August 17, 2019
I’ve really been looking forward to writing this next part – the last section of the previous instalment felt kind of like homework I had to get through – my listening has been ahead of my writing, and there’s some songs I’m falling in love with on CD-2!
The opener, A Japanese Dream, has really got me at the moment. I love the sense of barely controlled mayhem. Listening feels like you’re inside a giant snow globe that’s being shaken up. Whee! Let’s go for a ride! I love the energy of this song, how its seems to thumb its nose at things, the somewhat manic, all-over-the-place, xylophone-conjuring keyboards, the general pacing, and the sheer impishness of the thing.
I’m very musically drawn to it, so it’s on repeat a lot, especially if I need a bit more energy to do a physical task (like digging a drainage ditch; and Paris is excellent for lawnmowing and pruning ). I remember, in my initial listening for the lyrics, going, “What have we here exactly? Is this a little laboratory report? Is it a hero’s journey? Both? Neither? An actual dream? What is it?” The deciphering is always part of the fun. I’m still digesting that one!
The next track, Breathe, I also clicked with immediately, even with the lyrics so muddled into the song on the car speakers coming back from another bushwalk that I couldn’t initially make out more than that they did actually contain the word “breathe”… I loved the sound and feel of this piece, the same way I love the sound and feel of my favourite classical music pieces. Robert Smith could have been reciting the telephone directory in this one; it would not have been an impediment to me.
…for anyone not in Australia, we have a show called Spicks and Specks, where teams of people engage in music recognition and trivia. One of the tasks they face on every programme is that someone has to sing a popular song, but substitute the lyrics with random material that’s put in front of them, and then the others have to guess what the song is. Variously, the singers are singing from things like cookbooks, quarantine regulations, knitting instructions, etiquette and deportment manuals, famous novels, etc. It really is hilarious, and as hard for the singers to do as for everyone else to guess…
Alas, Robert Smith was not reciting the telephone directory. The lyrics do in fact go with the song, and it’s a beautiful, almost operatic piece – I say almost because opera doesn’t get this good, in my opinion, though close occasionally when you’re listening to the Queen of the Night diving off into the deep end and creating one of the better moments in the genre – this song just really, really speaks to me on some very deep levels. It’s not just what’s conveyed in the words, which in itself is beautiful; it’s the associations that pop up for me. I’ve spent a lot of time with animals and have been there on a number of occasions when animals I’ve known and loved for twenty, thirty years plus are drawing their last breaths, or about to.
The helplessness of sitting on the ground with an old mare with a brain tumour, whom I’d known from her birth, when I realised we weren’t going to be able to stabilise her, and she had her nose in my lap, and I had my arms gently around her head, and said we would take care of her, and I was so, so conscious of her breathing, and that it was going to stop. It’s just this aching, helpless moment, this head-on collision with the mortality of a being you’ve loved, and the mortality of everyone and everything. I first had my arms around a dying horse at the age of 13, the grandmother of the mare I just mentioned above, who had mothered me in some mysterious, but very real, ways in my own rather bleak childhood – she bled out from post-partum haemorrhage, and there was nothing I could do other than be with her.
Do that a few times, and you can’t watch things breathe anymore without the acute understanding that one day this is going to stop. On an intellectual level, I get that and I’m reconciled to it – I understand that this is the way it has to be, for some very important biological reasons, and I also understand that the beauty and extraordinary diversity of species on this planet could not be, were it not for death, which is one of the big drivers of evolution. When I go out into the wilderness, I know I would lay down my own life in order for it to be, which makes it easier – and one day I will be called upon to do exactly that, because new life can’t be born without old life ending.
But, on an emotional level, it’s a different story when confronting the death of individuals you’ve loved a long time. And it transfers even, and especially, to your closest relationship, when you’re holding your very favourite person in the whole universe in your arms and you’re so conscious of their breathing, and because you really, really know that has an end point coming, even if it’s hopefully still more than three decades away – but because you know that, you also really feel how beautiful it is that they are breathing, and it can make you weep with gratefulness and amazement and joy and sadness, and in the acute understanding of the fragility of individual life. So you love and cherish, all the more, because you know how it has to be.
The flash of light between eternities of darkness. On the other hand, the darkness to follow is unlikely to be different to the darkness before, and I don’t spend my life terribly bothered by my absence from history prior to 1971. You don’t feel that darkness, because you’re not there; that darkness and you will never actually meet, because you no longer have a self then – as the Stoic philosophers said a long time ago. It’s the people who have loved you who feel that darkness. But they can carry your light, if you pass it on to them, and the best way to pass on your light is to love others, and the best way to honour beings you have loved and lost is to carry their light.
This leads us smack bang and completely on topic into the next song on CD-2, A Chain Of Flowers. This is why I’m writing this; I’d not in a million years spend so much time writing up something that didn’t deal with things that really matter to me, and didn’t make me think and feel and want to arrange words in the right way. And I’m going to actually post this song, even though most people reading would probably already know it. It’s a very beautiful song, with very beautiful imagery, and it’s better listened to than discussed further.
There’s a terrible beauty in grappling with these things. But there’s also a gentle beauty, and a peace you can find. And above all, there are so many deeply precious moments, exactly because there is an end point.
Here’s another philosophical perspective on all that, which is interesting to think about:
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I’m now going to jump out of order for a minute to have a quick look at Harold And Joe as the last song for today. I want to mention it because it sounds like Robert Smith is channeling Lloyd Cole there!
It’s so uncanny; if you’d just played me that song without telling me who it was by, this would have been my guess. Even the singing is so Lloyd Cole, down in the basement and so stylistically similar here that I’m still double-taking. I like it; and I still listen to a fair bit of Lloyd Cole as well, one of the outliers of the 80s – he always had interesting things to say in his songs, and was influenced by genres I don’t normally listen to, but for some reason his music really worked for me, and still does. It’s very, very competent, and carves out its own niche.
Lloyd Cole was not the sort of artist who was featured on alternative radio stations in Perth in the 80s; they didn’t touch him with a barge pole, considering him too pretty and too boy-band, both of which objections I think are rubbish. Any similarities are merely superficial.
And now another drawer has opened in the cupboard in my head, and this brings me to…
SCENIC SIDE TRIP – 1980s
I’m going to digress for a while to reflect back to being a teenager in the 1980s. It was Thatcher and Reagan internationally (…and you thought it couldn’t get any worse! ), and I was very conscious of what they were doing to the world. At around age 14, formal operational thinking really, really kicks in, and an amazing brain expansion happens if you’re in the right environment. People often vastly underestimate mid-teens; I’ve read many wonderful essays by them, and heard them articulate thoughts that are deep, and clearsighted, and brilliant, and wise, and compassionate, and I’ve often said to them, “What happens to take that away, for a lot of people when they reach adulthood? Please hold on to this – because if you do, your generation will make a better world than ours has done!”
