In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.
In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #5: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (by Fergus Linacre of Kingswood)
I have a difficult relationship with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Don’t be misled, the group, and all of Nick’s work has had a profound impact on my career, and even shaped in a way the person I am today. I could go on about my first experiences hearing and seeing them, how their music, and Nick’s onstage persona stunned me. But I think that’s a story you have heard before, and are perhaps familiar with yourself.
In this moment, as I sit to write about the band, I want to talk about grief. I was on a plane when I watched [2016 documentary] One More Time With Feeling. I had to stop halfway through and watch an episode of Family Guy to stop me from falling so deep into heartache that it would take a little too long to climb back out. I was on a plane when I listened to Ghosteen, I was weeping in my seat, as my bandmates slept around me. I lost my older brother some time ago, and when Nick shares his grief with us through his music, we share grief together.
“We should all be so grateful to have an artist that believes so much in the worth of art.”
As a listener, you mourn together with Nick. He says the words that you can not: “A star is just a memory of a star, we are fireflies pulsing dimly in the dark, we are here and you are where you are“. He takes his life, and the world that surrounds him and gives it to us as art. It must be so burdensome, but it is the reason he has such adoring fans.
Because his work is real, he is not trying to make hits, he does not fear critiques, he just makes music that is the truest reflection of his soul at that time, and we should all be so grateful to have an artist that believes so much in the worth of art, and gives themself to us for the purpose of art.