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Red Right Hand Lyrics

Artist: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Album: Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Take a litle walk to the edge of town
Go across the tracks
Where the viaduct looms,
like a bird of doom
As it shifts and cracks
Where secrets lie in the border fires,
in the humming wires
Hey man, you know
you're never coming back
Past the square, past the bridge,
past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
In a dusty black coat with
a red right hand

He'll wrap you in his arms,
tell you that you've been a good boy
He'll rekindle all the dreams
it took you a lifetime to destroy
He'll reach deep into the hole,
heal your shrinking soul
Hey buddy, you know you're
never ever coming back
He's a god, he's a man,
he's a ghost, he's a guru
They're whispering his name
through this disappearing land
But hidden in his coat
is a red right hand

You ain't got no money?
He'll get you some
You ain't got no car? He'll get you one
You ain't got no self-respect,
you feel like an insect
Well don't you worry buddy,
cause here he comes
Through the ghettos and the barrio
and the bowery and the slum
A shadow is cast wherever he stands
Stacks of green paper in his
red right hand

(Organ solo)

You'll see him in your nightmares,
you'll see him in your dreams
He'll appear out of nowhere but
he ain't what he seems
You'll see him in your head,
on the TV screen
And hey buddy, I'm warning
you to turn it off
He's a ghost, he's a god,
he's a man, he's a guru
You're one microscopic cog
in his catastrophic plan
Designed and directed by
his red right hand

(Organ solo)

Extra verse from DJ Spooky Remix (From Scream 2 Soundtrack):
He'll extend his hand, real slowly for a shake
You'll see it coming toward you, real slowly for a shake
(Grabbing at your peril buddy?) cause you know you ain't
getting near much as he will take.

He's a...

He's mumbling words you can't understand
He's mumbling word behind his red right hand.


by gabriel on 6/18/2008 12:25am
wut the hell is this song about?
by Brown left hand on 6/24/2008 10:34pm
He's singin' about the evils of the false preachers of Jesus!
by Lolwut on 7/6/2008 10:51pm
Hes singing about the devil. The song is adapted from a poem called paradise lost. its about the war between god and satan, the fall of man from eden and such. The "Red right hand" is a direct qoute from it.
by mike on 7/13/2008 4:49am
according to paradise lost, satan supposedly weilds a red right hand
by Hellboy on 7/15/2008 2:49pm
you ever see the movie Hellboy! this song is in the soundtrack!
by Ashley on 8/9/2008 12:27am
The devil? I thought it was about a like... gunslinger. -shrug-
by CSM on 8/10/2008 8:39am
In my own mind, he is speaking of so-called "extraordinary men." Look up the Cigarette-Smoking Man, a fictional character from The X-Files.
by diane on 8/11/2008 8:31am
its obvious hes talking about the devils red right hand if you listen to other Nick Cave songs it gets mentioned quite often.Red right hand from Paradise Lost
by CSM on 8/13/2008 1:19pm
not disputing that, but the song also lends itself to the Smoking Man.
by Nick Cave on 9/4/2008 12:04am
Actually, it is about a man with a birthmark on his hand going to buy a trenchcoat in a gentlemans outfitters next to a church
by Jon on 9/4/2008 10:45am
It is indeed from Paradise Lost.


It is God, not the Devil, who has a red right hand.

Paradise is indeed lost.
by malachi on 9/12/2008 6:42am
you guys keep on talkin about things you dont even understand
by Justice on 10/13/2008 3:53pm
Malachi needs to get slapped with a red right hand!
by calambre on 10/16/2008 8:35pm
nice song!!
nick cave is a master

