Nick Cave has explained why he does not write protests songs.
Answering fans’ questions in his Red Hand Files, in the face of a global protest movement over racism and police brutality, Cave spoke to a fan who asks whether he ever wishes his own music had been more politically outspoken.
Politics exist in Nick Cave’s music, the same way politics exist in everything. But it’s true that Cave’s music tends to be internal rather than external, and he gives a layered response to the question.
Songs with political agendas inhabit a different space. They have little patience for nuance, neutrality or impartiality. Their aim is to get the message across in as clear and persuasive a manner as possible. There can be great value in these sorts of songs, but they are usually born from a particular combination of rigidity and zealousness, which I personally do not possess. My songs seem to be resistant to fixed, inflexible points of view. They have, as you say, a concern for common, non-hierarchical suffering. They are not in the business of saving the world; rather they are in the business of saving the soul of the world…
I guess I could write a protest song, but I think I would, in the end, feel compromised in doing so, not because there aren’t things I am fundamentally opposed to — there are — but because I would be using my particular talents to deal with something I consider to be morally obvious. Personally, I have little inclination to do that. It’s just not what I do.
You can read Cave’s full response here