Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand (Official Video) + Commentary

20,994,680 views Mar 13, 2010

Red Right Hand is a brilliant video and the fact it's shot in black and white is part of the genius that makes it extremely watchable. Initially depicted are a nice little family having tea accompanied by extremely sinister lyrics, setting the scene for the horror to come. Whilst the family is going about its daily routine and preparing for bed events are unfolding un-beknown to them; it really is classic horror. I don't know about you but I'm afraid of this guy who, as the song says, is likely to pop up in your daydreams- never mind your nightmares. There are so many images woven throughout this video, especially during the musical interlude towards the end where it reaches the crechendo. The red right hand man is in the house going through everyone's things while the music literally bops and weaves at a very rhythmic and 'stalkerish' pace. This really is a mini masterpiece. I advise re-watching Red Right Hand several times in order to fully appreciate the powerful impact it has and to identify those images. I think the fox in the picture seems to swallow the  swan and then we see something being hacked to bits with a saw(the swan?) Juices spurt over the little girl's drawing and their are feathers everywhere; indoors and outdoors. I would love to know more about the creation of this video which is highly imaginative.

Please bear with me while I digress slightly for a moment and visit Desert Island Discs, a programme on BBC Radio 4 in which a guest celebrity speaks with the presenter about the following items they would choose if they were stranded on a desert island- quite a concept to build a show around. It's an interesting challenge given that we live in a world of abundance and this is purely fictional. Have a think for yourself. You can choose 8 music tracks, 1 book and 1 luxury item- good luck! 

I would find this extremely difficult. What I do know is that Red Right Hand is top of my list for music. I have stuck by this record for many years as it is woven into my personal life experience. Red Right Hand was with me in my dark days: to find out more about that period see, 'Its Braap! The ABC from conception to today.' I listened to this song constantly and envisioned it acted out in full colour- very differently from the video. I used to describe this song as a mini musical due to its flow. I think there is something very mystical about a red right hand that lends itself to interpretation. Finishing off, for me, the book is also easy. I have met Carlos Acosta twice and read his autobiography twice too. 'No Way Home,' is incredibly emotional and shows how mentally and physically strong Carlos is. On a personal note, I was struck by how much time he gives to his fans even after a gruelling show. As to the luxury item- my laptop wouldn't last a day without electricity, so let's not waste time on that.

I have admired Nick Cave for many years and he is an artist with a very distinctive style. Back in the day I wondered whether he had Irish origins due to his phenomenal story telling ability, however, I've since discovered that he's Australian- Yes, I know he dated Kylie Minogue and allegedly said some pretty damning things about her, but I guess it's easy to date anyone when you're a star who is jetting around the world like other stars- and I was unaware that they came from the same continent (OH NO- the theme song from neighbours is buzzing in my head.) 

Red Right Hand stands alone as lyrics, being very powerful. It is a story within a specific setting focussing on a chain of events. These lyrics got me thinking. The part below really struck me and I was left wondering whether we are speaking about self-sabotage to some extent- those times when we allow our fears to paralyze us and prevent us from taking progressive action. When you think about it, we all have a dark and a light side, we expand and we shrink. Above all, we have an inner being whom we can listen to or ignore- choices, choices, choices.

'He'll wrap you in his arms
Tell you that you've been a good boy
He'll rekindle all the dreams
It took you a lifetime to destroy
He'll reach deep into the hole
Heal your shrinking soul
But there won't be a single thing that you can do'

I think it's fair to say that Nick experienced his own devils, especially having been a heroin addict for many years. It is highly likely that this influenced the dark material Nick expertly produced with his bandmates. Thankfully he was able to overcome his addiction with the help of Narcotics Anonymous, following the twelve step programme. This is something Nick has in common with brilliant comedian Russell Brand, now a family man who, besides attending professional engagements, hosts his own YouTube channel where he  has spoken about the recovery process.

I am not sure at which point Nick successfully conquered his addiction, but he definitely gives all the credit to Narcotics Anonymous and says if it wasn't for them he wouldn't have made a success of it. Nick went to regular meeting in 1988 whilst writing and recording a new album, 'Tender Prey,' which was recorded with his band The Bad Seeds- their 5th studio album. The description of this album seems to resonates with challenges Nick would have faced at that time. Narcotics anonymous is a Non-profit organisation set up in 1953 by primary founder Jimmy Kinnon. 

So what do we know about the Red Right Hand? The term Red Right Hand originated in the poem, 'Paradise Lost.' Whilst I thought of it in relation to the devil, evidently John Milton assigned the term to God's red right hand- the hand that could strike vengeance at the devil! This is so very different from my perception based on the portrayal in this song. I conjured up a 'fires of hell image.' Similarly, the phrase, 'caught red handed,' is a very popular term to describe a dishonourable act- so no wonder there seems to be some confusion. Apparently, a certain amount of mystery surrounded the Red Right Hand's use as theme song for popular show Peaky Blinders so they decided to change it.

Final facts: Red Right Hand was written in 1994 by Nick Cave along with bandmates Mick Harvey and Thomas Wydler. Thomas Wydler has been the Bad Seeds drummer since 1985 and Mick Harvey, multi- instrumentalist, played with them from 1983-2009. Zooming forwards to the present, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are about to start their Summer Tour '22, commencing in Germany. Please check their official website for the tour schedule, further information and music.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician