When Nick Cave published ghosteenthe overwhelming album dedicated to the death of his son Arthur, said the following sentence to refer to how he had begun to see the world marked by the pain of such a terrible loss: “There is a pure heart, but around it is chaos” . Ghosteen, an ambitious album made up of two parts called Los Hijos and Los Padres, was a journey in search of purity in the midst of chaos.
Nick Cave has just lost a second son, Jethro, the result of a relationship he had prior to that of his current wife, Susie, and mother of the other deceased son. Arthur was 15 years old when he died in 2015 after falling off a cliff after taking hallucinogenic drugs. Jethro, for his part, was 31 years old when it was learned on Monday that he had died, although the causes of his death have not been disclosed.
Jethro was a son of the Australian musician that not many people knew, in part because he did not appear in the acclaimed documentary. 20,000 days on Earth. In that film, Cave’s creative process was portrayed, but it also showed his family complicity with his wife Susie and their twin sons Arthur and Earle in the British town of Brighton, where the musician has lived for a few years.
Jethro was born as a helpless son of his father figure. He grew up in Australia with her mother, Beau Lazenby, and took her last name from her before her father’s. The reason? Cave took seven years to meet Jethro. Much of this absence was due to the crazy ups and downs of a musician who stood out for knowing how to viscerally lead an existence marked by excesses with drugs, torments and existential underworld.
When Jethro came into the world, his father was in a self-destructive spiral that, if nothing else, led him to create an artistic persona of great impact on the independent rock scene in the 90s. Nick Cave’s best songs were like chasms yawning in the middle of existence. They did not leave hostages. As he himself recognized: “I have two facets: one is constructive, the other tremendously destructive.” That other tremendous facet was reflected in outdated, violent, tragic and painfully poetic music. Referring to Nick Cave, who started using heroin in high school and then escalated his addiction in his early music career by mixing it with speed, cocaine and alcohol, was to recognize the most indomitable night owl with the most ghosts in the head of the city. A guy who only knew how to move on the wild side.
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Unable to be a person with his feet in an everyday life and installed in an erratic existence of road and dressing rooms full of nocturnal banes, Nick Cave ignored his son Jethro for several years, who eventually dedicated himself to cinema and fashion. Sadly, the recently deceased young man suffered from schizophrenia that pushed him to be violent with those closest to him, such as his mother and his girlfriend.
“There is a pure heart, but around it is chaos,” said Cave after the death of his son Arthur. A pure heart. After many years of biting the dust and not being able to let go of the needle and the bottle, the musician managed to recognize the existence of that heart in the middle of such a confusing world. He recognized her and also knew how to hold on to her like a shipwrecked person to a plank of wood. Cave settled in Brighton, got married, had twin sons, and made an effort to recover the relationship with his son Jethro, with whom he was seen at public events related to his catwalks or premieres.
Arthur’s death led Cave to compose one of the most harrowing albums of his career, but also of recent years in popular music. With that absorbing instrumental nebula, ghosteen, at the bottom, left a tiny gap to find the light in the dark. It was like the daydream of a living being turned into a ghost in the land of the dead to simply find a shared territory between those who are no longer there and those who are not yet gone.
ghosteen It began with this refrain screwed with sadness in spinning song: “Peace will come for us.” And he ended with this other one, also imploring in the last song Hollywood: “I’m just waiting now for peace to come.” Without beginning or end, ghosteen it was a circular disc that showed an amazing landscape of guilt, sorrow, humanity and a distant breath of redemption. Today it is more relevant than ever for Nick Cave. How do you retrace that landscape? How can one still believe in a pure heart in a land where chaos still reigns? When will peace come? That plea right now only Nick Cave knows what it weighs, what it means.