Exploring the Back Catalogue: Wish, Love Gone Wrong & Love Gone Right

December 31, 2020

The end of the year was rapidly approaching and two Cure albums are still queueing – I’d rather like to listen to them, so I better get finished with looking at Wish.


Cut is a jagged sort of number, a lament for a dying relationship:


If only you’d never speak to me
The way that you do
If only you’d never speak like that
It’s like listening to
A breaking heart
A falling sky
Fire go out and friendship die
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do

If only you’d never look at me
The way that you do
If only you’d never look like that
When I look at you
I see face like stone
Eyes of ice
Mouth so sweetly telling lies
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do
But you don’t
You don’t feel anymore
You don’t care anymore
It’s all gone
It’s all gone
It’s all gone

If only you’d never pull from me
The way that you do
If only you’d never pull like that
When I’m with you
I feel hopeless hands helplessly
Pulling you back close to me
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do
But you don’t
You don’t feel anymore
You don’t care anymore
It’s all gone
It’s all gone
It’s all gone

If only you’d ever speak to me
The way you once did
Look at me the way you once did
Pull to me the way you once did
But you don’t
You don’t feel anymore
You don’t care anymore
It’s all gone
It’s all gone

Sometimes it’s like that and there’s nothing you can do – Sensate Focus won’t fix this and psychotherapy doesn’t look good here either; along with other tools they’re better at preventing this kind of disconnection that trying to fix something that’s broken into two separate pieces.  Sometimes something is just dead, and all you can do is write a dirge.  The sad thing here is that the death of the thing is so lopsided, as it so often is – with one party checked out, and the other wishing it wasn’t so.  All that you can do then is to remember that there’s lots of other people you can connect with – and that thinking you’re never going to feel again like you felt about the person who checked out is a bit of a grass-is-greener thing, and a bit like when you’ve had a big lunch and you can’t imagine ever feeling hungry again – because you will.

These lyrics are again nicely written.  The words are very balanced against each other, and at one point I can’t help thinking, Double, double, toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  I like the logical structuring, the way the three expanded observations on the present are revisited in a verse about the past, the word flow, use of alliteration, etc.  Very effective piece.

Now another look at a song whose lyrics I had a difficult start with…


Every time we do this
I fall for her
Wave after wave after wave
It’s all for her
I know this can’t be wrong I say
(And I’ll lie to keep her happy)
As long as I know that you know
That today I belong
Right here with you
Right here with you…

And so we watch the sun come up
From the edge of the deep green sea
And she listens like her head’s on fire
Like she wants to believe in me
So I try
Put your hands in the sky
We’ll be here forever
And we’ll never say goodbye…

I’ve never been so
Colourfully-see-through-head before
I’ve never been so
And all I want is to keep it like this
You and me alone
A secret kiss
And don’t go home
Don’t go away
Don’t let this end
Please stay
Not just for today

Never never never never never let me go she says
Hold me like this for a hundred thousand million days
But suddenly she slows
And looks down at my breaking face
Why do you cry? what did I say?
But it’s just rain I smile
Brushing my tears away…

I wish I could just stop
I know another moment will break my heart
Too many tears
Too many times
Too many years I’ve cried over you

How much more can we use it up?
Drink it dry?
Take this drug?
Looking for something forever gone
But something
We will always want?

Why why why are you letting me go? she says
I feel you pulling back
I feel you changing shape…
And just as I’m breaking free
She hangs herself in front of me
Slips her dress like a flag to the floor
And hands in the sky
Surrenders it all…

I wish I could just stop
I know another moment will break my heart
Too many tears
Too many times
Too many years I’ve cried for you
It’s always the same
Wake up in the rain
Head in pain
Hung in shame
A different name
Same old game
Love in vain
And miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Away from home again…

Here’s an obvious love-gone-wrong number, which is elastic enough to pull over a variety of scenarios:  Falling in love with someone else when you’re already in a committed relationship, and going places (to a greater of lesser degree) where by the ethics of that you shouldn’t (unless you’re in a consensual open relationship or polyamorous arrangement).  Or, having a pattern of short-term relationships (A different name/Same old game) where the lovers are one after the other under the mistaken impression that something longer-term isn’t ruled out, but it is, he’s just not admitting it to them (I’ll lie to keep her happy).  Or a variant of this, namely serial infidelity.  Or, continuing to come back to a long-standing relationship that’s gone wrong somewhere and the narrator possibly wanted to end but can’t.