In the 80s, I became very aware of the military-industrial complex that so dominates our society, and of the sociopathic tendencies of many people who hunt out leadership roles, and of the all-pervasive materialism that was exploding all around me. The mainstream pop music seemed to match the materialism and the shallow thinking – it was just a soundtrack to that. And by the way, if you’ve not seen Ashes To Ashes (the UK version), you may want to check it out – it just brilliantly parodies the 80s, and the music selected beautifully supports the critique offered.
So if I was loathing what was going on in mainstream society in the 80s, I was logically also loathing, from around age 14, all the music that sounded like puppets to that. Fairly or not, things like Duran Duran, Wham!, Cindy Lauper, Madonna, and the plethora of shonky electronic pop of the time. Music that seemed to say, “Let’s party while the ship goes down! Me me me! I’ve got mine, I don’t give a damn about you!”
A Perth radio station called 6UVS-FM played alternative music, and had this request show. People who grew up in the age of music-on-tap won’t be able to fully appreciate the lure of those erstwhile request shows – back then, you were so much at the mercy of what people happened to play on the radio, and what you could afford to buy with your meagre kid budget. So request shows gave you a chance to hear again what you couldn’t afford. But 6UVS-FM also had a twist to their request show: You could call in and request that they destroy a particular record on air. This was in the dying days of vinyl, which makes such a pleasing, visceral crunch when destroyed. CDs just can’t compete here! There were a lot of requests for the destruction of Wham! records. There was even a list, in the university charity paper that went around to the high schools, of “100 Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen To A Jason Donovan Record” – and one of the memorable items on that list was, “Rub Drano into my buttocks.”
So, the alternative music scene was a lot of fun like that. You could vent your emotions amongst people who understood and were supportive. And you didn’t have to listen to a bunch of shallow, plasticky music – music that was all the rage at the time and you couldn’t avoid because it was piped into shopping centres and all over the mix tapes that your fellow students brought into art class and mooned over. In the wake of the ongoing auditory assault, you’d go home to detox and to seek out antidotes. Hello, 6UVS-FM! Hello, 96fm Especially For Headphones, and Sunday nights showcasing interesting new music! Hello, small music collection! Hello, paper journal where I can construct my own alternative universe music awards, and write down anything else I want to!
There is a bit of sociology in this. The alternative music scene had a tendency to attract people who were thoughtful and caring and didn’t like a lot of what was going on around them, both on the macro level – the materialism, the waste, the collective narcissism, the short-term thinking, the leaders that had been foisted upon us, the destruction of ecosystems and cultures; and on the micro level – the classroom bullying, the ostracising of people from non-mainstream ethnic groups and people with different sexual orientations and people who simply thought differently, and if you were from a family where there was frequent violence and cruelty, and/or a huge deficit of love, as I was, as quite a few of us are, then that too.
To this day, I can tell more about people I’ve just met by asking them what they like to read and listen to, than by asking them about their daytime jobs or where they live. Music and books and art are about the inside of people, not the outside, and I’m far more interested in what’s really inside the tin than what’s on the label. If the label is showy, it’s funny how often the contents are insipid.
It’s not the 80s anymore, but we still live in an age of fakery, and still have many of the same problems, some of which are really coming home to roost at the moment. There’s that saying, Marry in haste, repent at leisure. Well, doesn’t that make a nice analogy for all sorts of macro things, just now!
I still listen to alternative music, and “alternative” alternative music, and it’s still a wonderful antidote to the ills of this world, and a source of hope because it shows that not every human being is like a lemming, and shows there is much beauty and amazingness in this world and being alive, and it’s also a fuel top-up for your intellectual/emotional tank on which you can go out and do useful things, kind things, constructive things, positive things, creative things, out-of-the-box things, so your own life can be an antidote as well.
There’s a person’s personal circle – the people we know well and love and cheer on, who know us well and love us and cheer us on – but there’s also wider culture, including counter-culture, and the precious understanding, through books and blogs and music and film and art, that in the midst of this giant Titanic sailing full tilt for the iceberg while people drink champagne in the glitzy dining room below with their minds quite vacant, there are other people out there who think carefully and care about things, and don’t like where the ship is heading. In wider culture, we can also have moments of reaching out to each other. If I’ve struck a chord with anyone, that’s nice. Hello, stranger, fellow human, you have my very best wishes for your journey, and my heartfelt thanks for the efforts you make to make a difference somewhere and to someone. ♥
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With all the thinking and feeling that’s elicited when listening to something worthwhile and new to you carefully, this was always going to be an exploration and a map of a personal journey, not a dry song-by-song review. I’m wanting to not just discuss music, but the emotional and cognitive effects it has on a listener, and how it meshes with the life and past experiences of a listener, and fits into the wider scheme of things, and how it matters. I’m not doing this by putting headphones on rabbits – real or metaphorical – but by being the test subject, and basically journalling my experience out loud: Join The Dots intersecting this particular brain, and everywhere that goes.
My normal modus operandi, for most of my life, was to spend hours writing this sort of thing in paper journals which I then locked away in the cupboard. I started doing this as a 14-year-old. Five years ago, I discovered community journalling on my home forum. It’s simply journalling in a space where other people can read what you write – and in community journalling, you “visit” each other and read and leave your own thoughts on what other people are writing. It’s more of a conversation than an isolated experience. Also, I love reading, and am always grateful for people who’ll care enough to sit down and write something that then engages and inspires me – books, blogs, articles, letters, poetry. (I love Charles Dickens for that, and Emily Brontë, and Jane Austen, and James Herriot, and Rudyard Kipling, and Jeanette Winterson, and Joanne Harris, and Haruki Murakami, and JK Tolkien, and CS Lewis, and Jostein Gaarder, and Anna Fienberg, and Peter Høeg, and Kate Grenville, and John Wyndham, and WB Yeats, and ee cummings, and Judith Wright, and JK Rowling, and many others, including Cherilyn Clough from Little Red Survivor, my lovely writing sister Elizabeth Bouvier-Fitzgerald, and my Grass Roots and open-journalling communities; and I send big, respectful air kisses to them all, dead or alive. Mwah!)
I realised one day that I could return the favour, and started doing public writing, beginning with alternative magazines and then even open-journalling, once I got over the trepidation of revealing quite personal things about myself on the public record. And then it goes “click” – and you realise that part of our problem in wider society is that we don’t talk enough about the things that really matter, because they are so personal, and that really, all the books and music I’d ever been especially drawn to did exactly the thing I was frightened of doing myself, when I was away from the comfort zone of my paper journal and my own personal circle and my classroom groups. There are such things as safe spaces to open up in – the mass media probably isn’t one, although I know people who try, and admire that. It’s good role modelling, and the more it’s done, the easier it gets for others. Also, you can grow a teflon shield to go with your open heart.
