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Music Post: The Cure

October 9, 2009

Today I happened to see a recipe for quiche Lorraine, which of course made me think about the B-52s and I promptly had to listen to them. (alert! music geek post)

I listened to the B-52s all the time in high school. So then I was thinking about my other favorite high school bands… Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Sisters of Mercy, U2, the Violent Femmes, the Sugarcubes… Bauhaus, Big Black, The Clash, The Pixies, the Sex Pistols… and of course, my favorite, The Cure.

I loved The Cure from the very first time I heard them. I was instantly in love with Robert Smith and their whole sound. I lived in a teeny tiny logger town so there was no opportunity to see their shows or anything like that, but I listened to everything I could (obsessively) and their music (and The Smiths) instantly brings my teen self right up to the surface.

So tonight I looked up a bunch of their albums and thought I would talk a bit about my favorites.

I was in high school from 1988 to 1992, right at their tip-top peak, the Disintegration period. However, I loved most of their albums. (I should say, cassette tapes, since that was of course what I bought, CDs not quite being accessible yet to your average music consumer)
I think I first got Disintegration right before my sophomore year, and I listened to it over and over and over on a road trip my family took that summer. I adored it from first listen. I liked, and still like, just about every song on the album, but my favorites by far are Pictures Of You, The Same Deep Water As You, Prayers For Rain and Disintegration. I just loved how moody and rainy the whole album is. I grew up in Oregon, so this sort of dark and misty atmosphere felt very appropriate. Also I was a lonely 15-year-old with artistic inclinations; of COURSE I loved it. The was the start of my Cure love.
From there, I got a compilation upon recommendation from the used-record-store clerk, Staring At The Sea. This introduced me to pretty much everything else. I listened to this tape obsessively as well. I can only imagine my poor parents. Our house was not sound-proof by any stretch of the imagination… I’m sure they were completely sick of this band pretty quickly. Thankfully they were tolerant and I was allowed to drown myself in moody music.
My third, Boys Don’t Cry, is a classic. I loved Fire in Cairo and have distinct memories of singing it to myself as I worked at my fast-food-restaurant job. “…f-i-r-e-i-n-c-a-i-r-o…” over and over and over… I also really loved 10:15 On A Saturday Night and of course Boys Don’t Cry.

Then I met the small handful of other arty kids at my very-tiny high school, and one or the other of them lent me the gloomy trio of Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography. I dearly wished to own them all, but the record store was in the next town over, and they didn’t have these in stock, and it was all a bit of a problem. Thank goodness I had a stereo where I could copy the tapes. So for quite some time, all I had were copies of these albums. One of my friends worried that Pornography would be too dark for me (he was under the impression that I was of sunny disposition — where he got this impression, I have no idea). Actually, I loved it. Favorites from these extremely gloomy albums include Play for Today, A Forest, Seventeen Seconds, One Hundred Years, Cold, and the entire Faith album. I recently bought Faith (digitally) and I remembered how much I loved it — it’s totally a rainy-day art album. Stuff like this makes me want to do art. It’s almost like classical music, where you get pulled into the mood of the entire album and it’s experienced as a whole, not just individual songs.

**I must stop for a moment here and clarify that instead of depressing me, all these albums produced a sort of dark joy. I was happy listening to them. I loved the music, the gloom, the mood, Robert Smith’s voice and guitar playing. They brought out creativity and thoughtfulness. I never, ever connected with the sort of suicidal image that I later read about in newspapers from worried parents. The state of pop music at that time was extremely depressing (to me) — I couldn’t stand it (horrible Bobby Brown, for example) — and this sort of music helped me feel okay about myself and who I was and who I was growing into. I always felt happy and alive when listening to The Cure or Siouxie or Bauhaus or Love and Rockets. If it depressed me, I didn’t listen to it.

Anyway.

From there it was a short leap to The Top (which I didn’t love, but liked to listen to every now and again) and The Head on the Door, which I found fun and interesting, but also not favorites. Clearly I needed gloom to feel truly happy.

I finally got Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me somewhere in my junior year (I tell you, it is difficult to get music if you are in a tiny town with no car and the internet doesn’t exist). I loved about half of this album and felt the other half was too pop-y for me. I liked Why Can’t I Be You and The Perfect Girl and Like Cockatoos, and this album has my all-time favorite song, Just Like Heaven. Oh, I love that song so much. When I first heard it, I stopped still to listen to it. You know how some songs do that? Stop you in your tracks? It’s still in my Top 5 All-Time Favorite Songs. Sometimes it’s still even #1.

After I graduated high school, I went on a cultural exchange to Finland. Before I left, I bought myself Wish, their newest album. I wasn’t in love with this album from the very start. I hated Friday I’m In Love; I thought it was a stupid song. I still hate it and have to switch the radio every time it comes on. I only liked maybe three songs on the album and wasn’t in love with them. I listened to it again tonight and it brought back memories of Finland, but I think it’s a weak album. It felt like a wannabe Disintegration, but certainly not of the same caliber.

I haven’t listened to any of their new stuff since then, because I think it kind of sucks. I hate that it makes me sound like a geeky music nerd, but frankly they got too commercial!
Anyway. That’s my geeky music post for the day. Now go listen to The Cure. They’re great.
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