Nick Cave shares his thoughts on songs getting 'cancelled': "I like the fact that some songs are controversial enough to be outlawed"

Nick Cave
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Nick Cave has weighed in on the cancel culture debate, offering his thoughts on songs that get 'cancelled'. 

On the latest post on his blog Red Hand Files, the singer responds to a fan who asks for his opinion on Tom Jones' classic 1986 hit Delilah being recently removed from the Welsh Rugby Union’s (WRU) official playlists and banned at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The song - written by English songwriters Barry Mason and Les Reed, and awarded an Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically in 1968 - is considered controversial as it depicts themes of domestic violence, as central character 'Delilah' gets stabbed by her jealous husband after witnessing her flirting with another man. The husband then seeks forgiveness from her dead corpse.

Speaking of the censorship of Delilah in a statement, a Principality Stadium spokesperson offered: “The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.”

On Cave's Q&A site, a fan questions: "How do you feel about the banning of the song Delilah sung by Welsh choirs at the Rugby? As someone who has written many murder ballads, do you think these sort of songs turn people into murderers?".

In response, after quipping that listening to the Welsh choir performing the song "made me feel like murdering someone", adding that he found the track itself "disturbing", Cave declares: "I can’t get too animated by the fact that Delilah has been banned. I understand there is a principle here, but on some level I like the fact that some songs are controversial enough to be outlawed. It fills me with a kind of professional pride to be a part of the sometimes contentious business of songwriting."

He continues, "It’s cool. I like it. I just wish it was a more worthy song to be awarded that greatest of honours, indeed that supreme privilege, of being banned".

Earlier in the response, Cave speaks of his kinship for Tom Jones in spite of his dislike for the track, stating: "I sang a duet with him (Green, Green Grass Of Home – a far superior murder ballad) at a charity event a few years ago, and I like his version of Weeping Annaleah which The Bad Seeds recorded on our Kicking Against The Pricks album.

"As someone who knows a thing or two about murder ballads, for my taste, [Delilah is] all too waltzy and strident and hammy and mariachi and triumphant. And the words are ugly – 'I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more‘. Really? […]'".

Yesterday, (February 13), Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds shared concert footage from their 2013 show in Los Angeles to mark the 10th anniversary of their album Push The Sky Away.

To mark the announcement, they shared a live video of Mermaids alongside a clip of how the album was made.

The band have also launched a new website dedicated to the record's anniversary, featuring with video clips, audio, photographs, lyrics and exclusive merchandise. 

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.