Exploring "Join The Dots"

Started by SueC, August 06, 2019, 14:28:23

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OK, I'm ready to write about this, but in dribs and drabs, because it's going to be a long one!

A (repeated) heads-up:  This isn't a review, it's a personal open-journalling exercise in response to the material on Join The Dots.

As mentioned in a "preview" post above - in fact so far above, owing to lengthy scenic side trips, I'll put in a link:  http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770923#msg770923  ...I really like this CD, and there's lots to talk about. There is only one song on it I actively dislike, for personal reasons, and I'll explain why when I get to it.

I will be working chronologically through the CD, starting with the opener Home, which I prefer to its A-side both musically and lyrically, being the ornery individual I am.  :evil:  :angel

So, Robert Smith has a way of writing about love relationships which is sometimes really lovely, sometimes alarming, sometimes exasperating, and sometimes capable of generating a fair bit of cognitive dissonance in me personally - and sometimes I'm not entirely clear on which of these it is, or something else.  For discussion of an alarming example, see here:  http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770682#msg770682

Also, I've just read and responded to a thread which deals with some of that dissonance: http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=8924.msg59779#msg59779 - and I think that this is going to impact on the way I'm going to look at Home today, in that I'm not just going to discuss its most charitable interpretation - a man, perhaps after an attack of foot-in-mouth disease, writing a cathartic piece about the frustrations of trying to communicate something important-but-difficult-to-verbalise to their partner, and having it all backfire.

But to have the miscommunication backfire to the point that your partner is crying does make me wonder if the context has something to do with the tears - rather than just the verbal bumbling.  As people far removed from someone else's personal situation, we don't get the context, unless it's specifically (and fully, and honestly) presented to us - and that's not something we usually get, or should expect to get.

However, stuff like this does make you generally think about relationships, which is a good thing.  So, I'm going to discuss a few general relationship scenarios which would make tears and disappointment natural when someone is trying to say something they seem to feel is nice to you.  I'd like to do that in the context of these lyrics:

Every time I try to tell you how I feel inside
I always make the same mistake
Tie myself in knots
Sometimes even make you cry
When all I ever want to say
Is "Nobody else in the whole wide world
Makes me feel this way...
Nobody else in the whole wide world
Takes my breath away"

Makes me feel so strange inside
Dazed, confused and starry-eyed
I couldn't love you more

Makes me feel the wrong way round
Inside out and upside down
I couldn't love you more

And every time I try to tell you what I really mean
Nothing seems to come out right
And I end up murmuring foolishly it makes me want to scream
How I get so stupefied

On the one hand, this could simply be a case of, "Here it is, I've managed to write down the words I wanted, and what I was unable to say face to face before."

On the other, both a difficult context and even the actual words could potentially lead to disappointment.

Let's take as a "difficult context" example a relationship where there has been infidelity, for whatever reason.  In a situation like that, if your straying partner tries to sweet-talk you with lofty words, it could have the opposite effect to what would happen in a context not involving infidelity - and yet, sometimes people don't get this, probably because lacking the empathy to put themselves emotionally in the position of their hurt partner.

Adopt, as a mental exercise, those two different contexts.  Context 1, no infidelity, generally happy relationship, and your partner writes you the words cited above.  Context 2, infidelity has been a part of the package, you're still raw, and your partner writes you those words - how are you feeling, in each scenario?  How are you responding?  (You can invent and respond to other hypothetical contexts as well.  Contexts vary, and are always important in how someone's words are received.)

As people aren't clones, I'd expect a range of answers to the above hypotheticals.

The purpose of these hypotheticals is not to speculate on the personal life of the writer, but to learn something about context, about the complexities of relationships, and about ourselves as individuals.

Leaving the discussion of context (which we could spend pages on alone), I'd now like to explain how the words from the song above could make me uneasy if they were directed at me, in a relationship not involving infidelity.  It's because while they are very sweet, they also represent a kind of immature vision of love - love as "you make me feel wonderful in all these different ways" - and that's very much "I love ice-cream, it makes me feel so wonderful" love - it's what's not being said that's the problem here.  It's love entirely from the perspective of the benefits of you to me, what you can do for me, of what your effect is on my feelings - it's very one-sided, and very limited.  It's not about how I love trying to enrich your own experience and quality of life because I love you, or about how I love your values and principles and integrity and humour and the things you're trying to do with your life, and how I want to support you in that; and how I love that this is also how you see me, and how you look at me, and how you support me.

By the way, the "I love ice-cream, it makes me feel so wonderful" aspect is a part of mature love as well, it's just that it's only one aspect of love, and it's a real problem if that's all you've got (or if that's all you're going to say).

I understand that a song is not a PhD, it's a necessarily quite limited vehicle length-wise for trying to express something you're focusing on at a particular time - it's more of a short story, and less of a novel, and therefore, sometimes you just can't explore more than just a tiny aspect of something complicated.

Having said that, I'd have fewer concerns about this take on love, because it's a bit more multifaceted:

This is coming from a person in their mid-20s, and I'm taking that into account here - because even with this song, some of the lyrics and concepts would worry me if they were directed at me - most of all, the "save my soul" bit - your partner is not your rescuer, you're each responsible for your own soul, your own self - but of course it's OK to acknowledge how others are helpful to you on top of your own sincere efforts to deal with your life.

By the way, both these singers are people who met their life partners in high school and report happy marriages of 30-plus years at this end of history, which is quite a feat.  And they're also both singers who wrote songs as presents for their wives, and I happen not to particularly like either of the most famous of these songs - not Lovesong (why here http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=3756.msg771130#msg771130) and not The Sweetest Thing, which I find terribly saccharine.  I'm generally uncomfortable with "you make me feel..." stuff as well, because often it raises the spectre of co-dependency (or at least your partner as a fairground ride) and I want to see more than that, like an understanding of personal responsibility for the self, or love that's more than ice-cream love, before I can get enthusiastic about it.

Perhaps that's why instrumentals usually convey love better for me.  ;)

And I've not even talked about the musical aspects of the song Home yet - the pace of it, the inclusion of strings (or faux strings, I might need a hearing aid), etc etc.

But, isn't it great when songs make us think - and think for ourselves, instead of defer to others. :heart-eyes  Amongst the greatest gifts you can give other people are unconditional love (with boundaries, of course) - and encouraging them to learn, and to think, thoroughly, critically, independently and fearlessly.

More later.
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on November 05, 2019, 06:26:02And I've not even talked about the musical aspects of the song Home yet - the pace of it, the inclusion of strings (or faux strings, I might need a hearing aid), etc

As far as I remember, the band used "real" strings during the recording of "Wild Mood Swings", thus (of course) any b-sides from that era should have a real string quartet on them too!

(Found this info from "discogs":
Strings [String Quartet] – Audrey Riley, Chris Tombling, Leo Payne, Sue Dench)

Personally, I thought these strings gave some of the songs a "depth" which otherwise wouldn't be there. (If you listen to older tracks, e.g. "Sinking", the band often used keyboards and made them sound like strings, thus it was a good idea to use real strings in my opinion.)
Theorize and talk yourself
Until you're tired and old


Thank you very much for digging that up, @Ulrich! :)  I was pretty sure they used real strings but have misplaced the sleeve notes from Wild Mood Swings - twenty years from now, I'll probably find them in an obscure book (I have a bad habit of making things I shouldn't into impromptu bookmarks).  And for this exercise here, I've avoided going online to look stuff up because I'd rather not have too much information / song interpretations etc, to affect my first run through.  I generally enjoy the riddles, and then look up alternative hypotheses / interviews later to see what I've missed. :)

Generally speaking, real strings have more personality than synth imitation, but that can be increasingly hard to pick because the imitations are becoming better all the time, and if it's just backing with fairly even playing, and you're listening on an iPod and dealing with the evils of data compression and on-the-run headphones... That's how I have to do a lot of it during the working day - using the proper sound system is an after-hours luxury... I'm currently doing bushfire safety preparations which is standard for this time of year in Australia, and mowing and pruning fire risks away while listening to music and then coming in during coffee breaks to write about the music...