We can’t read or listen to everything that speaks to us, but we can make sure when we’re reading and listening to favour things that are going to be nourishing to us, or at least useful in some way; and we can also make sure that when we’re giving back, we’re giving it our best shot to produce something from our own authentic selves that will strike chords with someone out there, get some people out there thinking and feeling and laughing, and crying sometimes too, because of how life is. You can’t hide your light without detriment to yourself and others – so bring it out and shine it on things, and help make flowers that may be hidden from your sight bloom in turn. As others did for you. ♥
I will continue with CD-2 next post – after a few days’ break; other things to do! At this stage, I’m not expecting another side trip this lengthy. Probably a few little ones.
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August 23, 2019
I’m up to my usual trick of listening ahead and finding things that really appeal to me, and then feeling like it’s homework to talk about the next songs in sequence, which I’m not swinging off the trees with excitement about.
Have you ever been to a Smorgasbord? I used to go for my birthday as a university student, when I was living off my $60 per week student allowance back in the late 80s / early 90s, and half of that was rent in a dingy share apartment. So, I used to go past the dried apricots when shopping, and swear to myself that when I graduated and started working fulltime, I would buy all the dried apricots I wanted, and also all the fresh fruit and vegetables that my budget didn’t allow for (I wasn’t yet growing my own), and I wouldn’t live primarily off liver, cheddar cheese, 2-minute noodles, tinned tuna, cooking chocolate, oats, apples, onions, celery and potatoes – I’d have a more varied diet.
But I saved up my pennies so that for my birthday, I could go to a Smorgasbord. And once a year, I ate all the things that were not usually available to me: Prawns, really nice fish, asparagus, exotic salads, lots of strawberries, blueberries, and the desserts: Tiramisu, Crème Caramel, Trifle, Profiteroles, etc. It was sort of like an annual food orgy. I’d spend three hours there, loading food into a famished frame that went everywhere by bicycle or on foot. I didn’t need to diet, I needed to eat properly. Between the ages of 16 and 20, I worked out that I could maximise the amount of desserts I could eat in one night by cycling through savoury – sweet rotations. I usually managed four on Smorgasbord night. I’d finish with Profiteroles and then feel so replete I’d just sit there grinning like the Cheshire cat. I’d not be able to move for another half hour. The mere idea of eating anything else would make me laugh until I had tears running down my face.
What do you like to eat at a Smorgasbord? What are your favourite things?
And why am I banging on about a Smorgasbord? Because some bands are like seafood specialist restaurants, and some are like curry houses, and some are like wood-fired Italian pizza places, and others like McDonalds – known for a particular, distinctive (or not so distinctive) sort of thing. Well, The Cure is like a Smorgasbord, with all sorts of musical things on offer. You can listen to them for long intervals of time just by changing between different things when you’ve had enough of one. And because they’re a Smorgasbord, and you’re an individual, there’s going to be some things you’d rather not eat, but that’s OK. Someone else will put it on their plate, and be happy.
I don’t like stuffed capsicums, or pineapple in any form except on Toast Hawaii, or mangoes or papayas. Brett can’t stand bananas, cheesecake, blue-vein cheeses, and coriander leaves. And neither of us really like pop music all that much. I also generally don’t like stuff I call headache music – heavy metal, opera, rap, other stuff with to me unpleasant elements and monotonous repetition, which I talked about in a previous post. And I think like food preferences, our music preferences are to do with our biochemistry – and in the case of music, specifically with how our brains work and the experiences we’ve had (which are more biochemistry).
So my general impressions trawling through the back catalogue by The Cure these past five years or so have been that the standard of the dishes on offer is generally very high, even if I don’t like some of them and will take my plate over to other options instead.
Today, I’m going to discuss a couple of songs following on from the last lot I looked at and swooned over, which I don’t like so much. And also, since this doesn’t have to be a monologue, I would be really interested to hear from people who like the things I do not, and can tell me what makes it work for them. What is it about the music, and / or is it the associations that pop up in your mind – is it a soundtrack to a particular significant experience for you, or a link with good memories that were being made when you first heard it, for instance?
Some songs will forever recall for me particular scenery I was in at the time of first hearing them, or particular times in my life, for example. I’ve got U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name forever associated with a 6-hour solo walk I did along the Harvey River and Peel-Harvey Estuary, complete with swimming across the river, when I was 16; and with the smell of crushed mint when I was resting in the grass, and flocks of sea birds rising en masse off the estuary, and the way the light played on the water. I wasn’t carrying a walkman, I was carrying the song in my head, from my first couple of listens of the album it was on, and it popped up because it fitted the scenery, and became forever married to that particular experience for me. More recently, that happened for me when we played a newly acquired Sharon Shannon album going around the peninsula from Huonville through Cygnet and Flowerpot and Kettering and Snug on a trip around Tasmania – now I always see that scenery when I listen to that album – in part because it was such a good fit for it!
David Bowie’s Changes was playing on the radio when I was 13 and coming to grips with leaving childhood. That fitted the situation as well, and various others on the journey since then. Mike Scott did a sung version of Greensleeves which goes, “I’ll build you a home in the meadow” – and I discovered that one just as we were starting the task of building our own home in the meadow, literally so, back in 2011. It became like a theme song for that long process, of Brett and me fronting up for years to put it all together until it was done, and here we are. And Jenny Thomas, an Australian violinist probably best known internationally for playing her fiddle on the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, has done a track called Sweet Tooth which to me embodies so much about living where we do, and with each other. It’s a lilting tune with little catches in it that make my heart flip over. You won’t find it anywhere on the Internet; it’s off her album Into The Ether.
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So having said all that, I’m going to start talking about the next bunch of songs on CD-2, briefly!
Snow In Summer jars me musically; I think it’s sort of “boy music” more likely to appeal to males. I don’t like all the banging and jarring in it; borders on headache-land for me. Lyrically it’s sweet enough, and I think it’s sex dressed up in a landscape-and-meteorological-events metaphor (but then sex itself can be so metaphorical too). But hey, maybe that’s just my dirty mind speaking. (Would you like to take my standard “Do You Have A Dirty Mind” test? If so, answer the question: In which place do most people have curly black hair? …answer at the end of this post! )
I’d like to point out I completely avoid reading sleeve notes or other people’s interpretations of songs when I’m listening to newly acquired music. I want to have a go at decoding things myself without prejudice / easy answers / cheat sheets; and let the chips fall where they may. Later on, after that initial phase, I’ll get around to reading sleeve notes and perhaps look at other people’s ideas – but I’m not at that point yet, with this collection of songs. So, I will often find other ways of looking at something by looking around, after I’ve come up with my own hypotheses. It’s good brain training to think as far as you can yourself first.