great post justice
by The Devil on 10/23/2008 9:07pm
I fucked a millionairess to this song.
by The Devil (but better) on 10/31/2008 12:33pm
i fuck millionairess' all the time. and their mothers...
by The Devil (but best) on 11/3/2008 6:55am
I'm actually a millionairess, and I fuck myself.
by sisters of mercy on 11/13/2008 2:20pm
he's talking about our Conscience...whoever or whatever it may be. that 'one' that leads us to say, do or die...
by karate kick ya in the face on 11/26/2008 2:19pm
this song is covered in hellboy by pete yorn
by Ildrin on 12/5/2008 4:02pm
Khaine, the bloody handed god, Eldar and Elves
by amcaat on 12/7/2008 12:58pm
i'm with somercy on this one. the paradise lost reference doesn't take away from the listeners ability to imagine this character as a "bad business decision", a criminal enterprise (like a gang) or even as Suge Knight.
by liz on 12/7/2008 2:07pm
i just looked it up cuz its in hellboy
and hellboy is the shit
and my name is actually liz im not just putting a fake name so im like hb's gf lol....
just wanted to clarify
good day
by teOp on 12/11/2008 11:59pm
me thinks it abouta child abuser
by Devil Jones on 12/14/2008 7:57pm
I know it's from "Paradise lost" but i like to think that he's talking about false comunists hidding a fascist "red right hand" under their clothes.
by Whats going on? on 12/17/2008 5:59pm
the song was in other movies besides Hellboy. The song is the main theme in all of the Scream movies by Wes Craven
by The Darkness on 12/18/2008 10:38pm
It's about the Devil, Paradise lost, Satan giving man his desires, It's About the Anti-hero.
by Heyguy on 1/3/2009 9:47am
The song is referring to the man murdering someone. The red on his hand is referring to blood while never coming back refers to dying. He's feared in the land because he is a murderer
by jay sixual on 1/15/2009 10:29am
I just saw him live in Brisbane today, he is a god himself. But it is obviously a reference to Paradise Lost and also references any kind of shady dealing characters with hidden evil intentions. But Cave is sexy...
by Beetle Juice on 1/23/2009 3:16am
yessss very sexy indeed!
by Buckethead on 2/8/2009 10:23pm
like all songs it is open to interpretation.
by Mark F on 2/12/2009 7:33am
Not the church on Pont St Knightsbridge by any chance?
by GuesssWho on 2/15/2009 8:45pm
In Paradise Lost, God has the red right hand. Nevertheless, this seems to be about the Antichrist.

Or maybe it's Jesus, but God is evil?
by That One Guy on 2/16/2009 3:27am
Duh, it's about a guy who gives handjobs down by the train tracks.
by j0nny on 3/9/2009 2:07am
The Red Right Hand refers to the vengeance of God.
by Piper2 on 3/10/2009 2:27pm
It is a direct quote from 'Paradise Lost' and the Red Right hand is God's hand. ---
by Piper3 on 4/6/2009 9:12pm
"He's a God, He's Man, He's a Ghost, He's a Guru." Sounds like the holy Trinity to me. I feel like it's a distinctly American riff on Jesus/God mythology. "Through the Ghetto and the Bowery, and the barrio and the slum" is another reference to Jesus and his association with the poor. Except this association is inverted and recontextualized. It's wonderful and brilliant.
by the crooked man on 4/12/2009 5:18pm
i believe its about milton's "paradise lost" but if you read the "book of lost things" by author john connoly it syncs perfectly with the antagonist the crooked having said that connoly has said theyre were influences from john milton so there ya go
by Jessica on 6/11/2009 11:25pm
Huh. You know, somebody dropped this CD in my yard, so I listened. I thought it was about Obama. : D Who I voted for, but now that he's escalating the war, I think he's not what he seems, and he's got blood on his hands. Which are holding stacks of green paper, right? Also, everyone treated him like he was a God, a man, a guru. Oh well. Apparantly the song is older than that.
by Pablo_Roberto on 6/20/2009 6:16am
You're all idiots!
by still on 6/20/2009 7:25am
nick cave is australian so its not about american politics, its so mythic it can be about anything where there is hidden motive and dark hungers
by enrique on 8/21/2009 7:05am
red right hand refers to the vengeful hand of god, but he is singing about the fallen angel, satan, which is also a part of paradise lost
by Shalla on 9/8/2009 10:02pm
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,
Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames; or from above
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us? .. Direct quote from Paradise lost, book 2. In reference to GOD.
by Yiani on 9/9/2009 2:35am
There's an error in the lyric of verse 2 lines 7&8 where it reads:
"Hey buddy, you know you're
never ever coming back", however it should read:
"But there won't be a single thing that you can do"...
by :D on 9/16/2009 1:36am
I thought this song was about Santa.
my bad.
by Poe on 9/17/2009 12:47am
More things in Heaven and Earth .....
by Nodeva flickr on 10/2/2009 5:02am
Give me back the Berlin wall, Give me Stalin and St. Paul, I have see the Future baby, it's murder!
by Jens on 10/6/2009 2:56pm
As said a few times before the "Red right hand" is a reference the darker side of God ("A shadow is cast wherever he stands") or, if it pleases you, to Creation in which evil exists while humanity waits for Heaven on Earth. Thus the red right hand is a part of God, since he is allmighty in a flawed world.

The reference "Gods red right hand" in Paradise Lost is only one in a long row of similar images (sorry if my english lacks some finesse here) still Cave makes other references to this book (see Song of Joy for an example). You could say it refers to the punishing God of the Old Testament (contrary to the loving God Jesus talked about).

