Everyone has their idols at a young age. For this writer, it was Michael Jackson and Pee-Wee Herman. (Both of which didn’t do any favors for him in the early ’90s.) But for one 10-year-old in Australia, that hero is none other than Nick Cave.
In the latest installment of Cave’s online public forum The Red Hand Files, said fan, named Ptolemy, asked the gloomy singer-songwriter, “How will having your music in my life so early on affect me, and have you got any advice for me?”
That he did as the singer responded to Ptolemy with a lengthy letter titled, “Before I Received the Secret Knowledge”, which is awash with his trademark brand of age-old intuition. You know, the kind that’s made his music so affecting all these years.
Before he extrapolated on his thoughts, Cave even recalled seeing the boy at a Q&A in Hobart this past January, writing, “…if you’re the little blonde kid, who was sitting on the right side of the hall. I can’t remember exactly what I replied, but I thought more about the question after the show, and I remember wishing I had answered it better.”
Needless to say, he doubled-down on his second chance, digressing on his own upbringing as a curious child. “Listening to Bad Seeds music at your age is like having a secret knowledge,” he explained. “When I was about your age I had a secret knowledge too. My eldest brother, Tim, used to listen to a lot of very strange and obscure music and he passed this knowledge on to me.”
Cave then shared how he grew up in a rural area of Victoria, where “nobody my age listened to the music my brother played to me,” adding, “As far as I could tell they all listened to a whole lot of shit.” Clearly knowing his audience, he explained that he carried this “secret power” throughout his years in school at Melbourne, where he met friends like him, which eventually led to the creation of a band.
His final thoughts to Ptolemy are something we can all cherish:
“This secret knowledge you have is a strength that lives only inside certain people. It is a strength that will inspire you to do wondrous things – like write stories, or draw pictures, or build rockets that fly to Mars. It will give you the courage to take on anything that the world might put in front of you. It’s a wild power that can be of untold value to the world. Your name, Ptolemy, is a warrior’s name. A boy full of inspiration with a warrior’s name! The world is waiting for you. Blow ‘em away, kid.”
Read the full letter here. In related news, “Coolest Kid Ever Lives in Australia”.