I agree very much that strings can potentially add a lot of depth to songs, and they do to Home, and to my favourite tracks off Wild Mood Swings - namely Jupiter Crash and Treasure.  ...as long as the violinists stay off the E-strings... ;)  ...much torture has been caused to my ears by screechy E-strings and screechy sopranos engaged in vibrato at the high end...  :1f629:

I like the feel of those particular songs from the Wild Mood Swings sessions, as well as their themes.  I generally like the album as a whole too, just I avoid two tracks on it like the plague, namely Mint Car and The 13th.  I knew Mint Car from "before" - from the radio - and have never liked that song, and in part it's like generally enjoying ee cummings' poetry but really disliking she being Brand-new; Mint Car reminds me of that poem, and in itself has features I don't care for, and isn't music I like.  :expressionless:  The 13th, I really don't enjoy the theme of that at all, plus when I hear the music, I feel like I'm being attacked by a horde of loud Hawaiian shirts.  But I'm sure someone else enjoys pineapple, and it's easy enough post cassettes and vinyl to skip tracks that give you a rash.

We're currently playing The Top a fair bit after acquiring it last year, and both enjoying the Eastern sounds on it, and I actually really love the title track off that album.  But neither of us liked the B-sides from that on CD-1.  Funny how that goes.  I generally like good bands' B-sides as much as their main material, because I generally like experimental stuff, and to hear another side to someone's music - traditionally a less commercially viable side which I often find is a plus for the sound.  For instance, I've enjoyed most of the post-mid-80s Cure B-sides I've heard, and many of U2's B-sides from all sorts of eras, and also I love the Fisherman's Blues outtakes stuff from Mike Scott - the Too Close To Heaven CD - particularly The Ladder is just cartwheel-inducing as a track...  :angel

Ah well, back to mowing and some more B-sides, I suppose...
SueC is time travelling


Next-up on CD-4 is Waiting, which seems to me to most likely be a song about missing your home and your spouse during work-related travels (/touring).  I like the way the words to that are written; the imagery used, the sketchiness of it.  There's a bit of reflecting and trying to make sense of the world and the self:

But if I don't believe in magic
And I don't believe in blood
And I don't believe in miracles
And I don't believe in love
Then how come I believe so soon
In a cherry tree girl
And a dust blue room?

...Then how come I believe it seems
In a girl called Home
And a world called dreams?

So the first three references - magic, blood, miracles - are commonly associated with Christianity, but also with voodoo etc, and general woo-woo (draw your Venn diagram of these any way you like).  Love is more widely contested as a general theme, and it's pretty sad to not believe in it, but I guess that depends on your definition of what it is, and your personal context.  Generally I would say that love is something I value (if not "believe in" - on reflection) personally, but I see love more as a doing thing, a caring thing and general respect and personal responsibility for your own stuff, than a whole bunch of pink emotional clouds, or something that's going to come along and save you, and solve all your problems - whether that be in a religious or a romantic context, which is where "love as rescue" is most commonly applied.  That kind of stuff I'm not so keen on.  I'd probably have to write a lengthy essay to explore that properly, but I'm really not in the mood for that right now.

Once, on my home forum, a friend started a topic, "Do You Believe In Love?" and unfortunately, not only was the context pink and fluffy, but she also posted the Huey Lewis & The News track of the same name, which I loathe.  She then tried very hard to get a "yes" out of me and I just couldn't give it to her, wouldn't.  I spent quite a while discussing definitions, assumptions and implications; talking about how the Greeks have multiple words for various aspects of it, like the Inuit have many words for snow, and how that is actually really helpful for avoiding misunderstandings.  I can't sign up for the way that term is commonly used either in trashy pop songs or religion.  (I will make the distinction that I was fine with Martin Luther King's working model of love and the way he defined various aspects of it in his book Strength To Love, and also with much of the take on it in the gospels - that was far, far less dysfunctional than what was being displayed to me in my family of origin, or in much of wider society.)

I think though that rather than toss a word or concept out because it's much abused, it's better to reclaim it, and to explain very clearly what this does and does not mean for you.

So, our protagonist above doesn't believe in magic, blood, miracles or love, but somehow believes in home and his girl (if I'm re-phrasing that correctly, and this may not be what was intended, of course), and wonders why this is so.

OK, I'm going to be naughty here and say that the protagonist seems to be something of an empiricist, and that the proof of the pudding has been in the eating. :angel

Anyway, it's a nice little contemplation on life, the universe and everything, and again something to make you think as a listener as well.  For me, that's always a sort of unavoidable reflex - trying to figure out other people's values, working hypotheses (/dogmas in the less astute) etc and then comparing notes.

Musically, I found this track fairly neutral - it didn't particularly grab me, but it didn't particularly repel me either.  However, the next track... well, that's the track I was referring to earlier when I said there was one track on this CD I actively dislike.

A Pink Dream has several features which pretty much guarantee I'm going to run from a room making retching noises if I can't turn it off or hold my ears shut.  I have pretty intense emotional and visceral reactions to music, which is wonderful if I'm listening to stuff I really enjoy, but conversely also very trying if I'm in a place where stuff is getting piped over a PA and I can do nothing about it and something that horrifies me comes on.

With A Pink Dream - yes, I did make myself listen to it several times over to be fair, and that had about the same effect as getting stung by a bee if you're already sensitised - it just exacerbated my reaction to it with each listen, so now I don't.  The very start instantly turns my stomach with its suction noises - one of my pet hates is having to listen to other people's real or simulated body-function noises - I always feel they should go see a doctor or get a room, whichever is more applicable.

There's just nothing about this particular track I like, and much that gives me a rash - the suction noises, the music, the lyrics, some of the implications.  There's ways of reminiscing about old flames that make songs I enjoy, and ways of doing that which I really don't.  The old Fleetwood Mac track Gypsy is an example I enjoy, as is Suzanne Vega's track of the same name, as is her Songs In Red And Gray, as is Jackson Browne's In The Shape Of A Heart, and Paul Kelly's Winter Coat, to name a few.  All of those tracks have a grace and a thoughtfulness to them which A Pink Dream decidedly lacks.

I'll close with one of them.  Paul Kelly may not be very well known outside of Australia, so this is a good opportunity to share.  This isn't his best thing musically, but he's always an excellent lyricist and story-teller.

More next time.
SueC is time travelling


This brings us to This Is A Lie - a lovely ambient version of the song, where the string arrangements really come to the fore, and everything sounds gorgeous and profound.

But, I'm going to debate its lyrics big time.

There's already a prelude to the following discussion of the lyrics of This Is A Lie here:


I'm going to re-post here my responses to that thread, and then expand on those.

♦ ♥ ♦

Quote from: undefinedIn "This Is a Lie", one of the most sombre songs on "Wild Mood Swings", you describe life as a lie. You sing that every love relationship is a lie, since by choosing one person, you deny everyone else in the world, without being able to know if you have made the right choice or not. That you only pretend, all the way until the end. Is this something that you feel very strongly or is this only a thought?

It is something that I feel strongly since I don't think it can be any other way. It is like that. No one can be sure. But you can't walk around thinking about it either, you would become insane...

