Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Nick Cave’s latest album, Ghosteen, is a eulogy for his 15-year-old son Arthur who died after falling from the Ovingdean Gap near Brighton, England. The last song on the double album, the 14-minute “Hollywood”, ends with the story of Kisa Gotami, the mother who asks Buddha for help with her dying baby. Buddha tells her to collect a mustard seed from every house in the village where no one has died. Kisa never gathers a single seed. Cave’s final eulogy, sung in falcetto, becomes a mournful cry that deeply enriches the meaning of the Buddhist story. Though Cave is probably not a Buddhist—indeed, he makes references to other religions on the album—his rendition of the Buddhist story is among the finest examples of the way that art powerfully conveys its depth of meaning.