Anita Lane, Singer-Songwriter Who Co-Wrote Celebrated Nick Cave Songs, Dies at 62

Chris Willman
·3-min read

Anita Lane, an Australian singer-songwriter known for collaborating with Nick Cave and the Birthday Party as well as her own recordings, has died at 62.

Cave paid tribute on social media, tweeting, “From her to eternity” — a perhaps inevitable eulogy, given that the song that went by that title was her most famous co-write and one of the most celebrated songs by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

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Lane first collaborated with Cave when he was a member of the Birthday Party. She was a classmate of the Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard and ended up co-penning several songs for that band, going on to co-write with Cave after that, too, with songs including not just “From Her to Eternity,” “A Dead Song,” “Kiss Me Black” and “Dead John,” but “Stranger Than Kindness,” a Bad Seeds standout for which she wrote all the lyrics. (Cave named a recent book after that song.)

Her solo career began with the 1988 EP “Dirty Songs,” followed by two albums, 1993’s “Dirty Pearls” and 2001’s “Sex O’Clock,” before she seemed to retreat from public life.

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“Lane’s first solo album ‘Dirty Pearl’ was released in 1993, a time in popular music when female singer-songwriters were beginning to reclaim the sexual narrative,” critic Eleanor Philpot wrote in a reassessment of her music in The Quietus earlier this year. “‘Dirty Pearl’ was aligned with this sexual revolution but also separate from it. While Lane’s work explored similar themes, namely lust and love, she was much more focused on the spiritual, demonstrating how sex and romantic relationships could help develop a knowledge of an individual’s truest self.” Like other upstart artists of that period, Philpot wrote, “her music was a middle finger to the patriarchy, but unlike them, Lane refused to deny her stereotypical feminine qualities in doing so, instead exploring how her capacity to experience sex and love from a female viewpoint led to richer experiences. … Lane considered the greater implications of how female fragility plays out in romantic relationships with a scholarly awareness, allowing herself (and her listeners) to find a way out of the darkness and towards emotional strength.”

Lane also collaborated with Einstürzende Neubauten, Mick Harvey (on a Serge Gainsbourgh tribute album), Kid Congo Powers, Die Haut and Barry Adamson (on their cover of “These Boots Were Made For Walkin'”).

Harvey posted a photo of himself and Lane on Instagram with 43 heart emojis, “one for every year I’ve loved you.”

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Born in 1958 in Melbourne, Lane was a 17-year-old student at that city’s Victorian College of the Arts when Howard introduced her to a then-19-year-old Cave and they soon began a romantic as well as creative relationship that lasted from the late ’70s into the early 1980s. Even after their breakup, she continued to contribute to songs and performances for a while, including an appearance on the “Murder Ballads” album.

After her final album in 2001, Lane disappeared from the music scene and was said to have settled into domestic life with her family.

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