It's been interesting reading everyone's discussion on this topic over the years!  :smth023

I just wanted to say that I personally very much disagree with the idea that a love relationship is somehow a lie just because it's not the only one of all the possibilities that might have worked out for you.  I think that part is a given - like a few of you have mentioned, I don't believe in a "soul mate" either, but I do think people can be right for each other, sufficiently compatible so that they're not going to be driven up the wall by, for example, one person being a neat freak and the other leaving their crap all over the place, or one person being a leftie and another a far-right Neo-Nazi, or one person being interested in self-education and the other a total anti-intellectual - things like that (and obviously then some).

I think it's a given that there is more than one person in the world who would potentially be right for you.  If you're conventional, you have a statistical advantage for bumping into someone who will work for you.  If you're a bit of a black sheep, finding such a person can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, and that was very much the case for my husband and me - we didn't meet until our mid-30s, and then only with the help of a good database that assisted in searching for outliers.

But we're not each other's only possible theoretical matchups.  So what?  We're very happy.  We don't spend a millisecond wondering if we could be marginally happier with somebody else.  That's like not fully enjoying a really fantastic book because you're worried that you should be reading some other book that's marginally more fantastic that you happen not to have come across.  Or that the wonderful song you're listening to is potentially less wonderful than some other song you happen not to have heard.  Or that you're wasting your time with the lovely dog you've got because you could theoretically have a better dog. Or that the A+ essay you're reading is perhaps surpassed by something else out there and that this other thing would somehow be more worthy of your time.  (These analogies are limited analogies for the situation, but do illustrate a point that also applies to that situation.) To me, thinking like that is self-defeating, and kind of insane.

Anyway, the book, or song, or dog, or partner you're enjoying isn't a lie because you might be enjoying another book, or song, or dog, or partner that you don't have in front of you.  You make choices - hopefully well-informed choices - and that's a valuable part of the whole story.  I'm way more interested in living the life I have than belly-aching over the lives I could have had.

And marriage, to us, was saying, "You mean enough to me that I actually don't want to explore other alternative paths, but get to know this particular path really well - and that I want to get to know you better than anyone else in the world; and this means more to me than all that philosophical analysis on the merits of alternative possibilities."

People think monogamy is such a chore, and we don't find it so at all - to us it's the privilege of getting to know each other far more deeply than anyone playing the field can get to know any of their partners.  It's saying, "You are worth that to me."  It's having someone say that to you.  It's working towards common goals, as a team.  It's making memories in common, and as the years go by, looking at where you've been together as human beings, like travellers looking at photo albums of their trips.  It's looking at how you've had to grow as people to accommodate each other, what you've learnt about yourself and the other person, how difficulties you've had have forced you to become a better you.  All sorts of things like that, and all of them valuable, and none of them a lie, or a pretence.

Who here has heard of Buridan's Ass?  It's the classic idea of a hungry donkey starving to death between two equally attractive bales of hay, unable to make up its mind about which one to eat.  Real donkeys don't do that, nor do they have philosophical conniptions when they're tucking into good-quality hay...

This is Sparkle, who's not worried about whether this bale of hay is a lie, just because it's not the only bale of hay in the world that is compatible with her.  She's fully enjoying her hay, and is pretending nothing.  :angel

Quote from: Chain Of Flowers on December 30, 2008, 16:08:29It's interesting how different people interpret Cure songs, and the fact that the songs can mean something different to so many people is one of the things that makes them special.

I never really thought of 'This Is A Lie' in a way that would make a wife raise her eyebrows at all (I'd expect that from 'Watching Me Fall' or 'Open').  I saw that song as one of those wondering concept tracks like a lot of what Bloodflowers is, just wondering about life and why we all play the role we play.  That line about losing everyone else in the world I took as the fact that some day we'll all be gone, therefore nobody stays around forever.

I think my initial reading of This Is A Lie was more along the lines of COF's reading - especially about losing everyone else in the world, which made me think about how we will all lose each other to mortality eventually - and that kind of thing serves as a memento mori to me, and helps to stop me taking things for granted, or wasting time.  I've sometimes wondered how much procrastination would be going on if all of us lived eternally.  "Oh, I'm not getting out of bed until next year."  - "I want to learn a musical instrument; I guess I'll book in for 300 years from now." - "Oh, I can do that tomorrow / next year / next century / next millennium."

When lyrics or poems are sufficiently murky, reading them can be like reading tea leaves!  ;)  And in that case, I think we're all going to look first of all at meanings that make the most sense to us personally.

I remember a couple of weeks ago I had a bee in my bonnet because of another Cure song I'd listened to, and then when I re-listened to This Is A Lie I said, "Oh, I could also read it as a whine about relationships / angsting about not having the most perfect of all the theoretical possibilities!  Like, "What I have is really excellent, but what if..." and I've got to say, I want to shake people like that, make them spend time in a slum in India with an extreme deformity that means no chance of any romantic partner whatsoever, let them experience some existential problems which are on an entirely different order of magnitude to what Western people with a happy marriage and stable financial arrangements and good friends and nice surroundings experience - and then maybe bring them back after ten years or so, and see how they feel then. :evil:

By the way, I think Watching Me Fall is sufficiently murky that you could read it so it's not necessarily about an extramarital affair - e.g., my husband and I regularly have affairs with each other - and we can play on the joke by one of us, or both of us, not wearing our rings.  Of course, every relationship is different, and I'd hate to extrapolate from our relationship to anyone else's...

♦ ♥ ♦

So, adding to that:

Sometimes, a song stays quite unobtrusive if you listen to it on the run - and this was the case for me with This Is A Lie, until I recently started putting the lyrics under the microscope and thinking about them deliberately and critically.  It was double-taking at another Cure song I was listening to, which made me go back and re-examine This Is A Lie from a different angle.  Instead of viewing it as benign philosophising, as it's possible to do when you're half-listening while working on outdoors tasks, I started to realise that this song represents a world view I have very little in common with, and find ill-considered.

A running commentary on the lyrics:

How each of us decides
I've never been sure
The part we play
The way we are

So far, so good.  That's something really worth examining. But go on to examine it, don't just emote about it and go around in circles! So much has been written about these exact topics in general philosophy, and different cultures have different takes on stuff like that - it's fascinating, and rich, and a good bit of immersion in this material is highly recommended for anyone, to get to know yourself better, to learn to navigate life better, become aware of assumptions and autopilots.  The problem is, most of us are railroaded by our social surrounds, and it takes a fair bit of thinking and swimming against the tide to start actually living life more deliberately and consciously and more in line with the things we value personally.  If you don't decide actively how you want to live and how you want to be, and really work on those things, those decisions will largely be made for you because you'll just be going along one of the paths of least resistance, with the rest of the mob.

An excellent online resource for dipping your toes in this kind of stuff:


How each of us denies any other way in the world

I can read that two ways.  One of them, the more benign reading, is the idea that every yes you give is an automatic no to something else, because you're so limited by available time and energy and resources.  (And therefore, you should consider very carefully what you say yes to.)  But I don't think that's what the writer means in this case, looking at the whole of these lyrics.

I do take issue with the generalising in the cited line above, and in the lyrics as a whole.  You can't automatically extrapolate from your own life to other people's, or tar everybody with the same brush. The fact that we live in a particular way - whether largely considered or largely autopilot - doesn't necessarily mean we deny any other way in the world.  Sure, whatever path you take in life over whatever roads you choose will exclude other paths - so choose carefully, and keep navigating carefully.  But, this doesn't mean you necessarily deny the other paths - you may even be learning from them, like each time you, for example, pick up a serious book and get vicarious experience of someone else's path.