Sugar Girl is a bit saccharine for my taste, but it’s also well done, conjuring up for me boys in their early to mid-teens and not quite caught up with the girls their age yet physically and emotionally, but with this yearning in them for something they can’t quite reach yet. I had a boy in a class of 14-year-olds once who was such a sweet kid. I had a habit of stapling Freddo Frogs to particularly good assignment efforts, and if he ever got one, he’d carefully split it exactly in three and then share it with the two girls sitting either side of him. I always used to turn away to hide my smile so I’d not spoil the moment for him, or draw excessive attention to that little scene. He was sharing genuinely with these girls he was good friends with, not trying to buy advantage for himself. I also knew from my friend Maggie, who was teaching him English, that he wrote the most ardent love poetry and that one of his poems ended, “Will you marry me?” We laughed and cried when she related that to me. It’s hard to explain – these kids can be so sweet, and they’re half-fledged, like adolescent albatrosses about to take their first plunge off a cliff. And you’re sort of taking turns sitting on them and keeping them warm, when you’re teaching them, and then you get all teary when you see them fly.
Icing Sugar isn’t doing anything for me musically, there’s too much banging on in it and not enough complexity to get me interested. The saxophone is, well, a saxophone. Lyrically, on first encounter, I find it unsettling, like the movie Psycho, and I don’t like the way it’s sung either. The whole thing just puts me on edge and feels really unpleasant to me.
Hey You again isn’t my cup of tea in any way, shape or form; and musically, neither is How Beautiful You Are. Lyrically, that track is a mixed bag for me, and that’s where I will pick up next time. I’ll have more fun with this next time, because there are a couple of tracks coming up which I really like…
(Answer to test question above: In Africa. How did you go? )
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August 27, 2019
Just as an editing note, a reminder that I listen to new material cold and just with what I bring to it, and don’t look up context etc until after I’ve journalled an initial response. It was later pointed out to me that this song was based on a poem by Baudelaire, who I am glad to say we were not made to study at school, and for whom, when I looked at more of his work, I have no inclination whatsoever – I find him illogical as well as viscerally repugnant.
DEBUNKING POETIC FALLACIES
Why How Beautiful You Are is a mixed bag to me lyrically:
With the story told in this song, on the one hand I can feel for the narrator, and on the other I entirely disagree with his conclusion, and I will explain why.
The story starts like this: Two lovers are walking in Paris – such a popular-culture epitome of romance it’s almost a cliché (and why should it matter, etc, but you can see that it does to a lot of people even when you look at the back of cosmetics containers, where ingredients are commonly written in French, because eau somehow sounds so much more impressive than water or, God forbid, H2O ). I’d guess them to be in their 20s, because of the notions raised in the song, about what love should be – and I’m not suggesting everyone in their 20s believes this, or that some people 30+ don’t. It’s just related to mature views of love versus more problematic views of love, and we tend to acquire more mature views of things over time.
Anyway, this presumably young couple are walking along happily when something occurs to disillusion the narrator: His beloved has a response to some obviously poor people which he finds distressing.
I can understand the distress – to an extent. However, here’s his conclusion:
And this is why I hate you
And how I understand
That noone ever knows or loves another.
So, we’re going from, “I’m having a problem with my lover’s response to that social scenario, I’m maybe afraid she’s cold, lacks compassion, is self-centred, doesn’t really look at people carefully, I’m definitely upset that we’re not on the same wavelength here…”
…to, “And therefore, I know nobody can ever really know or love anyone.”
This is one heck of an overstretch. Do you know the saying, If you think there’s good in everybody, then you obviously haven’t met everybody? Or, Just because you’ve only ever seen black crows all your life doesn’t mean all crows are necessarily black? Beware, in other words, of jumping to general conclusions based on your limited personal experience.
Because the narrator didn’t hitherto know this thing about his lover, means nobody anywhere can possibly really know or love anybody else? Tell that to two still-in-love octogenarians who’ve been having authentic, open, honest conversations for their 50-plus years of marriage – and who moved beyond starry-eyed notions of romantic love, and projecting their own fantasies onto their partners, a long time ago. And, not everybody is Jack The Ripper hiding a double life, either, in case anyone wants to raise that example, and extrapolate from it.
You just simply can’t conclude from your own inability to do a certain thing that nobody else can therefore do it either. There’s many things I can’t do, that other people can. But, there’s also many things I can’t do, that I can learn to do with education and practice, and for the narrator to prematurely conclude on the basis of their particular disconcerting experience even just that they themselves will never truly know or love anyone is actually something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is going to make an obstacle in front of you if you believe it.
It’s far more constructive to come away from a disappointing experience like that by thinking, “So, I thought I knew this person, but clearly there’s stuff I didn’t know, and likely more unknown things still. How can we know each other better? And this reaction of hers really bugs me, but does it have to be set in stone? Can she develop insight here, and see that the message she received from her ‘environmental / social inputs’ is not actually the message these people intended to send out? Can she grow and develop like this? Can I grow and develop in ways that would be helpful to me, and to my partner? (Hey, maybe she’s just really uncomfortable being ogled by strangers for whatever reason, have I asked her about that and tried to understand her perspective, or have I leapt to other conclusions about it?)” And if the answer is yes – and that depends on the attitudes of both people concerned – then as a result of that particular challenge, the couple will actually know and love one another better than before they were tested this way. One is a castle in the air, the other is a tested and overcome bit of reality.
I was talking about love and maturity earlier; the opener, “Want to know why I hate you?” was a factor here, but mostly I was thinking of this idea from the song:
(We) promised to each other we’d always think the same
And dreamed that dream
To be two souls as one
It’s such a fallacy to think that you have to have exactly the same opinions on everything, in order to love one another. You’re not sheep, and you’re not lobotomised – you’re (presumably) thinking, feeling individuals with different sets of life experiences. I’ve heard it said, If two people think exactly alike, one of them is superfluous – and there’s something to that, if you’re interested in evolving as a human being.
To love another person only insofar as they duplicate your own opinions, ideas, feelings and desires isn’t actually love, it’s very close to narcissism: “I can only love what I see in the mirror, only love what is exactly like me.” A good relationship is a negotiation, a conversation, a nutting out why you have differences, a mutual stretching, and above all, respecting each other, including your differences. That’s the hallmark of maturity in love. It’s not very mature or noble to get on a high horse and assume you’ve got this super-elevated view, and if the other person doesn’t share it, you get to hate them, and make universal conclusions about the ability of anyone else in existence to know and love one another. I mean, wake up and smell the coffee, here. Start examining your own assumptions about the world, about the situation that upset you, about yourself, and about your lover, before you start throwing stones at her, or anybody else.
