Nick Cave has written a moving tribute to his former partner and collaborator Anita Lane, whose death was announced on Wednesday. In a new letter for his The Red Hand Files, Cave called her, “The smartest and most talented of all of us, by far.”
Lane first met Cave in 1977 in Melbourne, Australia. They dated for about ten years, and during that time she co-wrote numerous songs for his bands The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds. Fans knew Cave and Lane had stayed at least somewhat in touch after their breakup, and in addition to pursuing a solo career, she occasionally reunited with The Bad Seeds, as when she sang on their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Death Is Not The End” for 1996’s Murder Ballads. Now, Cave has confirmed that they stayed connected all these years later, writing, “Two months ago, speaking to her on the phone she seemed a million miles away.”
“You think you know grief,” he said. “You think you’ve worked out its mechanics, you think you’ve become grief-savvy — stronger, wiser, more resilient — you think that there is nothing more that can hurt you in this world, and then Anita dies.”
But most of his tribute is given over to marveling at her forceful personality and creative brilliance. He remembers seeing her, “Standing on the street in a baby-doll dress, surrounded by sunshine, laughing and radiating a piercing beauty of such force you stop breathing.”
Cave praised her songwriting, saying, “She was the brains behind The Birthday Party, wrote a bunch of their songs, wrote ‘From Her to Eternity’, ‘The World’s a Girl’, ’Sugar in a Hurricane’ and my favourite Bad Seeds song, ‘Stranger Than Kindness’, but was much more than that.”
He continued, “It was both easy and terrifying to love her,” and added that her death, “Leaves a big, crying space.” Check out the full tribute over at his website.