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.
It has appeared in several films and TV shows, such as the 1994 comedy, Dumb and Dumber, 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, and the "Hellboy" movie. It has also been used in all 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. Another version, sometimes referred to as "Red Right Hand 2", was recorded by Nick Cave for Scream 3 and released on Cave's B-Sides & Rarities album; composer Marco Beltrami also incorporates elements from the song into a track in his score for the third film. The song also appears on the soundtrack for the film Hellboy in a cover version by Pete Yorn.
The song shares its name with the 1945 mystery novel by Joel Townsley Rogers. The liner notes for Murder Ballads say that "red right hand" is a phrase from Milton's Paradise Lost which there refers to the Devil, though in reality the passage in question refers to the vengeful hand of God. In the opening song on the album, "Song of Joy" the protagonist's wife and daughters are murdered, and he says of the 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."
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||62|
|UK Singles Chart||68|