Nick Cave Monday #48: “Red Right Hand”


When the bell chimes a man emerges from the shadows. Or it’s a ghost who wants to haunt your soul. Or it’s a guru to give you enlightenment for your path. Or it’s a god.

There’s really no salvation with this murky character spoken of in “Red Right Hand”, only the journey that Nick takes us on.

What do you need? Sign the paper right there. Yep, that just might be your soul. Ah, listen to the bells:

The Bad Seeds are in your nightmares. What a lovely video.

I believe that’s James Johnston from Gallon Drunk at the 1:46 mark. James wasn’t an official Bad Seed yet, but he did tour with the band in 1994. The studio stuff came later. And if you haven’t checked out Gallon Drunk yet, you must, they are recording a new record now and the last two have been absolutely brilliant.

Back to this week’s song, there’s a journey the man takes essentially to the wrong side of the tracks. I’m not sure if that term still makes sense since I have lived in my bubble of San Francisco for a bit too long, but in suburban life the wrong side of town is well documented in the film Pretty In Pink (watch out, Molly Ringwald cries A LOT in that film)….it was always about what side of the train tracks or the major street that you lived on that determined if you were rich or poor.

I was on the wrong side of El Camino most of my life growing up, but I dressed well.

I wish there was a man with a Red Right Hand, at least there would have been some reward….I mean, I found out years ago how dignity is so overrated.

Did you ever think you would see Russell Crowe go all giddy on Nick Cave? Nick is the man, and if you don’t think so, Russell will throw a phone at you. As he should.

“Red Right Hand” was essentially a song that catapulted the Bad Seeds to more of a mainstream audience. It has been used in a bunch of films and I’m sure it went further than Nick had ever dreamed. It continues to be a staple of a Bad Seeds set…..right there with “The Mercy Seat”, “Tupelo” and “Deanna.”

On the first chime from Jim Sclavunos the audience cheers like Pavlof’s dog. And we have Jim Johnston on the 2004 tour.

Drool for your Bad Seeds you Bad Seeders:

The lesson we learn today is that even if it feels good, sounds good, looks good, you better make sure you didn’t set yourself up for a future of woe.

“You ain’t go no self-respect, you feel like an insect
Well, don’t you worry, buddy, ’cause here he comes.”

Extra credit “Thirsty Dog”:

Unfortunately this brilliant song doesn’t make the live set too often. Hint, hint Nick.

The Thirsty Dog was the name of a pub in Prague. Or it was translated in English to The Thirsty Dog. Something. I can’t remember. The live song above is a shortened version of the actual song.

Sometimes men do some stupid shit. But we’re still beautiful beasts. We’re sorry, we’ll pay for all the damages.

“I’m sorry it’s just rotten luck
I’m sorry I’ve forgotten how to fuck
It’s just that I think my heart and soul are kind of famished.”

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

There are four Nick Cave Mondays left.

Tony DuShane is the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk. His writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Penthouse, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Believer. And, if you’re a Nick Cave fan, check out Nick Cave Monday. More from this author →