I think the narrator has a pretty immature life perspective here, and not a very logical one, but I can empathise with him a little, plus he’s probably young and hasn’t learnt any better yet. But here he is, beautiful girl on his arm, he’s besotted, he’s proud of her, his imagination is running away with him, he’s feeling so close (but feelings are feelings and reality is reality; strong feelings aren’t love, but often confused as such – love is an attitude, is caring and respect and a ‘doing’ thing, and it’s not always smooth sailing). And now, he’s confronted with people obviously doing it tough, unlike him, and he’s got this sort of survivor’s guilt thing going on. And they’re looking at his girl, and what he sees in the way they are looking is that they think she’s beautiful. He may or may not be correct here. He obviously thinks she’s beautiful, and he may sometimes project his own feelings onto other people. These people almost certainly mean no harm, no imposition. They’re looking, and sometimes you can’t help looking.
And now she notices them looking, and she’s uncomfortable about that. And he’s upset because instead of feeling whatever sadness and compassion he’s feeling for them, she seems to see them as insects, “Make them go away!” and suddenly she seems harsh and selfish to him, and his rose-tinted ideas about how one-in-mind-and-soul they are as a couple are rudely shattered.
But this is where people need to have debriefings, serious conversations about stuff, and check things out, instead of kneejerk reacting like this, and leaping to all sorts of probably incorrect conclusions about love, each other and the human race. And also, it helps to get rid of the rose-tinted spectacles. Reality might sometimes surprise you pleasantly as well.
Ah love! How many songs have been written about it, how much poetry, how many stories. Sometimes I do wish that older people were more proportionally represented especially in contemporary music, so people 40+ wouldn’t be, whenever they turn on the radio, constantly having to hear the common misconceptions of people who are relatively new to love, and still have so much basic stuff to nut out. But, popular music is disproportionately written by young people.
Having said that, of course The Cure have stayed with us – which is excellent – in spite of what a certain singer said about being too old for this business at the ripe old age of 25; and continued to write as they have gotten older, and have shown plenty of evidence of growing and evolving as human beings, and having important insights over the course of time. And of course, artistic license decrees that not every song has to be about you, and that your narrator can be a construct with which you’re making a point (as in Bob Geldof’s The Great Song Of Indifference, to give a notable example). Whatever the case may be with this particular song, it certainly provides a scenario that’s an excellent springboard for discussions about the nature of love and relationships, and those discussions are always worth having.
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This actually got a reply from a regular.
SueC I’m loving this last comment, I totally agree with what you’re saying.
I actually have a theory on some of RS’s lyrics… I wonder if sometimes he may say stuff to try get the listener to think for themselves, and how he goes about doing that may be a bit indirect or upside-down. For example in these lyrics I don’t think he’s actually believing what he’s saying, but is perhaps saying something that elicits a response (perhaps similar to your own) in response. So the lyrics aren’t telling us what to think (I don’t think he’d want that from the listener, to blindly agree with what he says), but perhaps I feel they may be intended to be a catalyst to stir something in us. Perhaps it’s completely in sync with your statement that …
“You’re not sheep, and you’re not lobotomised”
Maybe he wants us all to WAKE UP
…that’s my guess anyway. ?
Hullo, @word_on_a_wing !
I’m neutral on this subject, because I’m not a mind-reader, nor do I have aspirations to become one! I’m just going by general literary conventions, and by what I know about people’s changing perspectives over the course of a lifetime. This is sometimes (unfairly) summarised as: Young people think old people are fools. Old people know young people are fools.
One of the biggest laughs I ever got was a group of senior students, when I played them The Great Song Of Indifference, getting all outraged over what a nasty man that singer was! They had the same response to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. This particular group had difficulty with the idea of parody, and had to have it broken down into little pieces and spoonfed to them. While it was funny, it was also disconcerting, because in my prior experience, mid-to-late teens had been rather cluey about this sort of thing. I wondered what had gotten in the water that year.
Of course, in the case we’ve been discussing, the possibility does exist that the writer once believed what the narrator believed – after all, none of us are born super-wise, and we have to learn a lot of stuff through bitter experience. A lot of teenagers believe this sort of stuff about love – age 3 and the teenage years are both a bit coloured by self-absorption, and narrow ideas about having to be one and the same to call it love. It would be a bit unrealistic to expect the writer of these lyrics didn’t go through that stage as well. But you’re right too, that sometimes the best way to make a point is to be rather sly and write from a perspective you don’t share at that point, and see which way people float! You could have a lot of fun with that one. And sometimes, with keeping people guessing.
I used to say random outrageous things to students a bit, so they’d question question question what people in authority positions were saying to them. We had rolling power outages at one point, and I had this Year 8 class when the power went off, and I said to them, “Of course, none of this matters for my dinner, because I have a microwave oven and the microwaves have not been turned off, so I’ll just cook in the microwave tonight.” And waited, with my poker face on, just looking at them. Until, about a minute later, one of them said, “Are you making a joke?”
It’s fun working with the public!
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CONVERSATION ON “THE ONLY ONE” VS LED ZEPPELIN
Then came a request:
And Sue I would VERY much welcome you to analyse the lyrics of The Only One
…as a female I find the lyrics very distasteful. (I’m not sure if I’m being ridiculous about it or oversensitive?) Anyway I would truly celebrate a strong articulate female such as yourself giving your views. I say feel free to take a sledgehammer to it! ?
Oh, that song! ? Haha! You know, I wrote a response essay to an official essay that appeared in The Monthly, by an official music critic, who was presenting, in my view, a very lopsided idea of The Cure, and of audience-music interaction in general. One of her in my view misguided ideas was that Robert Smith was a very, in her words, coy writer, and I actually used that song as a counter-example, because I would not have been able to use that one in the classroom, it’s too graphic. (The Monthly thanked me kindly, but declined the essay, saying it didn’t suit their style. Bwahaha, of course not. ? But it’s online, anyway, in case any nerdy people enjoy reading 7000 words about this subject.)
But did I get offended by that song? No, I didn’t, and I’ll tell you why. Because I’m in my late 40s, and married, and I think it’s high time someone exploded this youth culture myth that we’re just knitting these days, and playing lawn bowls. This is peak sexuality, in my experience, unless it gets better yet. And this fact was a big, and very pleasant, surprise to me, after all the press about that I heard all my life.
I’m not quite sure I’d comfortably write using those exact same expressions, but I’m me, and that’s not the point. I think I like to dress things up a bit more, be more metaphorical and murky. But what if someone says, “Well, I’m fed up with it, and I’m going to be direct about it this time!”?