I'm just finding the way of thinking espoused in these lyrics too closed, too generalised, and pretty self-defeating.

Why each of us must choose
I've never understood
One special friend
One true love

I don't know where the narrator gets the idea that each of us must choose the things he purports we must choose.  Many people choose quite different things.  If monogamy doesn't agree with you, then be polyamorous or whatever else - but be honest about it.  Nobody is, these days, in Western society, that compelled to choose from narrow social mores.  You're not a victim of the system here, you're responsible for making your own choices.

Why each of us must lose everyone else in the world

This line either goes with the above, or can be considered separately - and I used to consider it separately, and wrote about that on the other thread (excerpt was included above).

But, it seems from that discussion and from the interview excerpts, it actually was really intended to go with the preceding three lines, and that the writer considers the act of choosing one relationship the loss of every other potential relationship, which is kind of silly when you think about the fact that you couldn't get around to everyone else who would agree to have you anyway even if you didn't choose just one person - which nobody is making you do... It's sort of like the Monty Python parody called "Every Sperm Is Sacred" - millions and millions of sperm on a daily basis from just one male, and yet only a very tiny fraction of them, if any, will ever actually go into making another individual, even if you had a thousand concubines, a roster to get around to them all, and a truckload of Viagra.  So, I'm not going to weep over the loss of all those potential genetic combinations, or the loss of all those potential love lives / that marginally better love life someone feels they are missing out on.  What I'm actually going to say is, get over yourself, and appreciate what you have, and perhaps think about what you're giving, as an antidote to what you think you're not getting.  It's funny how you get more out of life if you put more into it...

If you've got a healthy, functional, affectionate, alive, adventurous, fun, intellectually stimulating, mutually supportive relationship with a person you love and who loves you, just count your blessings.  It's kind of grating to be writing a song like that from that position, and not just for your partner.

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day play out our lives
However confused
Pretending to know to the end

If you're confused, and pretending, then the person you need to take to task is yourself. Why make a pretence of something you don't believe?  Why just fit your life into some kind of external mould like you're a piece of jelly - and then complain about it?  This is the very opposite of living authentically - of being true to yourself.  If you're going along with something you don't agree with, you're not offering an alternative take, just adding to the peer pressure for mindless conformity.

It's the pretending to know I have particular issues with, because it's lying to everyone else, and knowing it.

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

I've seen this kind of leaping to unwarranted conclusions before, in How Beautiful You Are: http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770682#msg770682

So, what is the truth?  What is right?  What is love?  What is real?  It's far more constructive to think about what those things mean to you, than to just say what they're not.

I can really, really see how the writer's wife was upset about this, because it smacks of self-indulgence and self-pity masquerading as philosophy, and because it's a completely disrespectful thing for a person who chose to get married to another person, and purports to be happily married, to say about their mutual life.  You sort of think, sheesh, maybe you ought to have had these thoughts before, and maybe you shouldn't have pretended, as you say... because that's dragging someone else into your crap. :evil:

How each of us believes
I've never really known
In heaven unseen and hell unknown

Apart from the over-generalising, which has been a consistent problem throughout, that's a fair enough thing to wonder.  But, the over-generalising is really starting to get old.  Not everyone believes in heaven and hell, in the religious sense.  You know what though, people can be really good at creating their own hell, for themselves and those close to them, with their attitudes.

How each of us dreams to understand anything at all

This isn't fair enough, this seems to be extrapolating from yourself to other people.  It is actually possible to understand some things - even William Berkeley, with his idea that all of reality was just a big matrix created by God and we were all just blobs of disembodied consciousness thinking we were physical beings in a physical world, thought there were some things you could definitely know.  Here's some basics:  1 + 1 = 2 (even though mathematics is a construct, its tenets are backed up by proofs and the system is internally consistent).  The earth revolves around the sun (unless you're going to argue that we're living in a big matrix and that these things are abstract ideas instead of physical realities).  You can make a green watercolour shade by mixing blue and yellow watercolours.  January is followed by February.

Epistemology (how anything can be known) is a really fascinating part of philosophy - I'd encourage anyone who's not looked at that to do themselves a big favour.  Accessible resources exist, and for a complete beginner, I'd recommend Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World, and the Teach Yourself series book on Philosophy.

Why each of us decides
I've never been sure
The part we take
The way we are
Why each of us denies every other way in the world

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day play out our lives
However confused
Pretending to know to the end

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie
This isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

Etc etc, as had.  It's interesting how some close listening, and looking at an interview comment, can change the way you see a song.  I also think there's a danger, when you write a song like that, that you're going to be more likely to keep upholding a limiting point of view, or errors in reasoning, than if you hadn't, because you've sort of set it in stone, and it's a beautiful-sounding song, and each time you sing it, you're likely to reinforce that way of thinking.  This gets us into the psychology of previous investment, which is another interesting thing to consider - isn't it great that a massive library is at our fingertips in this day and age?

So, the art of disagreeing, and distinguishing between opinions/arguments and people.  I've got a bit of practice at that, having a number of friends who are religious fundamentalists, and deniers of anthropogenic climate change (and it's generally unproductive to discuss these things with them, and more productive to focus on positive things you can co-operate on).  Those are big differences, and it's my view that fundamentalism and climate change denial are especially difficult positions to uphold when examined rationally, but those friends give me plenty of reasons to respect and value them, and really deserve to be my friends.  So, I don't think it's necessary to look down on people who hold views we don't agree with.  I'm still learning lots of stuff, and I sometimes blanch at some of the things I believed in the past, and will most likely blanch again, but we're none of us born knowing anything, and we're all works in progress.

♦ ♥ ♦

I'm going to tack on another post-script, to talk a little about how I saw this song before I looked at it the way I do above.  Imagine for a moment you're seeing the Earth as a blue marble in space, and zooming in on it, and getting closer and closer until you can see individual rooftops in a city, and then you're swooping down into someone's lounge room looking at their TV screen, and it's the evening news.  It's madness, it's obscene - the wars, the feuds, the lies, the desecration of the planet and each other, the unimportant things held in high esteem, the important things that are trampled, the greed, the unkindness, the sociopaths in power in dictatorships but also in places where people actually vote for their leaders... etc.  How did it get like this?  And in the context of that, watching all that mess, it would be natural to wonder - and now I'm going to paraphrase part of those lyrics slightly differently, from the point of view of a visiting space alien, who says:

How people decide
I can't understand
The part they play
The way they are
Why so many deny other ways to be in this world

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day they collectively play out their lives
However confused
Or even pretending to know to the end

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie
This isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

The angle from which you look makes such a difference.  Here, we're looking at really obvious problems.  I've paraphrased to "they" because we now have an outside observer of this madness we see on the evening news, which is more familiar to even the most evening news-avoiding of us than to this completely bewildered outside observer of our supposedly intelligent species (I'm imagining our observer to be in nature very like a hrossa from Out Of The Silent Planet).  The comments become about the overall pattern, the overall mess, and avoid generalising, because there's a spectrum out there.  They rightly point out that there is a big problem, and that the problem boils down to how individuals decide to live  - or are anaesthetised, whichever it might be.  Collectively, we're making bad choices; and individually, each of us makes at least some bad choices, even if we try really hard not to (but hopefully we get better with reflection and practice).

The quick paraphrase above is just a sketch for the purpose of this discussion - I'd not offer that as any kind of song lyrics because first of all, it doesn't sound poetic enough now that I've put qualifiers everywhere and messed up the meter and the flow, and I'd have to find a way to be both specific like that, and poetic.  Secondly, I'd want another week or so to check and re-check for errors in thinking or in conveying - to de-bug the software, basically - before coming up with a more acceptable version, and even then...