Miles and miles and miles away from home again – that’s quite stretchy as well; it could obviously suggest an affair, if you take “home” literally, as a place, an “official” relationship etc.  If you’re going to look at it as a concept, however, then you could apply it to just the one troubled relationship that the narrator keeps getting drawn back to, that for some reason doesn’t get to the “ideal” of home – which might mean the concept needs adjusting in the person’s head, and it’s not just the relationship that needs working on.  Some not too uncommon reasons for that, especially in older generations like ours, are things like the Madonna-whore complex – basic programming errors that are partly cultural, which is why you’ve got to find and fix the source code and write your own instead.

Choose your own adventure, with this song, I think.  If anyone would like to read a nitty-gritty discussion we had on the lyrics to this a year ago, we did that here.  That’s where I’m also going to refer people if they’d like to read ooohing and aaahing about how musically, this is one of my favourite pieces by this band (though there are many) – I could spend half an hour writing more about that, or I could be half an hour closer to finishing the journalling on Wish and putting the self-titled album on, which is still sitting there in its wrapper and getting really tempting.  While I am usually on the delayed-gratification end of the marshmallow test, I got two Cure albums last year :winking_tongue which I’ve not even listened to yet, and there is a point at which delaying your marshmallows results in mummified marshmallows… sorry, this metaphor doesn’t quite fit, but I think you know what I’m getting at.  :)

Exactly one song to go in the category of Love Gone Wrong – Let Me Count The Ways – and then we can get to the one song about love gone right, two songs about manipulation, one mental health track, and the famous weekday ditty which constitute the rest of the Wish album.  :cool


There’s no-one left in the world
That I can hold onto
There is really no-one left at all
There is only you
And if you leave me now
You leave all that we were
There is really no-one left
You are the only one

And still the hardest part for you
To put your trust in me
I love you more than I can say
Why won’t you just believe?

Surprised to see this one under “love gone wrong”?  The relationship isn’t over, is it?  (Though he seems to be trying to convince her not to leave.)  And the song sounds so utterly amazing that you feel like you’re flying through a starry sky far above this planet (if you’re me, which you’re clearly not, so maybe it reminds you of bathing with a hippopotamus, what would I know :P).

Ah, but it doesn’t have to be over to be in this category – it’s so much better to catch something quickly before it goes way wrong, than to wait for it to predictably crash and then wheel the broken body into the emergency department.  And trust is very central to relationships – without it, they’re mere commercial transactions, I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine, etc.  So when trust starts to erode, or problems around it crop up, that’s a very serious thing in a relationship and you should hear the fire alarms going off.  It’s a worthy topic to write a song about.

I’ve got to admit, I’d like to know how the narrator got into the situation that there’s only one person left they can trust (I think is implied, but even just to “hold onto”), and it’s a bit of an alarm bell, because sometimes it’s what a person does, or doesn’t do, that alienates people who have hitherto trusted them too, and alienates them generally for good reasons.  In that kind of scenario, the rest of the lyrics would be 1) trying to guilt trip / flatter the one remaining person into not joining the exodus, and 2) trying to convince them that ardent declarations of love make them trustworthy – which rationally is not convincing, of course.  Trust is something you earn through your actions towards other people and the world in general, over a significant stretch of time – not something you can buy with sweet nothings, or indeed lofty poetry – and this general topic I’ve explored before here, in the context of a Cure B-side called Home.