But this is an interesting subject to discuss, where do we draw the lines? That’s a personal thing, an individual thing. (And by the way, what you find distasteful personally is what it is, it’s a boundary you have, and that you have every right to have – you don’t need to worry about being ridiculous or oversensitive – those words may have in the past been used to push at your boundaries, by people who didn’t respect them. It doesn’t matter if your boundary around something is tighter or in different places to someone else’s, because that’s your boundary, and you can put it exactly where you feel comfortable, and nobody should judge you for it, and if they do, that’s their problem, not yours.)
I’m interested in what exactly you find offputting about the song. Is it the unsubtle nature of the descriptions? The apparent references to oral sex? Something else? I know I personally couldn’t sing it. I’d blush to death, but you know, I’m also really funny about language around sex, and one of my pet hates is people not using correct medical terminology for genitalia, especially in the bedroom. (Not a problem I’ve had to deal with since meeting my husband, thank goodness. Because I think half the world exists in a gutter, not to mention desperately needs a dictionary and a Thesaurus, and to seriously engage with both of these.) Colloquialisms freeze me up not just on that level, but on the emotional and intellectual levels as well. As does the use of the term of endearment, “baby” – because I find that so incredibly infantilising. I’m a highly pedantic language nerd, and people need to watch their vocabulary around me, bwahahaha.
So I tell you what, having asked you to articulate what you’re offended by with The Only One, I noticed you like Led Zeppelin, and I can do a similar exercise by telling you about a song they did I found incredibly offensive from the first time I heard it, and why – and you can tell me what you think. To clarify, I don’t hate Led Zeppelin, I think they have some great songs, but I do loathe this particular song, have done so for over 30 years, and also loathe the sort of macho presentation they embodied.
The song I totally loathe is Whole Lotta Love, everything about it. The reason is because to me, first of all, I wish they’d stop misappropriating the term love for what they’re actually talking about. We really don’t need that term made more abused than it already is by popular music, certain areas of fiction, etc. The song should have, by all rights, been called Whole Lotta Sex. Brett, who’s very practical, says that this was not an option if they didn’t want to get banned from the radio at the time, but I think they could have found some other title that didn’t have the word love misapplied in it. Even worse is this whole misogynistic “let me give you a lesson in what you really need” idea, which underpins toxic masculinity – this dreadful sense of entitlement and superiority. It really makes me retch. Thank goodness not all men are like this, but I’ve seen enough of those attitudes to know it’s very much around.
I don’t see any evidence of toxic masculinity in The Only One, just someone who’s being very direct about an aspect of life worth celebrating, although if you’re going to be this graphic in public, you’d better have cleared it with your partner first!
So yeah, very interested in how you think / feel about those two songs! All of us come with skewed vision, and it’s often vision-correcting to talk to other people whose vision might be skewed in a different direction! Vision and boundaries are different things, of course – and while we can help each other see better, boundaries are a sacred personal thing we should treat with respect.
So nice to have someone join in the discussion! 🙂 Have a wonderful week.
August 28, 2019
There was now a long response, which I replied to in sections:
What is it about The Only One? …I’m finding it hard to completely work it out, and have been thinking about it lots today. So far my thinking is…
At a surface level I think the unsubtle phrasing, the obvious sexual references bothers me a bit.
I’ve come to understand that I feel sex is a sacred thing. While it can be approached and experienced in an animalistic way, it can also be approached and experienced in an elevated and (beyond merely physical), energetic, expansive, divine way.
Yeah, I get why it’s possible to feel this way, and felt like that myself a lot more as a younger person than I do now. I hated then, and I still hate now, the cheapening of sexuality, and the commodification of it. Another thing neither of us go near recreationally is pornography, which by the way is also very scripted, and so deadening to the imagination from our point of view. I’m completely disinterested, on a sexual level, in what other people get up to, because that’s private stuff in my world – not a spectator sport (but it still needs to be talked about, and there are productive ways to do that). I found it really interesting that my husband wasn’t particularly drawn to that either, other than curiosity in high school – given the male brain, and all of that! But he says that while he responds to visuals, where’s the story? Where’s the people, in that? So it just bored him. He has a fabulous imagination he’s nurtured all his life, through books and art and music, and that serves him well in many ways, including in that aspect of life. I feel really lucky to be married to someone like this.
And here’s the funny thing: When you’re in a safe space like that, in a relationship where you are genuinely loved for your whole person, the physical aspect of sex is no longer, in my experience, a “lesser” thing, as opposed to the “higher” meanings and metaphor etc etc. It’s in itself a sacred thing, and I no longer have any reason to view it with suspicion. Of course, I see that from the inside, and that’s different from seeing it from the outside – sex really doesn’t make a good spectator sport, not to me.
I had to spend a lot of time reclaiming my sexuality, because of the emotional incest and inappropriatenesses in my childhood, and just the controlling and shaming in my family of origin. The vibes they gave off about sexuality were poisonous. There were no loving role models. I didn’t understand until after I was diagnosed with complex PTSD in my early 40s that my body really, truly was my own, and to see the layers of shame over sex that were still background noise for me – this was an emotional thing, rather than an intellectual thing. And confronting my background head-on also had the fortuitous side-effect of throwing off those shackles for me. It’s really amazing not to carry those shadows around, and just to be who you are, and to own your own body in that way, and to have absolutely no negativity or shame about the physical aspects of sex anymore. And my husband never had any of that BS in the first place, so that was helpful too.
So you know, that changed how I look at sexuality, and stopped me looking at the “mere physical” versus the “higher” stuff. It’s just one thing to me, two sides of the same coin, but a transparent coin – I don’t have to compartmentalise sex that way anymore. And I do think the physical is totally worth celebrating, and not lesser-than, not in this context anyway. You know who’s good on this? Esther Perel, who has a lot of interesting things to say about eroticism.
I didn’t hear The Only One until last year, and once I’d gotten over my initial, “Is he really singing that???” I very rapidly thought, “Well, OK, that’s really what most of us are doing in some way, shape or form, we’re just not talking about it that openly.” And interestingly, the song represents us, too – aspects of our own relationship. I also thought it was high time that someone nearing 50 said, in the context of youth culture, “Hold on a minute, don’t think for one moment you’ve got the monopoly on this!” Because there is no monopoly, there are just all these misconceptions. And I’ve been an educator most of my life (including of sex education courses to teenagers, which never fazed me by the way, one of my qualifications is a degree in biology, and I have an excellent sense of humour and had absolutely no compunctions about delivering the curriculum in that area, including the highly fun carrots-and-condoms practicals which are de rigeur here), and I do think this is something people should understand. If someone goes out on a limb and shares their own story, then that is far more effective than reading about it in a textbook.
