03 August 2005

I Quite Like The Cure

K-Punk is excellent on The Cure, cracking open a few Goth emblems along the way. He stops at Pornography though; bailing out on them just when they were beginning to get interesting...

{insert sound of squeaky eye rub here}

Because for me the importance of The Cure comes not from Robert Smith's fantasmallegorical 'sickness' (why's he sick? Too many pies...) but from The Cure's bridging effect in the late 80s which meant that, whenever you met someone new and asked them about their musical tastes (always more personal than asking them for a snog*), you would inevitably hear something along the lines of:

"Well...I quite like The Cure"

This was especially true for the kind of girls who possessed only 12 tapes (but knew every word) and had apparently won a competition in which first prize was a lifetimes supply of stripey tights.

The popCure of the dance remixes and Close To Me and Love Cats and Let's Go to Bed is The Cure that's more socially relevant because it allowed people in and it dissolved suspicion that these freaky looking Goth kids plied unsufferable dirge and songs about cat innards.

When I was 14, I can remember playing Standing On A Beach to the rest of Sherborne Football Team while on a tour of France - bearing in mind my nickname was Brainball because I actually took a book to read on the tour (Bill Hicks: "Look out...we got a reader in here...") - and more than a few of the guys actually went out and bought it afterwards; ditching their Phil Collins and Queen fixations for a temporary transport into transcendence...

I wonder if 'Ner or Noj (so named because he was called John and he was backward) went out and bought Faith or Japanese Whispers or Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me as well? Wonder if they were into The Cure after that? I like to think so...

By 1990 the 'serious' Goths (i.e. the ones who could still be bothered to paint on Bauhaus bruises and dig past row one of the t-shirts section of Kensington Market) had moved onto the Nine Inch Nails / Ministry / Industrial axis but the 'quite like The Cure' people were still everywhere; this music was social glue, a quick way to diffuse Music Taste Performance Anxiety - it wasn't particularly cool (therefore there was no way you could be misjudged as a big thumbed musical nerd) but it allowed people to stick you in a large tub marked Alternative (this was before Pearl Jam) which meant:

1) You probably wouldn't kick their face in, even after nineteen Snakebite N Blacks
2) You probably wouldn't admit to liking The Blues Brothers and you probably actually hated it.
3) You probably would be prepared to hang around the kind of Indie Nights at clubs where only ten people would ever turn up and they'd all hang around in case The Wolfgang Press's Kansas came on and they could discuss the video they'd seen on Snub TV.
4) You probably would like to come back and listen to a This Mortal Coil 12" featuring the bird from The Cocteau Twins.

The Cure, then, ought to be regarded not just as not particularly gothic but as anti-gothic, if gothic is seen as a self-enclosing solipsistic (23) Envelope rather than simply an extension of the Glam drive towards self-annihilation. To understand the importance of The Cure you should look beyond the Camus fixations of their early 'post punk shards' and through the astral bleaks of their 'classic' period and onto the Dissociative Identity Disorder of The Top, Head On The Door, Disintergration etc...

This is why the ultimate Cure album is not Faith or Pornography but Mixed Up. One day, I'll explain this but right now this isn't my main point so I'll leave it hanging like a laundered cat.

The Cure brought lonely people together in Student Union bars all over the world. You could travel through South America with a Cure album under your arm and you'd immediately identify yourself as someone not worth shooting.

And without The Cure I seriously doubt if I'd ever have got any girls back to my house - I've sat listening The Cure with many paisely ape-girls (ah, the smell of patchouli!! - and there's a reason why The Top is my favourite Cure record..) but every single time I asked them to huddle close and listen to TGs 'slug bait' or Faust or Coil...

This then is the reason I will always love The Cure and will always be suspicious of anyone my age who doesn't own a record by them.

I mean, does any current band fulfil such an important social function?

Answers on a e-card, to the usual address.

Here's The Cure, from their live8 performance:

The Cure - Just Like Heaven

The Cure - 100 years

*note to self: write long post on why this is; use Deleuze and Badiou and Zizek at least once before resorting to usual crap.

And then explain that Mixed Up thing.


GTTRBRKZ said...

You can trust me, mate. I have several. Pornography's my fave, although I must admit I really liked the remix album when it came out. Must have a search through my C90s and see if I've still got it. The Cure were a massive part of teenage life in Yate (the slightly depressing little town on the outskirts of Bristol where I grew up). Just a snatch of 'The head On The Door' sends me hurtling back to the stereo in the Sixth form common room. Although I always maintained my 'casual' image, I was very fond of my goth friends and their funny music. It was the other casuals listening to "The Unforgettable Fire" who I detested.

Michael said...

A delightful piece - as always!

I do love them too, or at least I really used to love them, and just sort of like them now.

However, it's going to take one hell of a dissertation from you to convince me that the remix album is their greatest piece of work. I LOVE remixes and many of those remixers but remember thinking at the time "this could have been so much better".

thebestever said...

i can definitely state that the cure molded my youth and led me to be the person i am today. by far my most favorite band of all time, and continues to be. i seriously enjoyed their recent connect the dots box set they released, lots of great gems on there...

however, head on the door is my favorite album ever...

although "a forest" remix on the mixed up cd is definitely fantastic. i have mixed emotions about that album (mixed up) though... it was the cure cd that every regular person had... bah.

oh, and i still have all my stripey tights. yay!

kempernorton said...

All my girlfriends were the same , and their favourite album was always kiss me kiss me kiss me. They all had stripy tights and painted flowers on their DMs with tippex , as you well know.
Seventeen Seconds was the Cure's greatest work , although Oornography gets a mention for making Daniel try and jump out of a seventh floor window. See you soon.

Loki said...

Wow! Kempernorton! Even I was beginning to think I'd made you up... (wonder whatever happened to Jane?)

You are still Joanna Newsom I take it? I don't think I could handle any more morphology...

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely, 100% right about both the Cure and Mixed Up.

Mixed Up was the door through which both the freaky kids and the straighter kids could pass through as a sort of friendly no-man's-land between the two. And then of course, once you're half-way there, you just might keep going. Eventually you aren't a tourist any more. Mixed Up served a social function that dramatically altered the courses of easily tens of thousands of people's lives.

Any time you have some sort of gateway like Mixed Up there is the strong potential for some major ripples in the general fabric of things. Unleashing a relatively massive influx of invisible worms into the dark crimson joy of teenaged hearts. Powerful, powerful consequences result down the road. Mixed Up was subtle and powerful magic.


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