Still, what Nick Cave, though both a christian and a scholar (well, I would say he is), means I guess only he knows. I bet there are university papers written on this subject.
by Tolik from Ukraine) on 10/7/2009 2:49am
think it's about much more than superstitions. it's about power of money in our societies and 'catastrophic plan' of governments and financial groups or whoever stands behind them. It is also about brainwashing and propaganda:
'You'll see him in your head,
on the TV screen
And hey buddy, I'm warning
you to turn it off
He's a ghost, he's a god,
he's a man, he's a guru'
also in:
'He'll wrap you in his arms,
tell you that you've been a good boy
He'll rekindle all the dreams
it took you a lifetime to destroy'
by Ghett0 Rocker on 10/15/2009 4:07pm
Who the hell said he's talking about god, clearly hes speaking about the devil. I mean your mother reading you those kids books when you were five could explain that for you :/
by Crow on 10/15/2009 10:02pm
my interpretation: It seems like a comparison of what the Kindly New Testament promises vs. what the vengeful Old Testament dictates.

You'll see God and the Savior every where you look, on tv, in charities, promising you Heaven if you just believe in him (and send your donations for your penance and redemption, so we can do good works with it), but the truth is, you're never getting back into Heaven/Eden, due to God's Red Right Hand of vengence and the fact that he has other plans for you than what the evangelists are preaching.

by Demonhybrid on 10/25/2009 9:00pm
I have no idea what this song is about. I just thought it was a funny song which a heard in the movie cirque du freak. Playing along to the movie in a grave yard scene.
by Trinidad on 1/15/2010 6:11am
I don't know what is this song about. But it's great! ;) I found it in my favorite book ("Nocarz")
Sorry, I'm from Poland and my English is horrible
by hi on 1/16/2010 8:30am
the song is about the devil but gives the impression of a cowboy and the red right hand is taken from the poem paradise lost but they have given it a twist by saying he has a plan to kill and take hence the "microscopic plan". the cowboy side is that he sings about some sort of town and how he travels across it reeling in trouble, and the way the way they describe his coat as dusty and black sound like a coat that a cowboy would where but also someone with an evil secret like the devil and his red right hand.
by Jeza the mad on 1/18/2010 9:54am
The song is simply about our internal evils that we all have.. We can listen to voices in our heads and take one direction evil or we can choose a path of good. we all have the potential to possess a red right hand or be a murderous psycopath..A psycopath most definately listens to the ghost the god the guru and thinks its him it is a mind play.. Is it you? do you have a red right hand? No i dont at all.
by fungu on 1/23/2010 8:50pm
its epic
by Spiritforsale on 1/26/2010 1:42am
I think the songs about mankinds free will. I's our choice to gain both material and psychological satisfaction through honest work and effort or do we take dishonest short cuts and coniving to get what we desire?. Like selling your soul.
The red right hand (Tho from P.Lost) could belong to both God and Satan. Where would God be without Satan? They seem to need each other to exist don't they?
by Hubris on 1/31/2010 9:06pm
It's not about the devil

The red right hand is the vengeful hand of god as described by Milton. The key of the song turns on the idea that God himself is the source of misery.

by Cavefan on 2/1/2010 9:42am
The lines "He'll reach deep into the hole,
heal your shrinking soul
Hey buddy, you know you're
never ever coming back" are wrong! After "shrinking soul" its "and there won't be a single thing that you can do".
Misquoting the Caveman is down right sacrilegious!

by Michael on 2/18/2010 8:03am
It's about the powerful and ruthless who prey on and corrupt those without hope. When you give up your principles to join them you "never come back" to being a just and decent person. The violence they use is hidden behind justifications like "Weapons of Mass Destruction", "Security" or whatever will keep their bloodstained hand hidden while they pretend to special wisdom ("he's a guru"). With their power and secrecy they are like a ghost, and a god, but fundamentally like a man, fallible and corrupt. They don't have any special wisdom which is why their plan is catastrophic.
by me! on 3/28/2010 2:45pm
I don't know anything the meaning of this song but this ong appears in cirque du freak movie I i loved it!
by ^_^ on 3/30/2010 6:39am
in my point of view, this song is about love and hate, seduction and destruction, both sides of one coin. you love what understands you, but you don't understand, so it has the power to destroy you because it destroys your world view, for example. it's about helplessness, subjection, the feeling of having no power against something that stands above you.

if you read the comments you learn more about the person who writes it than about the song itself, but put them altogether you get a whole view.
god / the devil, governments, beloved person who is sophisticated, mysteryious man, father, mother, yourself and your inner world which can be heaven and hell, your boss, a criminal.

my personal favourite is santa clause. he gives presents, but he can also punish you in the form of santa's little helper.
by curious on 4/4/2010 6:52pm
this song was on the begining of a show that i used to watch in my math class, but i cant for the life of me think of the name of the show
by XanderL on 4/10/2010 4:12am
Its about the end of days, when the devil comes and gives man all he wants. Then asks for one thing in return... >;)
by SandyT on 4/26/2010 9:41pm
It's about MIBs, men in black, not the ones from the popular movie, the real aliens MIBs.