Anyway, that's the sort of images that were popping up in my mind in my early listens to This Is A Lie, when I listened impressionistically to lyrics which are open to interpretation - sort of like a Rorschach test  ;) - as opposed to taking them literally, with the added information from that interview, and deconstructing them and seeing if their premises hold up to scrutiny.  I don't think I've pinned this song, by the way - just explored some implications earlier which may or may not have been intended by the writer at the time of writing.

I don't envy professional songwriters and poets that their life's work is forever on the public record from its beginnings, which might be early 20s or even before that.  We're generally learning and developing as we get older, and tend from the beginning to be saddled with quite a load of dysfunctions and human error, some of which we might become aware of down the track.  So, if you write and publish poetry about personal things, any early (or later) misconceptions will be out there, even if you now think totally differently about many things.  It's why some songwriters have written "antidote songs" in response to earlier songs they were unable obviously to undo, such as Sting writing If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free in postscript and as a correction to Every Breath You Take; and why Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 is so different to his Sonnet 18.  Of course, we can't expect to "get it right" from the go-get, or all the time, and that's normal.  And if you wouldn't do certain things differently now compared to ten years ago, then you've not learnt anything in the last ten years...
SueC is time travelling


Now we're onto remixes, a big feature of CD-4 of this set.

When I was much younger, I was less interested in remixes and more interested in the "right" version of a song. Sometimes I liked a remix because it made a song I loved much longer, without interfering with aspects of its character that I enjoyed.  But, often remixes sounded "mangled" to me.

Sometimes, I still think a remix does kind of mangle a song; but I no longer think any remix that's got a very different character to the original song has been mangled.  For me these days, "mangled" means filled with (to me) unpleasant sounds or sound effects; and I'm sure some of the stuff I'd describe as mangled, other people with different tastes would really enjoy, and be surprised I feel that way.  (I now refer people back to the Smorgasbord analogy: http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770671#msg770671)

One thing that really changed my attitude to remixes as a young person was grunge happening.  This is because the advent of grunge, in my 20s, meant I stopped listening to contemporary music radio and went instead on a deep (and ongoing) journey into classical and folk music.  I now had a CD player in my car and no longer needed to default to radio, so the commute became an opportunity for music education.

I'm not from a musical family - other than that a grandfather I never met played piano.  The only real exposure I had to classical music was at school.  I remember when a primary teacher brought in a classical piece and said it was about flowers waiting to burst out from under the snow in the springtime, and we were all going to be flowers and listen to the piece and get ready to burst out from the snow and grow towards the sun - the music would tell us what to do, when.  And so, we all got on the floor in child pose, all over the room, and listened to the sound unfolding, and slowly unfolded ourselves, and when the music built to a crescendo, we all stood up and reached up our arms and tilted our faces to the sun, and there were smiles everywhere because this was actually a really lovely thing to do.

In middle school music classes later on, I was forced to listen to Holst's Planet Suite, which struck me as dreary and violent, and coloured my opinion of classical music as torture dreamed up by boring old fogeys for infliction upon the young.  The classical stations were chloroform via soundwaves, to my young mind.  (I think in part that's a programming problem - a lot of classical stations do sound like anaesthesia when they're playing really long, boring, nothing-happening symphonies, usually in the middle of the day - you know the sort, with E-strings scratching away in the background like fingers down the blackboard, and the occasional violent burst of kettledrums to wake everyone up.)

But then, in 1984, the film Amadeus came along, and considerably tweaked my perceptions.  I was now once more open to the idea of listening to classical music.  But, I didn't buy my first classical CDs until I was a university student - Mozart, from the specials rack - because, as I said, music was not much of a thing in the house where I grew up (I'm not counting being exposed to heavy metal turned up to wall-shaking levels by my older, teenage, brother), and my CD collection as a high school student was tiny - less than a dozen.

The next fortuitous thing that nudged me further into classical music was boarding in a very musical household for a while, when I was 27 and doing my first year of teaching at high school (post research / university teaching).  Mother and daughter played piano, and loved music, and I very fondly remember listening to them play.  They also talked passionately about music with me, and played back CDs, and encouraged me to borrow from their collection.

When you start listening to classical music on a regular basis, you can't help hearing different versions of the same compositions.  I started to notice, for instance, how different recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons emphasised different qualities in the composition, and how there was no one right way to perform it, just versions I preferred to others.

And this exact thing now makes me far more interested in remixes than I was as a young adult.  I'm interested in hearing other versions of songs I like - and sometimes surprised that I enjoy a remix of a song I didn't like before.

The fourth track on CD-4 of Join The Dots is an ambient remix of This Is A Lie.  This version really foregrounds the string quartet and is beautifully arranged.  I listened to the original version on Wild Mood Swings for comparison and couldn't tell you which I prefer - I think it would depend on my mood.  The original version has more energy, the remix more depth.  If I was only allowed to keep one version, I would keep the remix, because the strings really carry this piece.

Brett and I had an interesting discussion over how much lyrics matter to us in our enjoyment of music that's got singing in it.  He estimates that for him they're usually worth about a third.  He says lyrics can ruin a song for him - like finding out a song he liked for its Medieval atmosphere was actually about John Lennon (the same song, Moonlight Shadow, I thought sounded like an advertising jingle for a dishwashing liquid, but if you'd told me it was about John Lennon I might have liked it slightly more).  Brett says that often he's not even fully aware of the meaning of a song, in part because he can't hear a lot of the lyrics - he says singers often mumble them, or think guitars are so much more important that they drown out the vocals with them.  He doesn't look at lyric sheets much, and says that a lot of lyrics are inscrutable anyway - wryly adding that many songs are probably written with people totally drunk or high and that you'd have to be on the same stuff to have half a chance of working out what they mean, or at least for it to seem profound.  He kept citing Cure lyrics at me and saying, "I don't know why you're not putting this in, it's funny!"  :-D  :kissing_smiling_eyes:

So it would be fair to say that Brett has lower expectations of lyrics than I do, and is therefore less likely to be disappointed - especially as he doesn't often sit down and solidly work at figuring out what a song is about.  He says some songs have very obvious meanings and their vocalists sing clearly, but he's not particularly into figuring out murky things, which may not be worth the time anyway as they may just be badly written.

Sometimes, if a radio is on somewhere, I'll go, "OMG, what are those people singing???" and I tell you what, perhaps it's better that you don't know.  I think my overall enjoyment of contemporary music as a whole would be much improved if everybody sang in Swahili.

For me, lyrics make up around half of my enjoyment of music, and I've almost always sat down to try to figure them out - more seriously in my youth than now - sometimes I just half-listen these days. I can't run a full literary analysis on every single thing I listen to anymore, it would just get exhausting.  I appreciate it when people articulate clearly and write lyrics that can be followed first time around - people who are really good at that include Suzanne Vega, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Kate Miller-Heidke, Mike Scott, Karen Matheson (from Capercaillie), Paul Kelly, and Liam O'Maonlai - and I think Bloodflowers is really worth commending on that front too.

It's funny, I've had people on Reddit say to me, "You like Bloodflowers? Wait until you hear a good Cure album."  Presumptuous ignoramuses.  If I'd heard any of their previous records instead of this one as my first full listen, I'd not have been anywhere near as impressed - Disintegration is excellent, but not particularly emotionally mature.  That's been a bugbear for me with earlier Cure albums, and was a big reason I was never a fan as a teenager.  I was looking for responsible, thoughtful adults for my role models back then, seeing as I didn't have those at home.

