Ghosteen Speaks

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Songfacts®:

  • I am beside you
    Look for me


    Taken on their own, the lyrics for "Ghosteen Speaks" are quite opaque. Luckily, Cave has spoken pretty openly about what they mean. In issue 103 of The Red Hand Files, he went into the topic while answering a fan's question about the song.

    He explained that Ghosteen is the "invisible, migratory... spirit of love" and is the person speaking through Cave in the song (as opposed to Cave speaking as himself).

    Ghosteen "calls on the compassionate act of witnessing - seeing," Cave explains before going into an analysis of love as a form of acknowledging someone's existence, particularly powerful when applied to those who feel invisible in their lives. The humble recognition of another person's being there, in Cave's view, is an act of love and an act of service.

    Cave has called the first eight tracks on this album "the children" (with the last three songs being "the parents"). That makes "Ghosteen Speaks" one of the children, as it's the seventh track.
  • Cave's 15-year-old son Arthur died in 2015 after falling off of a cliff. Ghosteeen was written in the wake of the tragedy. Breaking up the title character's name would make it "ghost teen," so there may be a connection there, but Cave's never said anything definitive about that.
  • Longtime Bad Seed keyboardist Conway Savage (member since 1990) didn't perform on this one because he died of a brain tumor the same month that Cave's son died. The Ghosteen album was dedicated to him.

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