I encountered some late one night years ago on the Canada border
by steven on 4/29/2010 8:26pm
I dont care whats its about its good a timeless classic great song
"You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan Designed and directed by his red right hand"
love that part
by Alvin Thomas on 7/19/2010 7:58pm
I was talking to Nick Cave about this song, as a fan and friend of his. He said it was about a man at a gas/petrol stop. the guy went to get his change from the till, but it closed on his finger and got stuck. he got it out and it was all red. He was freaking Nick out because the guy was wearing a female nurse outfit, even though he was an older, fat and hairy man. When Nick went to leave his ca wouldnt start, but needing to be somewhere he reluctanly asked the nurse man for help. The nurse man took sympathy and gave him a cheap car, some cash and the number of his brother, a music executive. The nurse-man is still a close friend for many years, before he was jailed for a series of murders. Nick Cave found a list with dozens of names on it just before nurse-man was arrested. Many of the names were crossed off, and next on the list was Nick Cave. His mum also verified this story over tea once. Alvin.
by WDKY on 8/3/2010 9:51pm
Fuck me Alvin. You made it worth shoveling Through most of the shite that preceded your post. Fantastic.
by Will on 8/18/2010 1:50pm
Replace Red Right hand with Liberal Left Hand and you've got...Obama!
At the end of the first stanza imagine Barry and Ms.O. walking in the inauguration parade. The gathering storm will be the fight of Progressives vs. Constitutionalists.
The 'stacks of green paper' is all the wasteful spending like the Stimulus (porkulous) and ObamaCare.
the last stanza reflects all the subsequent harm to our country and economy that will last for decades.
by mad on 11/8/2010 4:09pm
shivers down my spine Alvin!
by Mariyah on 12/7/2010 3:14pm
Damn, Alvin... That's pretty creepy. D:
Interesting story, and it's cool how you were able to meet Mr. Cave; but that's still fucking creepy...
by Nicholas on 1/26/2011 2:50am
I am calling shennanigans on Alvin.
by Rob on 2/13/2011 4:25pm
Nice one Alvin, don't matter if it's true or not. I personnaly have to think of Stephen Kings The Stand all the time I hear the song. Like to imagine the song is about that man who was also Jim Morrison.
by Dave on 5/25/2011 2:08pm
Nick cave is Australian, this song is old school, Obama wasnt around when it came out it has nothing to do with stupid American politics an i doubt he would even care about American politics, its about the devil! Aussies FTW >:(
by arthurdent on 7/12/2011 6:04pm
I looked this up... The "Red Right Hand" is a reference to the devil in Milton's "Paradise Lost." Reading the lyrics this is how the devil is supposed to tempt people. Gives them what they want, at first, then eventually the people are trapped by their own greed or desire. The same storyline idea is used in Kings "Needful Things" and countless Pact-with-the-devil tales... and the person involved winds up giving up everything for an empty trick.
by loxley11 on 7/25/2011 2:25pm
Ditto Rob - a perfect description of the "Dark Man," Randall Flagg in The Stand. Every line fits
by Superman on 8/27/2011 5:27am
by Jolly on 11/12/2011 10:05pm
All you people are totally wrong.

It's about a pimp and a male prostitute, and that relationship
by The man on 1/13/2012 8:26am
Guys, it's about all of those cult leaders like Jim Jones.
by GeneralX on 2/12/2012 6:56am
Oh man, despite this song having many interpretations, I can't believe only one person identifies it with the 'spirit' behind capitalist / military-industrial complex societies, chiefly the U.S.

- It is trying to kindle dreams within you that are harmful

- It can be approximated to be a god or ghost or guru, i.e. something all-powerful, something you can't see and something that knows the answer. The devil doesn't really fit with those aspects.

- The third verse is strongly in favour of this sense of understanding the song. The spirit is understood to try to seduce you with wealth, but is poetically linked to extreme poverty - the ghettos and the slums. i.e. capitalist society where th
by GeneralX on 2/14/2012 12:57pm
(cont.)-e creation of extreme wealth is autmoatically linked to the creation of extreme poverty.

