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[1]
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, 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 several films and TV shows, such as Dumb and Dumber, Box of Moonlight, Hellboy, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, Peaky Blinders, and The X-Files television series, whose producer Chris Carter explained in the liner notes for the compilation album, Songs in the Key of X, that the song was the direct inspiration for the anthology.

It has also been used in the first three films in the Scream trilogy. The original version is featured on the soundtrack album for the first film, while a remixed version by DJ Spooky appears on the Scream 2 album and has since been accepted by many fans as the official theme song to the Scream series.[citation needed]

The song is the main theme of the 2004 Russian film Boginya: Kak Ya Polyubil (The Goddess: How I Fell in Love).

Nick Cave recorded another version, sometimes referred to as "Red Right Hand 2", for Scream 3 and released it on his B-Sides & Rarities album. Composer Marco Beltrami also incorporated elements from the song into a track in his score for the third film.[citation needed]

The song also appears on the soundtrack for the film Hellboy, in a cover version by Pete Yorn.

The song was also used in promos for UK TV show Hollyoaks, during "Fire Week" in 2010 featuring some of the main cast in a restaurant which sets on fire.[citation needed]

As of June 2013, the song was featured in the South Australian Tourism Board's Barossa Valley television commercial campaign,'Barossa, Be Consumed', directed by Jeffrey Darling.[citation needed]

Beginning in September 2013, the song was used as the opening and closing music for Peaky Blinders.

The song was also used by New York design firm GrandArmy in a promotional clip for the Mexican tequila company El Jimador.[2]


  • Australian jazz musician Frank Bennett recorded a lounge version of the song for his 1996 album, "Five O'Clock Shadow"
  • English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys performed a cover of "Red Right Hand" during their tour of Australia in early 2009, and during 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 and as a b-side on the single "Crying Lightning".
  • Pegasus Award-winning filk duo Vixy & Tony recorded a cover of "Red Right Hand" on their album, "Thirteen."
  • American singer-songwriter Pete Yorn covered the song for the Hellboy soundtrack.
  • Giant Sand covered the song on their 2002 album Cover Magazine.
  • Ernst Molden covered the song in Austrian German on his album "Weidafoan."
  • US band FIDLAR have also covered the song in 2013.
  • PJ Harvey for the second series of Peaky Blinders and the 2015 released horror film Crimson Peak.[3]

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]