Going largely backwards through a decades-long back catalogue after falling in love with a latter-day album is the reverse of how it generally works with music, but run-of-the-mill with literature. It’s like starting Dickens with Great Expectations, or Shakespeare with Hamlet, and then backtracking to their earlier work. In literature, nobody expects you to fetishise the first couple of efforts by an author and then bemoan the rest of their work, but that’s standard procedure for some music aficionados, in the context of contemporary music. Why is that?
I’m at a crossroads here with presenting the journal material so far, because originally we also had a preliminary listen to The Head On The Door straight after KMKMKM, and neither of us were thrilled with that record. This led to some online debates, not all of which were particularly friendly, and a deeper exploration of reasons we didn’t take to that album like we’ve taken to albums such as Bloodflowers, The Top and KMKMKM. After that, I had a first listen to Wish, which I much preferred to the 1985 release, and got straight into looking at the lyrics on that. In the thick of all of this, I completely forgot to have a closer look at KMKMKM and its lyrics, an omission I will rectify on this blog soon – so much to explore with that album, and really looking forward to that.
Meanwhile though, here’s a very preliminary entry on The Head On The Door, lumped in with two entries on other songs. Also a couple of sermons related to YouTube & co commentaries. 😇 Plus, I’ve thrown in something extra over and above the “reprint” on the last entry here – i.e. that scorching Hendrix cover, and Pink Floyd…
The next album from the Cure’s back catalogue that dropped into our rural mailbox in the middle of nowhere was Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. We were systematically closing gaps, having been captured years ago with Bloodflowers, various live albums and the concert film Trilogy, and having at that point gradually added Disintegration, The Top, Wild Mood Swings, Join the Dots (4 discs of B-sides, excellent value) and 4:13 Dream to our CD collection.
I started open journalling about the music with Exploring “Join the Dots”, then decided to continue the process with 4:13 Dream and subsequent new acquisitions in a new open journal, Exploring the Back Catalogue. I initially did both on a forum, but will now curate them on my blog and then continue gradually adding to them here.
In general, I will say that musically, this album isn’t very representative of why I personally like The Cure. Even the musical highlights here don’t actually lift me off the ground as some of their other tracks through the years really do. I enjoy 4:13 Dream better when I listen to it in “performance poetry” mode, rather than “amazing music” mode. For that, it’s worth revisiting, though I don’t like every song on it. But then, I don’t like every song on a lot of Cure albums, and on a lot of albums from anyone – and that’s OK, as long as things are generally interesting, and the majority of tracks appeal to me in some way (not everything speaks to everyone; but things that don’t speak to me may well speak to others 😎). I probably wouldn’t have been particularly amenable to this album if I’d not already liked a lot of this band’s prior work – it’s like with authors, you’ll give them more leeway after you’ve already enjoyed a couple of their books, and you’re more likely to be interested in anything they subsequently do that’s unlike what you liked before. It becomes more of a cerebral exercise then, rather than huge enjoyment and/or being really moved by something. All those things have their place though.
The Scream is a very good example of what I’d class as really effective performance poetry. And while I’m at it, and just because it’s the first thing I think when confronted with that title:
Having just posted a lot of beautiful music off a playlist on the Currently Listening thread, it’s a bit of a juxtaposition to be dealing with a song that is decidedly not beautiful, and probably not intended to be. It doesn’t mean I hate it – although I really, really, really dislike the guitar intro, it is like fingers down the blackboard in musical form, just the vilest sound (and coincidentally, it really goes with the album cover). Listen for yourself…
Some of you are undoubtedly going to love it, because life is a big tapestry, no two people are the same, etc – but I’d immediately like that song a whole lot better sans that guitar intro. I can never really understand why anybody likes heavy metal and its car crash sounds, either – although it probably has some correlation with testosterone. Clearly not a hugely strong correlation, because not every man is a fan, but it’s decidedly more popular with males than females.
So here’s The Cure, a band who has a large number of beautiful tracks in their catalogue, with a song that makes my ears bleed. It is, however, an interesting song – and I’m using that word not in the British sense, but in the German sense, where you really mean that something is actually interesting when you say it, and not the opposite – and where “interesting” is a compliment, not a backhanded insult.
So, why would a song dealing with a suicide sound rather upbeat? It’s not the first song on that general theme by this band; Cut Here is more what you’d expect, a reminder that you can miss the clues (if any) and then it’s too late, and the regret of that, which I’m sure a few of us have experienced by now. But The Reasons Why is far more edgy.
Somewhere, a while back, I read a moronic, very short review of 4:13 Dream, where the reviewer was assuming that the song was Robert Smith being some kind of gothic drama queen, and as per that stereotype, crooning about his own potential suicide. If you look up the lyrics on genius.com, it does have a note that this is about an actual suicide note sent to Robert Smith by someone he knew, way back in 1987.
SCENIC SIDE TRIP – DRUMS AND PERCUSSION I want to look at the musical aspects of 4:13 Dream a bit more closely, but before I do that, I’m going to write some general thoughts on drums and percussion, which isn’t easy to write about without the requisite musical vocabulary, but let’s see how it goes. And, if anyone out there does have the vocabulary and concepts, I’d be really happy to hear a translation of what I’m going to say in plain language into the specialised language.
Well, after Exploring “Join The Dots” I needed another project, so I decided to continue open-journalling while trawling through The Cure’s back catalogue. Technically, Join The Dots is part of the back catalogue, but the thread is already very long and its title too specific to just keep writing away there instead.
I decided that I really needed one large container for writing anything subsequent about my tour of this band’s music, rather than small buckets for each individual album / song / etc. I’m interested in writing about interrelationships between things. To compartmentalise into tiny topics feeds the kind of disconnected thinking and tunnel vision that’s become so prevalent in society. We’re losing sight of the bigger picture. We need to be able to stretch our minds without being afraid we are going “off topic” – so that we can freely explore the nature of things, rather than dealing piecemeal with small and artificially separated facets of reality.
I’m not a music critic. I trained and worked as a scientist, and from my late 20s on taught university-entry Biology, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, English and English Literature – because Hermiones exist in the real world. Since our tree change hitting 40, I write in public spaces and run a small organic farm on the …