- the last verse refers to the methods modern-day western societies use to control public opinion and desires. There is also a 'catastrophic plan', i.e. the plan of consumerist societies for endless growth that will inevitably lead to disaster.

- everything revolves around the 'red right hand', which has always symbolised war and destruction. No doubt the term was inspired/taken from Milton, but the meaning must have changed somewhat as it clearly no longer refers to God. It symbolising war and destruction fits with the capitalist reading of things, as this is their last and most powerful line of attack or defence if economic and discourse control no longer works.
by WSMacD on 4/29/2012 8:06pm
I saw the red hand in an awake vision. I am still weighing what it was. I read the. Above comments...interesting, but once witnessed it gives one something to think about. I am a Deist, good, bad...right or wrong...I am sure it will be revealed to me upon my death...?
by Faraldi on 8/5/2012 9:38pm
This song was in dumb and dumber
by FreakFlagFlying on 9/21/2012 4:12pm
The Red Right Hand isn't actually God because it's the Left Hand of God (the Archangel Michael, I think it is) that does the bloodshed, so God technically doesn't have a Red Right Hand. He'd have a Red Left Hand.

It is the devil, and the fact that a lot of you are seeing Stephen King in this is spot-on, because Randall Flagg (the Walkin' Dude!) and the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series are characters that incorporate the same characteristics of the stranger in the trenchcoat. Randall Flagg especially, seeing as how he is actually the Devil, or close enough to it, in Eyes of the Dragon and The Stand. (Yes, it's the same Flagg.)
by bromden on 10/26/2012 9:28am
by Howard on 11/1/2012 2:47am
Here's a random question: Does anyone hear a flute as one of the instruments in this song?
by spiderman on 12/24/2012 6:26pm
he's obviously talkin about me
by Oggabooga on 12/25/2012 1:41am
Beautiful song, classic in the local Goth scene, you have some of the lyrics wrong though...

He'll reach deep into the hole,
Heal your shrinking soul,
*Hey buddy, you know you're*
*Never ever coming back*
"But there won't be a single thing that you can do"

Remove * lines for " line... :D
by Grimsdale on 1/11/2013 1:24pm
Gotta say the devil/evil - in any one of his many incarnations (drug dealer (or the drug itself), bad-capitalist, politician - music agent/manager?)promising much with one hand and making things worse. Stephen King is riddled with the imagery - the lone gunslinger.

Good track, and the words mean what they mean to you.
by WHY-U-WANT-MY-NAME? on 5/16/2013 4:25pm
He's speaking about a politician who gives his people false hope.
by KeLi on 7/10/2013 10:31am
It's about me actually, my real name is "Paradise" - you can blame my mom for that, she IS *God*! I'm a LoSt soul & my daddy, *Satan*, has come to help me FiNd my way -though he knows how I love red-his hand is sore from beating me, ahhhhh! Finally & it feels so good, I tHINK I'M IN 'LOVE' thus I must have found the way... now my conscience, ReD too, wants to kill my mother! O:-)
by KeithP on 10/10/2013 1:22am
Now the theme tune for a gangster series based in Birmingham UK "Peaky Blinders" named as they have razors sewed into their caps from 1919 brill and suggest you watch out in the USA for when it comes out
by alena on 11/22/2013 2:33am
I have a red birthmark on my right hand. Palm to forearm.
by Jez.D on 4/19/2014 10:01am
I was hoping it was about masturbation
by Mickey Mouse on 9/15/2014 12:46pm
You are all wrong, it is obviously about the Red Hand of Ulster
by no clue what it is about on 8/15/2015 9:47am
Just comment in to drag this discussion into 2015
by Mickey Mouse is right ^ on 11/8/2015 3:28am
The legend of the bloody of Ulster (Lámh Dhearg Uladh)is (loosely) about 3 princes who race by boat to Ireland and who ever lays their hand on the soil first can claim the land as their own. So, as the princes get closer, one of the three cuts his hand off and throws it onto the soil. Hence the bloody hand of Ulster. In saying this, the "red right hand" was often a calling card for the IRA in the 60's and 70's during the fight for Irelands independence from Britain.
by 8th on 3/24/2016 6:21am
Red Right Hand was also an emblem of Ulster Volunteer Force. I think that, as a Peaky Blinders theme, it refers to CI Campbell.
by Donald Trump on 10/18/2016 2:37pm
It's about fingering a woman who has her period
by Khan on 11/24/2016 6:24am
So much fun I love this song
by Jenny on 1/11/2018 5:49am
It is also the intro song to the BBC show Peaky Blinders. That is how I learned about this song.

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