“That was a song called ‘West Country Girl’. It is a love song. It began, in its innocence, as a poem written about two years ago in Australia where the Sun shines. I wrote it with my heart in my mouth, detailing in list form the physical details that drew me toward a particular person, the West Country Girl. It set forth my own personal criteria of beauty, my own particular truth about beauty—as angular, cruel and impoverished as it probably was. It was a list of things I loved and, in truth, a wretched exercise in flattery designed to win the girl. And it worked. And it didn’t. But the peculiar magic of a love song, if it has the heart to do it, is that it endures when the object of the song does not. It attaches itself to you, and together you move through time. But it does more than that. For just as it is our task to move forward, to cast off our past, to change and to grow, in order to forgive ourselves and each other, the love song holds within it an eerie intelligence all of its own to reinvent the past and to dump it at the feet of the present.
“‘West Country Girl’ began in innocence and in sunshine as a simple poem about a girl, but it has done what all true love songs must do in order to survive: it has demanded the right to its own identity, its own life, its own truth. I have seen it grow and mutate with time. It presents itself now as a cautionary tale, as a list of ingredients in a witch’s brew; it reads as a coroner’s report or a message on a sandwich board worn by a wild-eyed man that states ‘THE END OF THE WORLD IS AT HAND’. It is a hoarse voice in the dark, that croaks, ‘Beware! Beware! Beware!’”
—Nick Cave, “The Secret Life of the Love Song”