Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.
Day 10 of this 21 day journey brings the first of three (planned) “why I like to to listen to” posts.
This post will cover why I listen to The Cure, that wonderful English band that defies categorization aside from “rock”. The labels “alternative”, “post-punk”, “new wave” and the band-hated category of “gothic rock” have been applied to them as their music (and the band personnel) has changed over the years. They still manage to not fit neatly into any given musical category.
They’ve been around in some form almost since I was born (which makes them…nope, not going there), but I didn’t really discover them until I was in college, a year after Disintegration came out. I was hooked hard by that album, and even more hooked by the following album, Mixed Up. When Wish came out, I realized I was permanently addicted. My favorite tracks are on those three albums and the compilation album Staring at the Sea.
But why, you ask, do you like this gloomy, goth, sneaker-gazing, band with the alternating whiny or nasal vocals, quivering guitar, and mind-invading synths?
I’m glad you asked. Three reasons.
First, The Cure are the absolute, hands-down, best intro writers ever. The instrumental introductions to their songs last anywhere from thirty seconds to well over two minutes. They generally start with an instrument or two, and they build and build until you almost forget there’s supposed to be lyrics for the song, and may not care if anyone ever starts singing.
The best examples are To Wish Impossible Things from Wish, and the exquisite Plainsong and Homesick from Disintegration.
To Wish Impossible Things has only a ninety second intro, but it is one of the most beautiful intros ever written. The violin that starts about a minute into the track is hauntingly, achingly gorgeous, and the buildup to the vocals at the ninety second mark is a tingly, progressive affair. I love this song, despite its heart-breaking lyrics. The black hole of loss it leaves you in doesn’t diminish its beauty.
Plainsong is half intro and half lyrical song. The track lasts for five minutes and fifteen seconds, and two minutes and thirty-five seconds of that is wordless intro. Homesick takes it even further. The intro doesn’t really start to boil over until two and half minutes in and the words don’t start until three minutes and fifteen seconds into the seven minute song. These two songs are also markedly dark and melancholy, and speak of unspeakable loss or the fear of such a loss. Again, this doesn’t detract from their absolute brilliance and beauty.
Second, while The Cure could do dark and gloomy really, really well, their songs at the other end of the spectrum are also incredible and completely different, both in style and mood. The Cure has some wildly happy and exuberant songs, like Friday I’m In Love, High, and Doing the Unstuck from Wish, and of course Love Song from Disintegration (which Adele masterfully covered on her album 21, but listed it as Lovesong, all one word). These uptempo songs have short intros, the longest at thirty seconds and are bursting with happiness, love, affection, and optimism.
There are other masterpieces in between the gloomy and the ecstatic, including the creepily good Lullaby and the oddly indifferent Fascination Street, both on Disintegration, and the Never Enough, Close To Me, and In Between Days remixes on Mixed Up. The originals for the last three are so-so, but the remixes are fantastic.
Third, these songs became a part of my extensive and diverse musical psyche during a remarkably formative time – college. It was a time of happiness, learning, pain, sorrow, and frustration experienced during a time when I was probably as far from God as I had ever been since I was saved. I accidentally and actively rejected any ideas of regular church attendance, finding Christian friends, studying the Bible, or any other activity related to my salvation. How much easier college would have been if I’d had the support of Christian friends, a church community, or if I had simply studied the Word.
I buried myself in these songs, the dark and gloomy for my dark times and the happy and exuberant for my good times. I can vividly remember sitting in front of my tiny aquarium in my dorm room, watching my fish swim around, oblivious to my mood, good or bad, with my stereo (which was my pride and joy at that time) audibly thrusting Disintegration or Wish into my ears, depending on my circumstances. This was my go-to “wild mood swings” music (yes, that’s a reference to another album by The Cure).
It’s why I still listen to The Cure, regardless of my mood.
Thanks for reading to the end of this somewhat longer post. Tomorrow I will get back to posting about the Christian life and contentment. Contentment is why I can listen to The Cure now, as I said above, regardless of my mood. Please join me again tomorrow.