The Cure, one of the most important and popular modern rock bands (with over 28 million records sold), will be inducted into Hollywood’s Rockwalk (7425 Sunset Blvd) tomorrow, April 30 at 8pm, joining Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Sonic Youth, James Brown, George Martin, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Carlos Santana, Carl Perkins, John Lee Hooker, The Ramones, Bonnie Raitt, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Los Lobos, Motorhead, and X among numerous others.
The Cure began as a spare art-rock band in the late-70s and had several excellent hits, including “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Love Cats,” “Close to Me,” and “In Between Days” (all included in the collection Staring at the Sea – The Singles (’86)), but their commercial breakthrough came with 1987’s double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
The Cure has rigorously explored the terrain of emotional self-flagellation – irony turned upon oneself – so that when they indulge in a kind of post-ironic romanticism, it is a breath of fresh air and genuinely poignant. “Just Like Heaven” is that kind of achievement.
“Heaven” opens with a driving bass melody and a thumping backbeat worthy of Buddy Holly. Electric rhythm guitar, elecric lead guitar, acoustic guitar and synth strings are added, doubling and tripling the melody line. As each instrument joins in the unison voicing, it becomes clear that Robert Smith’s ironic point is that there can be conviction beyond irony. The instruments in the intro build into a beautiful, rhythmic, powerful and sumptuous climax that is shattered by Smith’s gelatinous warble:
“‘Show me, show me, show me
How you do that trick
The one that makes me scream,’ she said.”
Older men are attracted to younger women for a variety of reasons including plain old biology – younger women are more fertile and have more time left to breed. Another reason is that the enthusiasm a younger woman brings to a relationship can strip away the ennui and jadedness accumulated over the years and allow the man to experience love again through the eyes of a neophyte. The years and the pain and the disappointments melt away creating the illusion of youth’s return.
“‘The one that makes me laugh’, she said
And threw her arms around my neck.”
This is better still: he can make her scream and make her laugh. A woman who is amused by you and who you can make scream with pleasure is a woman to be reckoned with. This is Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman. She stripped away the billionaire Richard Gere’s baggage by laughing at his jokes, by viewing his world from the outside and finding it irresistible, and by allowing him to make her scream. The singer, like Gere’s character, can feel the color and energy returning to his gray, weary existence.
“‘Show me how you do it,
And I promise you,
I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you.'”
Perhaps he is somewhat startled by this statement. He has to think about that one. The woman’s hyperactive animation keeps bouncing into his ruminations. Does she ever slow down? The beautiful instrumental of the intro returns. This gives the singer time to think.
“Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head.”
There is no substitute for the encompassing totality of physical contact with a loved one. Thinking is so often turned upon itself. While the unexamined life may not be worth living, losing oneself in the embrace of another can make that life worth examining.
“And dreamed of all the different ways
I had to make her glow
‘Why are you so far away?’ she said
‘Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you?
That I’m in love with you?'”
The singer dreams the sweetest dreams of glistening unison and immersion while he kisses and spins and turns and burrows. She interrupts his blissful reverie with an impossible question, “Why are you so far away?”
“Far away? I’m as close as I can possibly be.”
She begins to cry softly.
“You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream.”
Now the singer is lost between his reverie and reality. He isn’t even sure whom he is addressing: himself, the woman, or some mystical union of the two. He isn’t sure where he ends and she begins. But things aren’t quite right.
“How deep can we go? Deeper and deeper and darker and slower and heavier until we are heaviest, deepest, darkest water at the bottom of a nothing ocean.”
The instrumental melody is again repeated, but with the addition of a watery, wavery piano, taken right out of early-Eno, playing the lead. The melody floats and dives and dances in a timeless slow motion that threatens to carry us down to an inescapable depth, but then the guitar returns and pulls us back to the surface.
“Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days”
Ah, the singer was asleep. If only women knew that sleep is the ultimate compliment – the kind of deep, untroubled, dreamless sleep that only the right woman can induce.
“And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes.”
And found myself alone alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me.”
This last image is among the most powerful in pop music, as voice, words, music and image meld into an almost impossibly sad, beautiful, gothic pool as dancers dance, singers sing, and life is reaffirmed as worth living.
“You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, just like heaven.”
The young woman is just like heaven because within her is a place of calm and beauty and love and rest, but she is also like heaven in that she is out of sight and out of touch, but she will never be out of mind.
You should own Staring at the Sea, the Singles, and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (’87), which in addition to “Just Like Heaven” (which Dinosaur Jr. does a killer remake of), has the rollicking “Why Can’t I be You?” and “Hot, Hot Hot,” and the lovely “Catch” and “The Perfect Girl.”
The Cure reached another level of commercial success with Disintegration (’89) which includes the hit “Love Song,” the brooding dance floor favorite “Fascination Street,” as well as the title track and the melancholy “Pictures of You.” Wish (’92) is just ok, but does contain the bouncy hits “High” and “Friday I’m in Love.” Or just snag Greatest Hits, which is a reasonably good career overview.
More Cure news, new album coming:
- The Cure’s first album in four years will be a self-titled affair, frontman Robert Smith announced Wednesday night at the first playback of the upcoming release.
“The Cure” will arrive June 29 on producer Ross Robinson’s Geffen-based I Am imprint. The group will perform first single “The End of the World” Friday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” be inducted onto the Hollywood RockWalk later that day, and headline the Coachella festival on Sunday in Indio, Calif.
“I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” Smith said proudly. “The album is called ‘The Cure.’ If you don’t like it, then you don’t like us.” Smith stood silently in the corner of the room by himself while the 14-track album was played for about 40 journalists and guests, occasionally taking notes in preparation for approving the final mix and running order.
The album kicks off with the slow, discordant “Lost,” featuring the first of many impassioned vocal performances from Smith. A throbbing bass groove powers the tentatively titled “Labyrinths,” with Smith wailing, “It’s not the same / it never was like this / everything has to change.”
The classic Cure sound is evident on such tracks as “Before 3,” “Taking Off” and “I Don’t Know What’s Going On,” which sport great melodies and foot-tapping tempos. The 12th track, the tentatively titled “Jason #3” provides the album with a late shot of energy thanks to a clever, melodically ascending chorus.
….Smith held back on giving details of the band’s summer tour, which is rumored to feature such Cure-inspired new acts as Interpol, the Rapture and Mogwai, but promised, “You’ll enjoy the whole thing because it was put together by us.”
Here is the tentative track list for “The Cure”:
“Labyrinths” (working title)
“Before 3” (working title)
“Truth Goodness and Beauty”
“The End of the World”
“I Don’t Know What’s Going On”
“Us or Them”
“Precious Advise” (working title)
“Jason #3” (working title)
“Going Nowhere” [Billboard]