.


Tony DuShane is the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk (Soft Skull Press). He's a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and hosts the radio show Drinks with Tony. His writing has also appeared in Mother Jones, Penthouse and The Believer. Tom Selleck is his facial hair guru. www.tonydushane.com More from this author →