“Into My Arms” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

“Into My Arms” is an interesting piece in that in the chorus, we witness the vocalist addressing the “Lord”, even though as indicated in the first two verses, Nick Cave isn’t necessarily a believer.

But the addressee, i.e. the woman he is in love with, apparently is. So in a way, it’s as if he is speaking from her viewpoint. In that regard, what Cave is putting forth is twofold. First is that he considers this lady to be perfect. And he’s is basically blessing her, i.e. wishing his sweetheart divine favor, if in fact angels and the such actually exist.

What it is that the vocalist does “believe in”, as explicitly stated in the third verse, is “love”. Along those lines, he seems convinced that he and the addressee are mutually smitten. And relatedly, Nick also expresses a belief “in some kind of path” the two of them can traverse together. 

So in regards to the unseen controller of the universe, he is basically asking for his sweetheart to be guided spiritually, not only in “(making) her journey bright and pure” but also so that “she’ll keep returning, always and evermore”.

Inspiration for “Into My Arms”

If all of the above sounds hella convoluted for a love song, it has been suggested, first of all, that it was inspired by Nick divorcing his first wife, that being Viviane Carneiro, with such transpiring in 1996, i.e. the year this track was dropped. 

But as for “The Boatman’s Call”, which is the album “Into My Arms” is derived from, it has been put forth that said LP was also influenced by his romance with fellow musician PJ Harvey, whom Cave briefly dated concurrently, with the two of them parting ways in 1997. 

And Nick himself has reportedly explained that he wrote this song while in a sleepless state of sickness due to suffering from drug withdrawal, which may explain the lyrical inconsistencies that are present.

But also, as for the vocalist appearing wishy-washy from a religious perspective, Cave has personally described himself as someone who “fluctuate(s) from day to day” when it comes to believing in God. That would clarify why initially he sounds like an atheist but by the time all is said and done goes about acknowledging the existence of “Christ” and the “Lord”.

In Conclusion

So all things considered, one reasonable conclusion we can provide is that since this track was dropped very early in 1997, then it was most likely influenced by Cave’s divorce from Carneiro, not his separation from Harvey. 

Furthermore, religious references aside, if this narrative is a reflection of that event, then its thesis sentiment revolves around, most simply put, the vocalist wishing his ex well as she prepares to go her separate way. 

On top of that, as the third verse implies, he is hoping that at some point in the future they will reunite and have a more, may we say enlightened relationship than they did at first.

All in all, we can classify this song as a beautiful love song from someone who is a non-believer to a special person in his life who is a believer.

Lyrics to "Into My Arms"

Is Nick Cave directly talking to God in the Chorus?

When you listen carefully to the song, it appears as though Nick isn’t directly addressing the Lord in the chorus. The “Oh Lord” phrase he uses after each line in the chorus seems more like it is being used as an exclamation to express his strong emotion. But is this really the case? Is Nick actually addressing the Most High, even though he states from the beginning that he is not a believer?

In the first verse, we find him saying that if he did believe in God, he would ask Him to direct the addressee right into his arms. Owing to this, it becomes apparent that in the chorus that instantly follows, he is still in the hypothetical situation where he is addressing God hypothetically. Simply put, here, he is saying something along the following hypothetical lines:

“If I believed in God, I would ask him to leave her the way she is because she is perfect.”

“If I believed in God, I would ask Him to direct her into my arms.”

But is that really what is happening? The thing with this song is that one of it’s subthemes is Cave’s on-again/off-again faith, when you take his real-life religious leanings into consideration. 

It might be possible that Nick is literally addressing God. Cave, by his own admission, is the type to believe in God one day and not believe the next. And that’s also how the vocalist is apparently presented, as being an atheist in the verses but a believer in the chorus, if you will.

People like that only tend to turn to God, if even they don’t necessarily believe in Him, when things go really bad. In this case, we find the vocalist going through a divorce, which is a harrowing emotional experience. 

Facts about “Into My Arms”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is a long-standing rock act from Melbourne, the capital of Australia. 

“Into My Arms”, which was introduced to store shelves on 27 January 1997, acted as the lead single from the album titled “The Boatman’s Call”. This album marked the group’s 10th studio album. 

This song was written exclusively by Nick Cave. The production, on the other hand, is credited to Nick and The Bad Seeds, as well as prominent behind-the-scenes’ British rocker Flood.

There have been a number of Bad Seeds’ members throughout the years. But at the juncture in which this song was dropped, Nick Cave was backed by the following:

  • Blixa Bargeld
  • Martyn P. Casey
  • Warren Ellis
  • Mick Harvey
  • Jim Sciavunos
  • Thomas Wydler
  • Conway Savage  

And just to note, bassist Casey, drummer Wydler, percussionist Sciavunos and violinist Ellis, as well as Nick Cave, are still down with the band as of 2022.

This stands as an outstanding song in Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ catalog in terms of critical reception. And it did okay chart-wise, most notably breaking the top 10 of the Norwegian Singles Chart. Additionally, “Into My Arms” went on to be certified silver in the UK as recently as 2022.

Amongst the known artists who have covered this song is Roger Daltry of The Who fame, who did so in 2018.

The music video to this track was directed by Jonathan Glazer.

Into My Arms

“Into My Arms” in Movies and TV Shows

The track was featured in the following movies:

  • Mystery comedy film, “Zero Effect” (1998).
  • Apocalyptic film, “On the Beach” (2000)
  • Comedy-drama film, “He Died with a Felafel in His Hand” (2001).
  • Crime film, “Gettin’ Square” (2003).
  • 2013 British romantic drama, “About Time”.

In addition, many TV series have featured “Into My Arms”. Some notable TV appearances include:

  • Season 1, episode 9 of 2004 American drama, “The L Word”.
  • Australian detective drama, “City Homicide” featured the track in the 5th episode of the 1st series in 2007.
  • Series 4, episode 7 of British teen comedy drama, “Skins” in 2010.
  • American science fiction-horror thriller, “The Mist” played the track in Series 1, episode 8 in 2017.
  • At the end of the Fifth episode of Second Season of British sitcom “Uncle” in 2015.
  • Ricky Gervais featured the track in the 3rd episode of his 2019 series, “After Life”.
  • 2019 science fiction series, “War of the Worlds”.
  • Closing credits of Australian black comedy-crime drama, “Mr Inbetween”, season 3, episode 6 2021.

Notable Covers

American indie singer-songwriter Eliza Rickman included her cover in her second solo album “O, You Sinners” in 2012.

Norwegian vocalist Ane Brun released her version for her 8th album “Leave Me Breathless” in 2017.

American singers/songwriters and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer covered this song in 2017.

In 2018, American rock band Band of Horses released their version.

American artist Hayden Dunham gave “Into My Arms” an electronic feel in 2022.

Reactions from Fans

This heartfelt track has dug a special place in the hearts of fans who have lost their loved ones. The stories shared by them are bound to bring about the tissue box.

One shared with the world how she lost her beloved brother to suicide. According to her, not a day passes by that she doesn’t miss him dearly. Whenever she hears “Into My Arms” play, it feels like her deceased brother is hugging her and providing her the comfort she needs.

The little sister of another fan was diagnosed with cancer and passed on within a few weeks. “Into My Arms” was chosen as the funeral song by her brother as it said everything that was needed to be said.

A fan who lost both their parents shared how they’re missed everyday and yearns to hold them again. This track has made them feel understood and that they’re not alone as they go through these emotions.

One fan has described this song as the purest love song of all time. He calls it a touching and spiritual love song from a non-believer narrator to his believer significant other.

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