Of course, sometimes there are terrible situations where a person realises that they’ve trusted people who were never trustworthy in the first place, and they therefore have to reassess the way they relate to the world from the ground up (and that’s happened to me, and to others I know).  That’s an awful black hole to find yourself in, where you can be lucky if you actually have one person left whom you can trust, or hold onto (and they’re not always the same thing, I realise that – but I don’t think we need half a page of analysis on that at this point) – and I like to think of the song in that way, because I prefer a beautiful-sounding song to be about something of substance, and not a piece of cognitive dissonance where wonderful music showcases a lyrical house of cards.  :P

So, in those kinds of situations, Trust can be a very relatable song – excepting the concluding, logically non sequitur verse, I’d argue – for reasons explained in the paragraph before last – but that’s a common mistake to make, I think, especially when you’re in the early stages of adulthood.  Which calls to mind the sayings I’ve heard along the lines of, “Just when I’m finally getting a handle on things, I’m at the end of my statistically expected life span!”  :angel

I recently found a very lovely fan video set to this song, which promotes the idea of performing random acts of kindness as part of your daily interactions with the world.  Brett and I cooed over this clip, and I got tears in my eyes, because I’m a big softie, but more to the point, because I really get, because I’ve been there, how little acts of kindness from strangers (that sometimes also end up turning into friends) can make all the difference to you when you’re in a difficult spot in life; can keep you afloat instead of drowning, can keep you hoping instead of despairing – to be at the receiving end of kindness, but even just to witness it.  So please, be a little lightbulb to others, because as we’ve all heard before, better to light a candle than all of us sit in the darkness.  Kindness is the antidote to all the alienation, cruelty and general shiitake out there…

Really gorgeous music, this…total aromatherapy for the ears, as is so much of Wish.

January 3, 2021


We’ve looked at the considerable clutch of love-gone-wrong songs on Wish – and now we turn to the one love-gone-right song on the album, High

(For once, not off The Cure’s official YT stuff because that forces you into video clips where they exist and I think clips detract from music, and that Robert Smith without long hair is scary 👺 :P)

…of course, when you look at some of the other material from this recording stint that didn’t make it onto the album, you will notice a shining gem called This Twilight Garden which is a love-gone-spectacularly-right song, and a gorgeous musical watercolour at that; and people argue about how that should have been on the album instead of Wendy Time, but honestly, I’d keep that one in there because it rounds out the general themes, and simply expand Wish by two tracks, namely the abovementioned gem and The Big Hand – both of which are A+ tracks in every which way, to our way of thinking.

Let’s look at the lyrics:


When I see you sky as a kite
As high as I might
I can’t get that high
The how you move
The way you burst the clouds
It makes me want to try

When I see you sticky as lips
As licky as trips
I can’t lick that far
But when you pout
The way you shout out loud
It makes me want to start
And when I see you happy as a girl
That swims in a world of magic show
It makes me bite my fingers through
To think I could’ve let you go

And when I see you
Take the same sweet steps
You used to take
I say I’ll keep on holding you
My arms so tight
I’ll never let you slip away

And when I see you kitten as a cat
Yeah as smitten as that
I can’t get that small
The way you fur
The how you purr
It makes me want to paw you all
And when I see you happy as a girl
That lives in a world of make-believe
It makes me pull my hair all out
To think I could’ve let you leave

And when I see you
Take the same sweet steps
You used to take
I know I’ll keep on holding you
In arms so tight
They’ll never let you go

I’m not always a huge fan of The Cure’s radio-friendly songs and I much prefer their other side, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular track.  It’s musically not too unbearably poppy, and I like the playfulness of its lyrics.  As their radio-friendly love songs go, this one’s my favourite, although I’ve also really warmed to Love Cats in the last half decade or so, for similar reasons – playful lyrics, musically not allergy-inducing for me, and nothing that can be remotely interpreted as co-dependency.

The writing style for High reminds me of ee cummings – and if you’ve never read this guy, here’s a nice example:

anyone lived in a pretty how town

by ee cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

I’ve liked the puzzles and wordplay in his poetry for a long time too… and he’s pretty hard to avoid if you do poetry at school. :)

And now, something of a rant.  One of the reasons I am writing about this stuff is because when The Cure came to Australia last, to do the 30th Anniversary shows for Disintegration at the Sydney Opera House in mid-2019, there was a certain music journalist who wrote a certain piece in The Monthly on The Cure which I thought was a really one-dimensional portrait of the band and their music, and said more about her than it did about The Cure’s music (and of course, to a greater and lesser extent that’s true for all of us who write, I think).  I got a bee in my bonnet about that and I had a stress fracture in my foot which required me to be off it as much as possible for three weeks and keep it elevated a lot of the time, so I got on the sofa with my laptop and wrote an alternative piece to the one that had me wrinkling my nose, because what else are you gonna do when you’re a bit annoyed and you have a stress fracture and to cap it all, it’s pouring down outside day after day in the Australian mid-winter.