(Just in postscript, you can see where my own line is in writing about this sort of thing here – that’s about as far as I will go, with a general reading audience. We just hope our parents stay away from it. )
In response to:
Therefore the sort of language he uses, to me really misses the mark. It also surprises me to hear him use this language, as I though he had more depth and understanding than what these lyrics seem to convey.
When you’ve got five minutes to convey something, you’re not going to write a treatise on sexuality, you’re just going to pick an aspect!
In response to:
…But that sounds a bit detached or judgmental and that’s not my intention… to be honest I think it also effects me more personally because I find myself feeling warm and fuzzy feelings towards him (if you get my gist ?) but for reasons completely opposite to these lyrics. A gentle loving man is my ‘cup of tea’ and how he comes across in this song is like a rude shock.
Gentle loving men are wonderful cups of tea, and exist in this world. Some of them are even single! Don’t accept pale imitations.
And your gentle loving man may very well let his hair down with you and you with him, too!
I think there’s more, not just about this song, but more generally some other stuff I’m processing and making sense of…
If you want to hit this ball around, I’ll be in it! ?
I’ll listen to and think about the LedZep stuff in coming days! Dog needs walking…
August 29, 2019
In response to:
Led Zeppelin… I actually thought you were gonna say The Lemon Song, those lyrics are even worse in my opinion.
I’d never heard that song, and still haven’t, because reading the lyric sheet was enough…
So what was LedZep’s main crowd when they were singing things like this? Emotionally immature “tough guys” who wanted to feel in control? And who were clueless about women while parading themselves as sex gods?
This is really amusing though:
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby
[Guitar Solo Hook]
This competes quite favourably with the Beatles’ “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” choruses! Saves all that inconvenient having to remember cohesive sentences and all that.
In response to:
Not to try justify it, but I think some of their lyrics are to do with the roots in their music being in early blues standards. For example their song I Can’t Quit You Baby was written by Willie Dixon, and I find a lot of their music maintained similar bones/structure to these sort of early blues standards, both musically, but also lyrically. I feel this also occurred with The Doors, as for example Willie Dixon also wrote Backdoor Man which The Doors later covered, and Then a while later they wrote Build Me A Woman and songs like that (have you seen those lyrics!). …geez some of these men need a strong woman to kick them up the arse! Perhaps redefine the meaning of Backdoor Man ?
I think together women have better things to do than beat their heads against a wall. It sort of reminds me of a friend of mine, who once said to a guy like that, “If you were the last man on earth, I’d resort to a cucumber.” If you’re an adult – whatever gender – and you want to have adult-to-adult interactions in a relationship instead of parent-child interactions, then you’ve got to pick another adult to do that with, not a child masquerading as an adult.
People really need to mature for themselves, and be the ones to make it happen. It’s everyone’s own responsibility to do that. Noone else can, or should, do it for them.
In response to:
I’m wondering also about whether the vocalisations in Whole Lotta Love perhaps also contribute to why you loathe that song? If so can I suggest checking out Achilles Last Stand particularly from 6min onwards. That song really helped me hear and appreciate Robert Plant’s vocalisations in a new way.
Yeah, I don’t know, on songs like that he always gives me the heebiejeebies, like fingernails down the blackboard, with his singing. I’ve never liked it when people do most of their singing towards the top of their vocal range, it’s like playing everything on the E-string of a violin. Sort of like in this:
I find it nicer if they sing mainly in their middle range, and then go up and down from there. Alternatively, if they want to do a submarine excursion into their lower range, and stay there a bit, that’s also often fine by me.
And Robert Plant does have a nice voice when he’s not singing like a hyena. Good singing on this cover.
Maybe that was his way of making humble reparation to the universe for all those shocking lyrics sung with a “my pants are too tight” voice.
It was certainly a change of direction…
PS to anyone new to this thread – we are currently meandering, and will be returning to B-sides when I’ve listened to the next CD a couple of times.
August 29, 2019
In response to:
“OMG, @word_on_a_wing! ? I’d never heard that song, and still haven’t, because reading the lyric sheet was enough…”
Glad to have shared this gem with you. Now I’m racking my mind for other shockers …??
“shocking lyrics sung with a “my pants are too tight” voice.”
…yep that’s a fair statement ?
Dear @word_on_a_wing , I have been racking my brains to find lyrics of a similar calibre to the ones you have lately provided with which to return the favour, but regrettably to no avail so far. I simply have nothing that competes, although I am sure such items exist. All I can tell you is that to me, the popular number Achy Breaky Heart achieves towering heights of awfulness in relation to a whole spectrum of criteria – but the song is simply outdone by The Lemon Song on lyrical OMG-ness, and I never thought I’d be able to say that. I thank you heartily for educating me on this front, and hope I can somehow repay you for this service.
…how do you like this little snippet though, from The Smiths: Let me get my hands / on your mammary glands. Personally, I want to give it some awards, but I’m still trying to work out what sorts of awards. I do have to give them points for use of anatomically correct language; it’s so much more refined than “Show us your tits!” – for which I’ve long loved our Kaz Cooke’s comeback, “You can always tell a bottle-fed baby!” That Smiths line is so, “Oh, I’ve met an anatomy student!” and kind of begs the comeback, “Let me stimulate your bulbourethral gland for you!” – if you’re contemplating taking them up on the offer. And you can just imagine how this conversation then proceeds… “Your labia minora are like rose petals!” – “Thank you kindly, and you have a very fine prepuce in excellent working order!” and so forth…
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And thusly, much hair was let down. Now returning to core business – the rest of CD-2!
To The Sky is the next track on CD-2, and this is once again something that really appeals to me musically and lyrically. I’m a big Wordsworth fan, so of course this sort of thing is going to go well with me…
It’s really nice to have regular instalments of lyrics of this sort coming from a contemporary band. A lot of people in that industry wouldn’t give a fig about that stuff, and be too “cool” to care about landscapes, flowers and so forth. But Robert Smith is capable of penning gorgeous imagery, in impressionistic splotches of complementary colours, flowing down the stream of consciousness. I’m glad he doesn’t feel too “cool” to air these things. Here’s the start of To The Sky:
One perfect morning
I was all alone
The blaze of summer
Drifting, I was falling
I was floating in a golden haze
Breathing in the sky blue sounds
Of memories of other days
And in my dreams I was a child
Flowers in my mouth and in my eyes
And I was floating through the colors of a sky
Up to the stars and angels
It immediately recalls for me so many times from childhood onwards I’ve lain on my back on the earth, looking at the sky and listening to the sounds all around, crickets, songbirds, humming bees, rustling leaves, slants of light through the trees, and then closing my eyes with the sunlight on my face, and seeing other colours dance in the red-gold behind my lids. It’s such a key moment of being human, of letting go and just being, of integrating with nature – and that’s becoming a forgotten thing, in this age of hothoused childhoods and screens everywhere.