It is actually pretty difficult to be mining the back archives of a band when you're in midlife, and you're going backwards from a gem like Bloodflowers, where you feel you're actually listening to an equivalent adult singing.  Sitting down seriously with the lyrics to This Is A Lie was really disappointing, even though that was recorded only four years earlier - and there's a few like that on Wild Mood Swings, and on earlier albums.  It's a particular pity with This Is A Lie because it's musically fabulous, and it's a decent vocal performance too.  I don't think it's totally ruined the song for me, but it's certainly put a damper on it - about like listening to a song with lyrics trying to convince people that the Earth is only 7000 years old, or that the Port Arthur massacre was a government conspiracy.  I'd enjoy it more in Swahili.

Anyway, returning to remixes - the fifth track on CD-4 is a remix of Wrong Number.  I have a great deal of affection for the original - I love its energy, and it was a song I misappropriated for dealing with an ongoing difficult situation in my life - does anyone here ever do that, just cherry-pick bits of lyrics that go with a particular situation, and re-write a song in their heads so they can use it for a particular purpose which has nothing to do with the intended meaning (if any) of the song?  Or write comedic lyrics to go with classical pieces?  I misappropriated The Blue Danube to write a very silly ditty about Brett once.  We also like to "translate" the lyrics to screechy opera duets on the run - you know, when the lovers quarrel in Italian - and I'll do the female part, and Brett will do the male part, like, "What, potatoes for dinner again???"  :winking_tongue

Anyway, the original Wrong Number is wonderfully noisy in the right kind of way; the remix feels like a party remix to me, and I never was into those sorts of parties.  Usually I enjoy female backing vocals, but I don't enjoy this vocalist, she's really brash; also, I'm not a fan of the voice processing exemplified by that remix; it sounds in parts like there's reverse peristalsis going on.  To me, the original version rockets off into the stratosphere, while the remix is rolling around on the ground convulsing.  However, if I'm netting fruit trees or making compost, it's OK listening because I'm not listening too hard, or thinking about it too much.  Brett, by the way, didn't like the remix at all, but really liked the original as well.

Next on CD-4 is More Than This, from the X-files soundtrack.  Musically we both enjoy it.  Brett was a fan of the TV series (for the first five years only), I wasn't.  The song goes with the UST between the lead characters in the drama series.  That kind of being in love I got over a long time ago because it's just a form of self-torture and not based on anything real.  It's the kind of being in love that increases in direct proportion to the lack of interest of the beloved, and that's a dysfunctional thing that takes you nowhere good.  It's the ignored toddler in you hoping the significant others in its life will finally shine sunbeams upon it, and it's just as doomed.  Paul Kelly wrote a wonderful song called Beggar On The Street Of Love.  It's topical and I'm going out with the Jenny Morris cover because she sings it beautifully.

More on the weekend (maybe - I'm temporarily out of words  :1f634:).
SueC is time travelling


Construction notice - a postscript has been added to Post #49.  Just one of those topics...

In my CD-4 discussion, I'm up to World In My Eyes, which I didn't realise until last week is a cover of a Depeche Mode song - because I don't consult sleeve notes etc until later on in the piece (although I do look up lyrics I can't hear clearly fairly early on), and because I'm not a Depeche Mode fan.  I wasn't in the 80s, because I didn't like synth pop, and I'm not after checking back for the purposes of this discussion, either.  I don't like the original World In My Eyes, having now heard it; and musically much prefer the Cure cover of it, which is more layered, more complex, not grating, not cold.  I don't have any urges to skip that track when running through this CD.

Lyrically, well, let's just say that I'm getting a bit ambivalent about looking too closely at lyrics at the moment lest it destroy my enjoyment... The words to this kind of grate if you look at them one way, and pass as just another of the countless odes to sex which are neither offensive nor particularly inspirational, if you look at it from a different angle.  (We went to a blues gig last night and heard quite a few of these there... http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=8725.msg771257#msg771257)

Which brings us to the brilliant track Possession, my favourite off this CD and already previewed here: http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770923#msg770923

All right - here's the clip for Possession again, simply because:

It's worth going back to the lyrics for this (the prior post has them) if you don't catch them all.

I do think this is a fabulous song, and it's the kind of song that isn't spoilt for me if I listen to it frequently - it's got enough depth to keep getting new things from it with each listen.  The lyrics are about something quite fundamental to the human experience - something that everyone has to grapple with - and the music is wonderfully evocative, even spooky.  You could use the instrumental part of the music as a backdrop to stories about haunted houses (of modern construction, like a haunted skyscraper or airport terminal), zombies (albeit happy, upbeat ones that perhaps have just found a big vat of brains to eat), quests etc.

I've just asked Brett to have a listen and he's getting computer game vibes, and travelling montages going from A to B.  So there we are, folks - that's the concept of intertextuality raising its head again - every person brings a different set of prior texts/experiences and ideas to literature, music etc and it affects how we interpret it.  In some ways, music and literature are like Rorschach tests - what do you see?

If we're going to compare texts, an obvious one for me to bring into the discussion is the 1960s classic drama series The Prisoner, which I just finished watching last week: The last episode of that just instantly connected to this song for me, because both are about our shadow sides / evil twins.

If you've never watched The Prisoner, I highly recommend it.  It came to me courtesy of my husband's extensive interest in good drama and cinema - something in his collection he said I should give a try almost from the moment we met - and because of that I've also seen, and very much liked, Edge Of Darkness (BBC version), The Lives Of Others, Life On Mars / Ashes To Ashes, Secretary, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, American Beauty, Wonderfalls, Neverwhere, The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Almost Famous, Blade Runner, House (which I binge-watched like nothing else), most of the classic series of Dr Who (we're up to Sylvester McCoy), and the modern series from Matt Smith onwards (going to get to the earlier ones after the classic series, but I have seen Blink :heart-eyes).  Although he's definitely put more time into watching drama than me, I did manage to introduce him to a few gems as well - Amadeus, Three Colours Blue, Three Colours Red, and Scientific Eye's Food Chains :rofl.

(So, let me also recommend marriage to you for the purposes of mutually beneficial exchange of cultural experiences.  :cool)

If you've not seen The Prisoner, you may want to stop reading until you have, because I'm going to discuss the answer to the question:  Who is Number 1?  So shoo, unless you've seen it!  :P

Here's the usual intro to episodes of The Prisoner, as a taster:

So, all through the 17 episodes, the big mystery was:  Who is Number 1?  Who is behind all this stuff?  Except that typically, I didn't care very much about that, because I'm used to that sort of facelessness.  Nevertheless, the big reveal in Episode 17 is that Number 6 himself is apparently Number 1! Bwahahaha!  At that point, I saw the whole thing as a modern fairytale, and took from it that the source of all the awful stuff in society is actually from the shadow side of ourselves. I wasn't going down the road to thinking he had an actual evil twin - there were too many other things shifting too, for it not to be a fairytale, in my opinion. Brett has a different interpretation - he thinks Number 6 is strapped to a table somewhere hallucinating the whole thing - but can't tell me when the hallucinations began - they'd have to be at least two episodes long, or indeed, maybe he just started hallucinating at the very beginning when they piped that gas through the keyhole of his house! Famously, there are a thousand different interpretations of this series, and meant to be.  (More Rorschach testing!  ;))

I think it's a great ending, and that it's way more important that a work of art gets you thinking and asking all sorts of questions, than that it provides a "satisfying" ending.  Cognitive dissonance is a great motivator for learning.

