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 24 October 1994
Genre Alternative rock,[1] Southern gothic[2]
Length 6:10
Label Mute Records
Songwriter(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"
"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 from the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. A dark, malicious alternative rock track, it's attracted critical praise from various publications such as Spin.[1] It first appeared on the album Let Love In (1994), where it ran at 6:10, and the song was later released at the condensed length of 4:48 as a single.

It has become one of Cave's signature songs, being performed at most of his concerts. As of March 2017 it was his second-most played track from 1994 to present.[3] The title itself, as well as partial inspiration for the tone of the other lyrics, comes from English literary figure John Milton's Paradise Lost, in which it refers to divine vengeance.

Song title[edit]

The liner notes for Murder Ballads point 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.[4]

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.
  • 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.



  • 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)
  • Giant Sand covered the song on their album Cover Magazine (2002).
  • Ernst Molden covered the song in Austrian German on his album Weidafoan.

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]


  1. ^ a b "The 100 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1994". Spin. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Joshua Cutchin: Weird Words & Brass Beats". Joshua Cutchin: Weird Words & Brass Beats. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Tour Statistics -". Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "El Jimador". 
  5. ^ "Peaky Blinders playlist". Retrieved 16 November 2017.