Kicking Against the Pricks

I’ve loved Nick Cave’s music for a long time, but I loved it the most in the very late 90s when, post-breakup, I moved in with my brother to get back on my feet. I was massively depressed and in a very goth, very dark mood for about a year before I met my husband and emerged from my gloom cocoon. During this period, I listened to “Let Love In” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1994) on repeat, occasionally swapping that CD out with “Kicking Against the Pricks” (1986) for some variety and to hear “Long Black Veil.”

A few years ago when I was learning to screenprint, I chose this image of a young Cave to be my first screenprint. It came out a bit dirty and flooded but, actually, I find that the grungy sloppiness of this first attempt really works for a Nick Cave shirt. 

The title is a reference to a biblical quote from acts 9, verse 5 from Acts of the Apostles:
“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”

So, what does that mean? I found this reference:
“It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” was a Greek proverb, but it was also familiar to the Jews and anyone who made a living in agriculture. An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, and this would result in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered. Thus, Jesus’ words to Saul on the road to Damascus: “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”

So, there’s a meaning. I’ve always also just thought it to mean that I’m standing up to a person who’s a prick, but, I guess that’s my own interpretation!

I am offering this tee in both white and grey for those who dislike white tee shirts… there seems to be quite a few of you!

You can buy them here: