"You can ask me anything," 61-year-old Cave told readers when she announced the project last September. "This will be between you and me. Let's see what happens."
What has happened has surprised even Cave: a biblical flood of letters, 100 per week, he says. Some are typical fan notes and ask about his writing process or why he admires Elvis. But others seek spiritual comfort. Cave was asked how he deals with evil, how he cope with the death of his teenage son and whether he still believes in God.
A Turn to the Community
The Red Hand Files are in many ways a companion to Cave's current "Conversations with Nick Cave" tour, which involves a spontaneous exchange between the artist and his audience. He intercepts inquiries, tells stories and answers questions from the crowd.
For an interpreter who once cultivated a detached and even threatening personality, Cave's turn to community on stage and on the Internet is remarkable.
The Red Hand Files are sent weekly to inboxes around the world in space or space or even nuance. "
" I also get a lot of mail today from people in difficult situations, and I feel like I have some experiences that I can pass on.
"I felt very strongly that a feeling of suffering was the connective tissue that held us all together," Cave said in Red Hand Files # 2. "Without being hyperbolic, this sense of collective love has saved my life. It is a transcendent circle that seems to be getting stronger and stronger. It is religious.
Religiously Educated Rock'n Roll
Cave with his pointed black shoes, shiny black suit and sternum – Sometimes he looks like a fallen preacher or like one nihilistic bible salesman in a Flannery O & Connor story.
On stage, he growls and struts like a shaman, and his former band, the Birthday Party, was known for Cave, a former addict who once said he could " Write the Michelin Guide to Detoxification Centers. "
Cave's music may also be dark: his first big hit was a murder ballad, a newer tune imagines a resurrected Lazarus in modern America and lands in the madhouse.
But Cave has long been one of the most religious rock & # 39; n & # 39; 39; Rolls educated songwriters. He keeps a bust of Jesus and a Bible open to the Gospel of John on his piano. Cave himself wrote in 1998 for a British publisher an introduction to Mark's gospel. He is the rare rock star who wrote a love song titled "I do not believe in an interventionist god / But I know, darling, you do."
In his punk rock days, Cave was obsessed with the gothic drama and the angry God of the Old Testament.
"I was a guide for a god who spoke in a language written in bile and puke," said Cave. "And for a while, that suited me well."
But then, says Cave, he picked up the Gospels.
"The voice that spoke through me now was softer, sadder, more thoughtful."
& # 39; I felt operated & # 39;
The grown-up Anglican said he had almost given up organized religion, yet he longs for a world of magic and awe.
Like many artists, his spirituality is idiosyncratic and undogmatic. He believes that humans are hardwired for transcendence that can be accessed through creativity and imagination.
But 61-year-old Cave, who now lives in Brighton and Los Angeles with his wife Susie Bick, seems more interested in finding a definitive theology than looking for it. Cave media representative Chris Goodman said the musician was not available for an interview. he prefers to let the letters speak for themselves.
"He's not pushing for the & # 39; Nick Cave Rules & # 39 ;, Woodbury said. He gives people the tools to deepen and find the answers for themselves. He really seems interested in helping them on their journey.
A few weeks ago, Cave responded to a father of three boys from Australia, The musician agreed that the endless negativity available online can "undermine our souls and the souls of our children."
But then Cave persuaded the anxious father to reconsider his apocalyptic despair and gave the example of his own family.
"I always have it as a sort of parental duty to show my own children beautiful things so doi ng reveal an alternative world to them, "he wrote.
" I felt served, "Woodbury said after reading Cave's answer to his father," that's the only word I can describe. It's a trusted authority person who sits down next to you and says, 'Listen, I know things are bleak, but it's in your own interest to keep your eyes on what's beautiful and sustainable ,
Woodbury is not the only one who appreciates Cave's approach.
How God's Voice Sounds
Last month, a fan called Rute asked from Portugal Cave, as the voice of God sounds, Does God even have a voice, or is the divinity heard in any other way? Perhaps God sounds a bit like Nick Cave, suggested Rute.
"I hope the voice of God is something other than booming, authoritarian and masculine, "Cave replied," Would not that be a pleasant surprise? "
The musician offered his own attitude to God's voice, and in the recording studio, he said, sometimes the purest and most beautiful choruses in e emerge in cacophony with different vocals. Maybe God's voice sounds like that, offered Cave.
"Perhaps God would have the united voice of all the billions of gathered souls, a gathering of the deceased as a speech – without rage, domination or division, a great, multi-layered call that rings out of heaven in the small, determined voice of one Child, maybe sexless, pure and uncomplicated – that says, 'Find me, I'm here.' "
Then Cave finished the letter as usual: "All right, Nick. "