So, in the end, it's very like something I wrote in an essay as a 16-year-old, in a bout of youthful cynicism:  People keep going on about the Apocalyptic Horsemen, but in reality we see them in the mirror every morning.  I was a funny 16-year-old, but I was spot on about that one, and it's actually not cynicism, it's more like realism...

There's this human tendency to want to locate evil outside of the self.  When bad things happen, it's someone else's fault - the bad guy's, usually, because according to this way of thinking, in the world there's good guys and bad guys, heroes and antiheroes - and nothing in-between.  (Well, that's cartoon-land, and B-grade cartoon-land at that.)  If it's not someone else's fault, but it's demonstrably my bad, then it's still not my fault really, because the devil made me do it.

How much more honest and refreshing is the idea that each of us are capable of great goodness as well as great evil - and that we're each responsible for our own actions.  Most of us are chimeras, mixtures of dark and light - and I don't think it was an accident that the masks used in the final episodes of The Prisoner had a black half and a white half over each face; it represents that same idea, of opposites in the same person, contradictions in each of us.  Nobody is entirely good, and presumably nobody is entirely bad either - Hitler was apparently nice to his dog - although I have heard it said, "If you think there is good in everybody, then you haven't met everybody."

So there's opposites, and things on a spectrum too - think of good and bad on a spectrum with neutral in the middle - and then there's that good and bad in itself is a) an oversimplification, and b) insufficient to describe everything relevant to this topic.  There's a line from Where The Birds Always Sing, "The world is neither fair nor unfair / The world is neither just nor unjust" and that's not just an important thing to understand about being in the world, but also a concept that sometimes applies to ourselves - for example, when you're slapping a mosquito, you're destroying a life - but it would be a mistake to assign that a moral value, since it's an instinctive reaction to an insect bite - in the same way that you can't call a lion "bad" for killing a gazelle.

I'm not quite done with Possession yet.  Let's have those lyrics again - and this time I'm annotating:


The other one feeds on my hesitation
Grows inside of my trepidation
Buries his claws in my dislocation

...I like how this is pointing out that it's our internal problems which feed our shadow side.  I like the wording - feeding on / buries his claws conjures predation, and growing inside parasitism.  The shadow side very much comes across here as an illness, a menacing entity, something that besets you rather than being invited or encouraged.
I whisper your name to lose control
...the name of the shadow side? ...also interesting because this wording could suggest playing with fire, and now actually inviting the shadow side to do its thing - letting it have the steering wheel. Just conjecturing - this one you'd have to talk to the writer about.

I take a step and over my shoulder
His roll-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His snow-white thighs press closer and colder
Murmur in me to let him go

...this so neatly mirrors the first verse, both in its construction and rhyme scheme (AAAB), and in its contrast between the first three lines and the last.  Again, the first three lines sound like something horrible you'd want to avoid, and then the last one suggests an invitation extended to this thing - although more under duress in this verse... And I love the word-play, as I often do with this particular writer of lyrics - High is a nice example of that... we all know snow-white, but roll-white is a neat little construction and very cinematic; I'm seeing it immediately...
...also, the imagery in the first three lines does strongly suggest that what he sees looking over his shoulder is himself, some version of it, and at the same time I'm getting goblin vibes...

The other one thrives on my desperation
Fills me up with my intoxication
Sinks his teeth in my deviation
Suffering me to lose control

...the shadow side again comes across as menacing and opportunistic, and increasingly evil, and somehow with the imagery of teeth being sunk in, the whole thing is becoming vicariously painful... I think it's intriguing here to have the wording my intoxication... and likewise, the choice of the term suffering me to lose control - the term means allowing, but because few people use it that way, its more common usage comes across strongly at the same time... allowing me to lose control, but also, the pain of it... and a tension between being the person who is being parasitised, predated upon, haunted, hurt by this thing, and also on some level extending an invitation to it... this is so very well done, full of the contradictions and cognitive dissonance that come with being human...

Hold my mouth, taste his breath
Hissing, breathing are the same
Snakes its sound inside my head
Sickening me to let him go

The nightmarish imagery just keeps intensifying here... and the rhyme scheme is temporarily abandoned, but doing that, apart from probably being due to practicalities, also creates a structural contrast with the verses before and after, and a slight setting apart; so it all works really well.  This is thoroughly effective writing.  There's this overwhelming sense of struggle, of intrusion, and just layers and layers of imagery.  Note the ambiguity in the way the word snakes is being used - is it a noun, or a verb? - but you can read it both ways, and in various ways, and these things just pile one on top of the other, cumulatively, making a mountain of weight out of an economy of words.  Four short lines, one long and vivid nightmare.  This time, the last line is suggesting that giving in to this shadow side is like an illness.

Were these lyrics an assignment, I'd be getting the Freddo frogs ready to staple to it.  It's A+ already and we've not even finished yet.  You can't give someone more than 10/10, but you can certainly attach more than one chocolate frog to their piece and plaster smilies everywhere. :)

I take a step and over my shoulder
His pain-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His stain-white thighs press closer and colder
Murdering me to let him go

This verse echoes the second verse, but intensifies it.  Roll-white has become pain-white, and snow-white has mutated into stain-white.  Again, brilliantly evocative imagery.  You can also look at pain and stain as an echo of the ideas already conveyed earlier, of hurt and shame being yet more vulnerabilities this beast can sink its claws into.  ...and now the shadow side is murdering our protagonist, or at least who he would (mostly) like to be, in order to take over.  This is full combat and a divided self; I'm also getting Gollum riding Frodo inside Mount Doom...

I try to resist the gruesome kiss
I twist to deny the blood-hot bliss
But I always feel myself becoming him

I like the way the first and second lines set up a tension between disgust/horror and blood-hot bliss (again, just such evocative wording here, and multi-component imagery from the same phrase)... it echoes the running theme in this song of the tension between being the victim of this thing, and being its enabler and on some level willing host...
By the third line, the protagonist becomes his shadow, like someone turning into a werewolf...

And the last thing I remember
It isn't me, it isn't me, it isn't me
But then it never is...

...and that's an excellent conclusion, both the horror of not being who you (mostly) want to be, through having turned into your own shadow - and the ironic reference to the excuses that can be made for this kind of thing, in the last line... I don't think he lets himself off the hook for this; it seems to me that the sense of being responsible for your own self rather than making excuses is also in that last line - but again, for the definitive commentary you will have to apply to the author! :)

Just excellent...

SueC is time travelling


Just wanted to let people know I will actually eventually finish this, I promise, we're just really busy right now and both had a nasty cold for weeks, which didn't help any.  You'd think it would, because being ill involves bed rest or semi bed rest, and laptops exist, even at our place, but I felt like an elephant was sitting on my head and bleh and therefore, writing cohesively was not on the agenda...
SueC is time travelling


Well, Happy New Year, everybody! :)  I've finally got some time to get back to this.  Since I've got three more Cure studio albums arriving in the mail over the next week or two, I thought I'd better finish this before I'm up to my chin in new stuff again...

Next on the list after that marvellous track called Possession are two remixes from Bloodflowers, which is one of my favourite albums ever, and one of only two released in the last 20 years that made a deep impression on me to date (I don't listen to much contemporary music anymore, and certainly don't cast my net wide in that genre - there's too much else to appreciate and do to be fishing around much in that murky billabong populated by anaerobic bacteria).

These remixes of Out Of This World and Maybe Someday are like songs that have taken off their wizard robes to get into pyjamas.  A nice person is still a nice person if they're wearing their pyjamas.  You wouldn't mind offering a cup of tea to Gandalf in his pyjamas, would you?  But you'd probably cheer if he put his pointy hat on and started reciting incantations.