One of the things that annoyed me was the music journalist’s assertion that Robert Smith was glossing over sex in his relationship songs with pretty metaphors and tame euphemisms and had never left the shy teenage stage of writing about that stuff.  I’m paraphrasing from memory and am perhaps a bit harsh, so go read the original which is linked to above if you want it straight from the horse’s mouth, but even as a fairly new Cure fan I was thinking, “Excuse me, which songs has she listened to?”

Quite apart from the fact that The Only One had been in existence for a decade when the journo made that outlandish claim, and is enough to make a fair few people blush with its graphic imagery (and some of us cheer because it’s about time someone with a platform in popular culture educated the sub-30s that there is sex on the other side of the big 3-0 and no, it’s not their monopoly, nor do they necessarily own the peak), surely if you’ve delved deeper into their albums you’d have known that it’s not the norm for Robert Smith to “pretty things up” for the Mary Whitehouses of this world.

I do remember said journalist quoting from High to make that distorted claim – and apparently forgetting a good dozen or more other songs that would have lent perspective – and I’m not even through the whole back catalogue yet, and this journo was a long-standing fan, at least when she was growing up…

Anyway, I like High, and not every (or any, actually) song needs to be sexually graphic in order to prove to someone else that the writer is an adult.  And now it’s time to wheel out this theory I have about people again…

I think basically that it’s all still there, every age you ever were, and that you can access all the ages you’ve ever been if you go looking.  You can find the infant right in the centre, the 3-year-old, the 6-year-old, the teenager, the 20-something, the 30-something, any age you’ve been, just like you can in a tree.  Some people don’t like to go looking for their earlier selves, especially for the child part of them – it makes them uncomfortable; it was too powerless, they felt stupid, they maybe look down on the very young, whatever the reason – and they wall that part of their life off and say, “I’m an adult now, all that is behind me!”  Of course, it’s not; and it creates a lot of problems to stonewall the child you were, not the least of which is that you’re going to have trouble undoing any adverse or dysfunctional early social programming; but also, curiosity and wonder and joy and spontaneous fun are just some of the characteristics you’re likely to lose that way; and furthermore, people who’ve walled off the child within usually have difficulty relating to and empathising with children, and seeing them as anything but subordinates and lesser beings.

But the most together, alive and joyful people I know have integrated every age and everything they’ve ever been and live from the totality of that, rather than just from the surface layers of themselves.  They therefore retain the wonderful aspects of childhood – the awe, the wonder, the curiosity, the joy, the sense of fun and play, the openness – and combine those with the best things that adulthood can give you, like critical and analytical thinking, resourcefulness, independence, deeper insight, lots of experience, a huge mental catalogue of literature and music and art, etc (and let’s not forget sexuality and pair bonding).

I think it’s important to distinguish between childlikeness, and childishness – childlikeness encompasses the characteristics I listed above, but childishness is essentially immaturity, an egocentric orientation, “Mine!” and not realising you’re not the centre of the universe.  I think it’s ironic that the people who wall off their own inner child lose the childlikeness, but tend to lapse back into childishness (because they’re not dealing with that part of themselves).

And just to return that to our discussion of High:  What you can see in those lyrics is childlike wonder, enthusiasm, joy, playfulness – and having those characteristics in no way disqualifies you from also being an adult – it’s complementary, and it makes you more complete.  I can also attest from personal experience that when you’re an adult having an intimate relationship with another adult, your life is so much richer if you can relate from all that you are and ever were, to one another – it’s a far more complex and deep kind of relationship than “play-acting adult” could ever be.

And now I’m wrapping up this entry; I’ll tackle the “manipulation” songs next time.  :)

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