I just wanted to award some extra points for Breathing in the sky blue sounds / of memories of other days – the multi-sensory sandwiching there, of colour, sound, breath and memory, which I’ve seen Robert Smith do in other songs like this as well – it’s so effective, and so wonderfully evocative. I’m stapling a metaphorical Freddo Frog to this metaphorical assignment…excellent.
Next, Babble – I love experimental stuff like this. I’m assuming everyone reading either has Join The Dots or knows how to look up the tracks on YouTube etc, so I don’t post all the songs, but:
I will also post something else experimental I love, from around about that era:
Out Of Mind is just conjuring up car crashes for me – if I ever want to trigger a migraine, this is one sure way to do it. To avoid this predicament, I’ve looked at a lyric sheet, and now I want to tell everyone a joke: A man goes to the doctor, and says, “It hurts when I do this.” The doctor says to him, “Don’t do this, then. That’ll be $50, thank you.”
2 Late, on the other hand, is a gorgeous, impressionistic, bittersweet song, so much like the sort of things I know The Sundays for, actually. I always enjoy that kind of music.
And I love love love Fear Of Ghosts, it’s got such wonderful atmosphere… lovely, lovely music.
The lyrics make me think all sorts of things, mostly a gratefulness that in spite of the horrors I’ve had in my own life when I was younger, I’ve never quite gotten this bleak. Another friend with complex PTSD and I, from similar cabinets of horror in childhood, were talking about this last year; the survival instinct is so strong that you just don’t go there, you just don’t go to the bottom of the black hole. We were also sort of wondering why some people seem to go looking for trouble, for a pool of darkness to bathe in, if they’ve come from comparatively happy childhoods. We’ve had so much darkness already, more than enough for our lifetimes, and we got away from it, painstakingly, by becoming independent adults and then working through the BS that had been left in our heads and hearts, and making so many mistakes along the way, and we prefer to spend our time contemplating beauty than deliberately seeking out more desolation. This is why I’ve never, ever gone near recreational drugs, and never intoxicated myself on alcohol. Complex PTSD and those things are never a happy combination – you’ve got your hands full already, without introducing more complications into the mix. Obviously I didn’t know I had cPTSD as a teenager, but the survival instinct was there, and said, “You need to concentrate on getting out of here, and you’re going to need all of your brain cells to do it, and you really don’t need to dig another hole for yourself.”
This is not a snipe at people who’ve gone down the road of recreational drugs and binge drinking – we all have to choose for ourselves what we do in our own lives. For me personally it was unthinkable, and because of that, I managed to reach the surface after a long, long deep-dive in the darkness and the cold, and I am so happy to be where I am now. I had an uncle who was an alcoholic; my father is workaholic, my mother a TV addict. I wanted to be as functional as possible, as human as possible, and to really live, without falling down holes that were avoidable. I’m glad that I’ve been a productive, contributing, human member of the community in my adulthood to date, while never forgetting how amazing it is to have that flash of light between the two eternities of darkness, and how beautiful many aspects of the universe are. I’m glad I never gave up on hope, even when things were hard, and to have it comparatively easy now, in my 40s, in all sorts of ways; and most of all, by being in a meaningful relationship that’s now been with me a quarter of my life to date and that compensates me to overflowing for all the things I lived without for so, so long, and especially real family (instead of a fakery, like Neil Gaiman’s Other Mother), and home. Nothing like deprivation to give you appreciation when you get there. I really, really feel love, and beauty, and amazement, in all sorts of instances where “normal” adults have become so blunted. So the time in the coal hole has resulted in dazzlement with the light for me, and I have so much joy as a result.
Back to reviewing.
The Hello I Love You covers were talked about before, at the start of the last instalment. That Doors song has never worked for me, not musically and not lyrically – I consider that really cheap chatup and would have dripped with sarcasm even as a teenager had anyone tried to approach me like that. This approach probably worked for Jim Morrisson – if you’re a rock star, there’s always enough groupies around for a successful fishing expedition with something cheap and nasty like this, but it makes me want to get out an electric cattle prod (and a dictionary) to apply to the enquirer. So out of the three covers The Cure did here, I prefer the first because it sounds the least like the original song, but I’m not bringing my plate back to this one, because it doesn’t matter who cooked this pineapple, it’s still a pineapple.
Which brings me to Harold And Joe, briefly mentioned before. Yes yes yes yes yes!
…fabulous. When The Cure have finished with their current last album ever, maybe they could attend to making an album with 10-12 tracks in this style, preferably by next Christmas. Heck, this is something Robert Smith could still do when he’s 80, and I’d still be tapping my toes to it. This is timeless, if you have an effective “basement” voice, which he certainly has. Which begs the question, why didn’t he bring this voice out more often? In the 80s, Robert Smith often sang up in his nose and with this whiny affectation. On Bloodflowers, he’d stopped doing that, and was actually using his voice far more fully, not to mention articulating much more clearly. And when he does that, he’s got such a beautiful voice. We heard him sing Pirate Ships for the first time on that Opera House live stream earlier this year, and my hair was standing on end, and I had to remind myself to breathe. And people were complaining about this! OMG, people. Let them all go jump in the lake; this was amazing. I can’t believe how rude audiences are these days. A band is not a jukebox. There’s some Cure songs I dislike, but I wouldn’t be complaining about them as part of a gig; I’d be expecting some of them to get played, and it’s just so disrespectful to whine about it, or pull faces etc. Anyway, live is different, and always offers angles of interest that there aren’t on studio recordings – like watching a bunch of people put music together, which I enjoy.
So, Harold And Joe totally works for me. And those dry, dry lyrics, bwahahaha! (The almost-rhyme was also duly noted. ) I’ve always enjoyed this sort of thing. Here’s one of that sort from Lloyd Cole:
Those two could have a cynicism competition with those two songs. I’d call it a draw. Well done to everyone here.
This brings up the last song on CD-2, a remix of Just Like Heaven. I’ve just had two serves of Roadkill brand beef jerky, and someone has brought out the strawberry trifle! Oh the tapestry of life and art. While this is really not my favourite song, I am really glad that Robert Smith writes lyrics like that, and coming from stiff-upper-lip Anglo culture as well. It’s a marvellous antidote to all that posed macho stuff in contemporary music, and broader society. It’s good alternative role modelling for boys, too – we’d have so much less trouble in society if men were less emotionally and socially constricted by their upbringings and the culture around them. On that note:
This leaves me with CD-1 and CD-4 to look at. That’s going to take a while to get around to. Meanwhile, discussion of associated music and anything it may bring up is completely welcome here. I personally see topics as loose guides around which to meander in all sorts of directions. It’s so interesting what you can discover on the scenic roads of life.
And this is also true for the current iteration!