Nick Cave’s song about pain and grief in Blonde

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis always work with director Andrew Dominik, so it was already known that the soundtrack for Blonde would be theirs. Interestingly the most present song on the score, Bright Horses,, was not written for the film. It’s from one of the artist’s saddest albums, 2019’s Ghosteen.

The name of the album and its songs are about grief and pain, written a few years after the death of her son, Arthur, in 2015 after falling off a cliff. At the time he was just 15 years old and Ghosteen seems to be indirectly referring to the fact, but Nick Cave never spoke about the association.

The album is divine but deeply melancholy. I always cry when I hear it, from the opening track, Spinning Song. Bright Horses comes next and is understood as a process of overcoming the pain of loss, where faith and hope are somehow the remedies.

For fans, the Bright Horses are somehow a metaphor for the spirit and memory of their son, a wild, enlightened soul whose hand the singer holds, aware that memories are all that remain now. More than anything, he sings that logic doesn’t explain anything, things are what they are, but that “it doesn’t mean we can’t believe in something”.

“We found that the pain was much more than just despair. We found that pain contained many things – happiness, empathy, similarity, sadness, anger, joy, forgiveness, combativeness, gratitude, admiration, and even a certain peace. For us, grief has become an attitude, a belief system, a doctrine – a conscious dwelling of our vulnerable selves, protected and enriched by the absence of the one we love and have lost,” the singer shared in his The Red Hand Files a few years ago, talking about the Ghosteen album. “In the end, grief is a totality. It’s washing dishes, watching Netflix, reading a book, zooming in on friends, sitting alone, or actually moving furniture. Grief is all reimagined through the world’s ever-emerging wounds. It revealed to us that we had no control over events and, as we confronted our powerlessness, we came to see that powerlessness as a kind of spiritual freedom,” he added.

Perhaps because of this aspect of spiritual freedom in Blonde, the song Bright Horses punctuates different moments in Marilyn Monroe‘s life, happy and sad. Well, there is no rest for her soul in the film, on the contrary, it is oppressive and hopeless. But surely she is the indomitable soul of light that is in the lyrics.

It’s exciting, don’t you agree?

The bright horses have broken free from the fields
They are horses of love, their manes full of fire
They are parting the cities, those bright burning horses
And everyone is hiding, and no one makes a sound
And I’m by your side and I’m holding your hand
Bright horses of wonder springing from your burning hand

And everyone has a heart and it’s calling for something
We’re all so sick and tired of seeing things as they are
Horses are just horses and their manes aren’t full of fire
The fields are just fields, and there ain’t no Lord
And everyone is hidden, and everyone is cruel
And there’s no shortage of tyrants, and no shortage of fools
And the little white shape dancing at the end of the hall
Is just a wish that time can’t dissolve at all

Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, well, this world is plain to see
It don’t mean we can’t believe in something, and anyway
My baby’s coming back now on the next train
I can hear the whistle blowing, I can hear the mighty roar
I can hear the horses prancing in the pastures of the Lord
Oh the train is coming, and I’m standing here to see
And it’s bringing my baby right back to me
Well there are some things too hard to explain
But my baby’s coming home now, on the 5:30 train

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