"Stranger Than Kindness" as written by and Blixa Bargeld Anita Lane....
Stranger than kindness
Bottled light from hotels
Spilling everything
Wet hand from the volcano
Sobers your skin
Stranger than Kindness

You caress yourself
And grind my soft cold bones below
Your map of desire
Burned in your flesh
Even a fool can come
A strange lit stair
And find a rope hanging there
Stranger than kindness

Keys rain like heaven's hair
There is no home there is no bread
We sit at the gate and scratch

The gaunt fruit of passion
Dies in the light
Stranger than kindness

Your sleeping hands journey
The loiter
Stranger than kindness
You hold me so carelessy close
Tell me I'm dirty
Stranger than kindness

Lyrics submitted by Girgo, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Stranger Than Kindness" as written by Blixa Bargeld Anita Lane

Lyrics © Royalty Network

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Stranger Than Kindness song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationAm I the only one that thinks this song is blatantly about prostitution? Motel rooms, the act of sex without passion, "You hold me so carelessly close" meaning the indifferent and faux affection. "even a fool can come" anyone can get it if they want, there is no sense of accomplishment in the act, only a sense of shame. Its stranger than sex out of mutual desire. Its stranger than kindness. The act is vacant, there is no home there is no bread, there is no love. Just the act. He is unable to find sex in any other way than this so he is a stranger to kindness.
    Singlefileon June 05, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI wonder if this is actually a reference to Tennessee Williams's play, 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. In it, the lead character, Blanche du Bois, goes to stay with her sister and her husband after losing the family home. She tells them she has left her job as an English teacher due to stress, but it is later revealed that she had an affair with a teenage student and, as a result, acted as a kind of prostitute in seedy hotels before being thrown out of town. Her last line in the play, to a doctor that takes her away to a mental institution, is 'Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.', so it would certainly fit with the title and lyrics.
    Prisoner.I.Wason December 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about adultery or else a man caught in a desperate loop of picking up quick fixes of prostitutes to drown his sorrows.

    for starters, the mention of hotels immediately brings to mind sordid affairs and adultery

    the song itself seems to start at climax ' spilling everything' 'the volcano' aka an 'eruption' and 'soft cold bones below'

    i think starting the song there is apt because its post sex that guilt and sadness come flooding back

    the fact that this relationship is sordid, not normal, and that there is something to hide is suggested by the fact that 'keys rain like heavens hair, there is no home there is no bread' they/he is constantly on the move and basically the whole mournful tone.

    this affair is purely sexual and seen in a negative light its a 'gaunt fruit of passion' and she holds him 'carelessly' without love...trying to initiate more sex 'tells me im dirty'

    the fact that he is still ‘a stranger to kindness’ at the end, show that this relationship does not satisfy him and leaves him an empty shell.a really haunting song that made me really sad when I read into it
    stormcloudon October 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"she holds him " ?
    You sure 'bout that? These lyrics were written by a woman, Anita Lane.
    roton November 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song makes me want to have dirty sex in a seedy motel room with a girl i've never met. And god would i love to hear this song actually sung by Anita...that would be wonderful.

    I pretty much agree with stormcloud except for the carelessly bit. In this case i think carelessly is modifying "close" in that he is holding her too closely for his own good - perhaps trying to elicit some emotional attachment from the situation which would be a careless move on his part.
    StickityWicketon July 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationFirst and foremost Stranger Than Kindness is my favorite Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song. There's a very strong sense of hopelessness and I can't ignore it. I'm not quite sure what the hopelessness is about it. Maybe it's decaying love or something from the outside that caused it. My interpretation is watching yourself or someone else deteriorating before your eyes. I don't really think it's about sex well at least not in the way others interpreted the song. Several lines lead me to believe it's hopelessness and deterioration of the self or love.

    "And find a rope hanging there"-this is a symbol of losing all hope or imminent death.

    "There is no home there is no bread
    We sit at the gate and scratch "-this is a metaphor for not being to escape

    "The gaunt fruit of passion
    Dies in the light"- the deterioration. light is often used as a symbol of life. and a gaunt fruit of passion is withering and/or the lack of being alive

    tonolighton July 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat staccato organ solo at the end is so horrifying and bizarre. Makes the song.
    PaulHacketton March 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like the line that goes "even a fool can come"

    Maybe it is from a womans perspective. I remember watching Waiting for God and Diana accuses Tom of being a fool who grinned from ear to ear proud of joining the oldest club in the world. In other words, they had se. p.s: waiting for God is a show about old people in a retirement home. lol

    yes he had sex b4 that, but not with her. and it had been years anyway.
    STUDLYCUDDLYBUDDYon July 31, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song itself is written by Anita Lane. They performed this song at The Royal Albert Hall in 1997 the 19th of May. While Nick Cave was announcing the song he said that the song is written by Anita Lane as a sort of revenge thingy towards Cave.
    moenbaseon November 03, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me this song is all about the sometimes very strange and dynamic boundary between love and sex, which can fade into and out of existence during a relationship, it can take all kinds of forms and most importantly here, can be perceived very differently by both lovers.
    The spectrum between the pure, immaculate, romantic side of love, which the singer here finds even stranger than simple kindness.
    And the steaming hot, dirty, sometimes bordering on destructive, sexual side of love, which the singer is apparently much more comfortable with.
    He is -at home- on the sexual side and the love side confuses him.

    "Bottled light from hotels, spilling everything"
    --Memories from previous sex at hotels (possibly dirty, possibly involving hookers) are present during the act,
    second line is an assossiative fade over to an ejaculation.

    "Wet Hand from the volcano, sobers your skin"
    --well yeah.. it's over, or at least time for a break i guess.

    "You caress yourself, and grind my soft cold bones below.."
    --He finished too quick? But she keeps it going for a second round.

    "Your map of desire, Burned in your flesh, Even a fool can come, A strange lit stair, And find a rope hanging there"
    --Never sure here, but I assossiate this with getting to know the partner sexually, knowing the right "buttons". And I assume he -thinks- he is an expert for hers while -thinking- she is the fool who found his penis and thinks thats it.. haha.. or maybe his "map" is really this simple.

    "Keys rain like heaven's hair"
    -- I think "key" is a verb here.. so it's like "triggers rain like heaven's hair". For me a very beautiful picture. Once these two are turned on sexually the entire setting changes, very wet, and a blessing like rain after a long drought.

    "There is no home there is no bread, We sit at the gate and scratch"
    --passionate sex can be humbling near-death experience ("La Petite mort"), these two have no "home" as in a steady relationship, they are constantly starving, only the prospect of overwhelmingly great orgasms keeps them going.

    "The gaunt fruit of passion dies in the light"
    --The mutual affection is fickle, there's not much left during daytime

    "Your sleeping hands journey they loiter"
    --A truly immaculate almost child-like interaction.. but of course it turns him on, he finds it strange

    "You hold me so carelessly close, tell me i'm dirty"
    --Again, even when she just hugs him he wants to get dirty with her

    One of my favorite songs of all time, and the only Nick Cave song that I've included in many of my mixtapes.
    Been listening to this song for 24 years now, and what it means to me changes from time to time. But I'm sure I will always love it.
    The hauntingly beautiful music, flying, weightless, never touching the ground, together with the mysteriously drawn words.. so much feeling, telling so much more than one interpretation could possibly fathom. It bares a truth beyond comprehension. Beautiful. To me, that's what life is all about.
    warokinon December 04, 2018   Link

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