Red Right Hand

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"Red Right Hand"
Single by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
from the album Let Love In
Released 1994
Genre Alternative rock[2]
Length 6:10
Label Mute Records
Writer(s) Mick Harvey, Nick Cave and Thomas Wydler
Producer(s) Tony Cohen
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds singles chronology
"Red Right Hand"
"Where the Wild Roses Grow"
Let Love In track listing
  1. "Do You Love Me?"
  2. "Nobody's Baby Now"
  3. "Loverman"
  4. "Jangling Jack"
  5. "Red Right Hand"
  6. "I Let Love In"
  7. "Thirsty Dog"
  8. "Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore"
  9. "Lay Me Low"
  10. "Do You Love Me? Pt 2"

"Red Right Hand" is a 1994 song and single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

It first appeared on the album Let Love In (1994), where it ran at 6:10. It was later released as a single at the condensed length of 4:48. It has since become one of Cave's signature tunes, performed at most of his concerts.

Song title[edit]

The liner notes for Murder Ballads points out that the phrase "red right hand" is from a line in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost that refers to the vengeful hand of God. The opening song on the album, "Song of Joy", states of a murderer: "It seems he has done many, many more, / quotes John Milton on the walls in the victim's blood. / The police are investigating at tremendous cost. / In my house he wrote 'his red right hand'. / That, I'm told, is from Paradise Lost."

The aforementioned appearance in Paradise Lost (Book II, 170-174) is: "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?".

The term itself appears to be Milton's translation of the term "rubente dextra" in Horace's Ode i.2,2-3

In popular culture[edit]

The song has appeared in numerous works of popular culture.


  • As of June 2013, the song has been featured in the South Australian Tourism Board's Barossa Valley television commercial campaign,Barossa, Be Consumed, directed by Jeffrey Darling.[citation needed]
  • The song was used by New York design firm GrandArmy in a promotional clip for the Mexican tequila company El Jimador.[3]

Films and soundtracks[edit]

Scream franchise[edit]

  • The song has been used in the first three films in the Scream trilogy. The original version is featured on the soundtrack album for the first film in 1996, while a remixed version by DJ Spooky appears on the Scream 2 (1997) album and has since been accepted by many fans as the official theme song for the Scream series.[citation needed]
  • Nick Cave recorded another version, sometimes referred to as "Red Right Hand 2", for Scream 3 (2000) and released it on his B-Sides & Rarities (2005) album. Composer Marco Beltrami also incorporated elements from the song into a track in his score for Screem 3.[citation needed]


  • Featured prominently during Duane Barry's car ride, with Dana Scully in the trunk, in the 1994 The X-Files episode "Ascension."
  • The song was used in promos for the UK television show Hollyoaks, during "Fire Week" in 2010, featuring some of the main cast in a restaurant which catches fire.[citation needed]
  • Beginning in September 2013, the song was used as the opening and closing music for the UK television show Peaky Blinders. The Arctic Monkeys' version appeared in series one; PJ Harvey's was used for series two.[5]


  • English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys performed a cover of "Red Right Hand" during their tour of Australia in early 2009, their performance in the Reading and Leeds Festival in August 2009, as well as in their North American tour in December 2009. A recorded version of the song appears on the Japanese version of their third album, Humbug (2009) and as a b-side on the single "Crying Lightning" (2009).
  • Australian jazz musician Frank Bennett recorded a lounge version of the song for his album, Five O'Clock Shadow (1996)
  • US band FIDLAR covered the song in 2013.
  • Giant Sand covered the song on their album Cover Magazine (2002).
  • Ernst Molden covered the song in Austrian German on his album Weidafoan.
  • Pegasus Award-winning filk duo Vixy & Tony recorded a cover of "Red Right Hand" on their album, Thirteen.
  • Chicago Blues Rock band Mutts released a cover version of this song on their 2015 Halloween EP, "Ghoul Yer Delusion." [6]

Track listing[edit]

  • Euro 3 Track CD Single
  1. "Red Right Hand"
  2. "That's What Jazz Is to Me"
  3. "Where the Action Is"


Chart (1995) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 62
UK Singles Chart 68

See also[edit]