It’s good to be reminded sometimes that the media circus most of us are so fascinated by is merely a chaotic show designed for fleeting entertainment and means very little in the long run. And who better to remind us all of that than the creative genius Nick Cave? In the above video, singer Kylie Minogue beautifully reads a rejection letter that Cave penned on October 21, 1996 after hearing of his MTV Best Male Artist award nomination. In the note, the Australian musician kindly thanks MTV for supporting his ninth Bad Seeds album, Murder Ballads, but requests for his nomination to be withdrawn. He goes on to ask that in the future, they reserve their selections for artists who may feel more comfortable with the “competitive nature” of the ceremonies.
“I have always been of the opinion that my music is unique and individual and exists beyond the realms inhabited by those who would reduce things to mere measuring. I am in competition with no-one,” wrote Cave, basically dropping the proverbial mic.
MTV had essentially ignored Cave’s expansive 20-year career prior to Murder Ballads, but played the video for “Where the Wild Roses Grow” very heavily that year as if he was new to the scene. The multi-talented frontman has never been shy regarding his discomfort with the type of spotlight that MTV shone on him at that time, and is proof that one can opt out of the attention if they wish.
“My relationship with my muse is a delicate one at the best of times and I feel that it is my duty to protect her from influences that may offend her fragile nature. She comes to me with the gift of song and in return I treat her with the respect I feel she deserves—in this case this means not subjecting her to the indignities of judgement and competition,” the letter states. “My muse is not a horse and I am in no horse race and if indeed she was, still I would not harness her to this tumbrel—this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes. My muse may spook! May bolt! May abandon me completely!”
Photo Credit: 20,000 Days on Earth
Minogue’s reading of the letter is especially poignant since she was the second half of the “Where the Wild Roses Grow” duet. The video is part of the ongoing Letters Live project, which celebrates the power of written correspondence by asking talented performers to read them. The letter can also be seen in Letters of Note, a book put together by Shaun Usher that features notes penned by the likes of Iggy Pop, Leonardo da Vinci, Zelda Fitzgerald, Anaïs Nin and Roald Dahl.