Brett was telling me that the island of Ibiza has a reputation for UK tourists coming there to dance to (often hideous if you ask me) electronic music... and perhaps this offers a clue as to why a lot of perfectly good wizardy songs get a danceable remix treatment.  Personally, I find the idea of dancing to deep and meaningful numbers paradoxical - for those kinds of songs I prefer to sit on the ground and listen.  If you want to wiggle, you can listen to The Wiggles.  I don't get the urge to wiggle very often myself - and if I do want to tap my toes, there's plenty of decent folk music to be had.

A general question about the remix of Out Of This World - what on earth is that person saying in the background?  I keep hearing "bathtub" and find that highly disconcerting.  Surely that background person can't be saying "bathtub"!  Yes, yes, I am beginning to look at special offers for hearing aids, to prepare for the future, but meanwhile, if anyone reading wishes to present a more plausible alternative, do you see that "Quick Reply" box below?  Avail yourself of it, I pray thee.

And now, the lyrics to said song:


When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me wide eyed
I wonder will we really remember
How it feels to be this alive?

And I know we have to go, I realise
We only get to stay so long
Always have to go back to real lives
Where we belong

When we think back to all this and I'm sure we will
Me and you here and now
Will we forget the way it really is
Why it feels like this and how?

And we always have to go, I realise
We always have to say goodbye
Always have to go back to real lives
But real lives are the reason why
We want to live another life
We want to feel another time
Another time, another time
To feel another time

When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me wide eyed
I wonder will we really remember
How it feels to be this alive?

I know we have to go, I realise
We always have to turn away
Always have to go back to real lives
But real lives are why we stay
For another dream, another day
For another world, for another way
For another way

One last time before it's over
One last time before the end
One last time before it's time to go again

Today was the first time I looked up these lyrics, and saw that I had slightly misheard some things when listening these past five years, and sometimes when you mishear things, you keep mishearing them - especially if they make sense to you that way.  My slight mishearing of things gave me a different context to the one this was officially written for.  According to Robert Smith, "Out of This World is about how The Cure operates in some wonderland, a parallel universe. The Cure is an island. It always has been." ...and ... "I was just trying to get that sense that I often have which is a kind of curse that whenever I'm enjoying something, I'm always thinking that it's gonna end."  (from https://genius.com/The-cure-out-of-this-world-lyrics)

It's very useful to have commentary from the actual writer, and the song makes perfect sense that way.  However, the song is also applicable to other stuff.  For example, I very much felt like that about being in a classroom, because often that was magic, and I feel aspects of that about being married to my favourite person.  One of the big things about poetry and music is being able to find things in each of them that resonate with your own experience.  It's that sense that you're not the only person who feels like this.  Since these kinds of things aren't discussed very much in the everyday business of life, many of us, as adolescents, start doing deep dives into poetry books and music to discover that other people exist who think and feel on levels we might rarely see in our immediate environments.  Eventually our circles expand to include such people, and then we even get to have discussions about these things whenever we want to.

A line just popped into my head when I thought about the last sentence above:  Every shipwrecked soul knows what it is to live without intimacy.  That one, by the way, is courtesy of Bono, from the other album of the last 20 years that made a significant impact on me.

With Out Of This World I was thinking how that phrase immediately means two things to me:  If something is "out of this world" it is extremely good - but to go "out of this world" is to die, and I think the song is about the tension between these things - and for me, this is a reminder to live a meaningful life, instead of letting it slip away amongst the anaesthesia of frivolities.  I'm going to quote Thoreau:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..."

That quote went up on the wall above my desk when I was 17, and it has informed my life ever since - along with a bunch of other things. I love how humanising writing and thinking and music can be, and how critical thinking, and independent thinking, are the antidotes to the general brainwash and Newspeak out there.

Before I finish:  Besides the two angles to the phrase "out of this world" mentioned above, there's a couple of additional ideas that come to mind.  One is the idea of escape; how a good book or piece of music or visual art etc literally takes you out of this world, to another place - a sort of magical realm.  The same thing can happen, if you're lucky, with stuff you do professionally - as per Robert Smith's parallel universe with his band, or with magic moments in a classroom where ordinary life is transcended, or with times when writing prose is like taking dictation, or whatever creative and/or cooperative thing you do that lifts you up to the sky on a regular basis.  And another way to look at the phrase is that we make these things "out of this world"...literally from the raw materials of existence.

Also, an elaboration on how I "heard" the song before reading the writer's comments:  The mishearing was around not hearing "real life" but always thinking it was "realise" repeated - and I was therefore interpreting the song as a general comment on life and mortality.  I was also thinking the "you and me" referred to a couple, because I was reading the "you" as singular - and that's something where the English language is really unhelpful, because you never know how many people are being addressed when it is used - is it one person, or several?  With those variations, it was easy to think it was a like a conversation with your spouse, where you're saying, "Here we are with everything very good, kind of at the peak of our lives, having such wonderful experiences, but we are going to get old (unless we meet our demise statistically early), and how will it be then, and what will we see when we're looking back on this time of our lives, when we're 80?  And won't we wish we could have our lives over again, because time is so short?" (ad-libbing here)

I think that's the kind of thoughts any happy couple would have, at some point - wanting to slow down your good moments, to stretch time so that you can get a hundred years in the place of one and be none the worse for wear.  Personally, it's something my husband and I are aware of, but avoid wallowing in, because you could really spoil the time you do have by stressing out over the fact that it's limited.  It's better to live it to the full, and to remain emotionally in the present, and not to look a gift horse in the mouth, either.

Sometimes that's easier said than done - when I started having to put down large animals due to illness/age, and had three deaths in a row in the space of less than five years, I started seeing dead bodies everywhere - I couldn't look at our animals without imagining them ending up as corpses on the ground.  It took a while before I could get myself out of that macabre forward projection, and stay with what is, in the present.  In part, I had to come to better terms with mortality, which is actually easier for your own case than it is to accept it for the beings you love, but even that you can come around to (and how I did that is here: http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9196.msg770437#msg770437).

Anyway, although the song actually wasn't about that, I find many of the sentiments expressed to fit it too.  Shakespeare famously used the stage as an analogy for life (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56966/speech-all-the-worlds-a-stage), and it works here as well.  In broader terms, we're all human beings trying to make something meaningful out of our lives, facing mortality with so much of beauty and worth all around and with other beings who are precious to you in the same boat.  You don't have to be on an actual stage to feel the things expressed in this song - there are all kinds of parallel universes where those thoughts would fit.

And because of it's an age-old subject which was touched on in this post, here's two poems by William Butler Yeats about love and death which I really like, and which I think have more of use to say than Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (https://poets.org/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night):


When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Behold the flashing waters
A cloven dancing jet,
That from the milk-white marble
For ever foam and fret;
Far off in drowsy valleys
Where the meadow saffrons blow,
The feet of summer dabble
In their coiling calm and slow.
The banks are worn forever
By a people sadly gay:
A Titan with loud laughter,
Made them of fire clay.
Go ask the springing flowers,
And the flowing air above,
What are the twin-born waters,
And they'll answer Death and Love.

With wreaths of withered flowers
Two lonely spirits wait
With wreaths of withered flowers
'Fore paradise's gate.
They may not pass the portal
Poor earth-enkindled pair,
Though sad is many a spirit
To pass and leave them there
Still staring at their flowers,
That dull and faded are.
If one should rise beside thee,
The other is not far.
Go ask the youngest angel,
She will say with bated breath,
By the door of Mary's garden
Are the spirits Love and Death.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

Maybe Someday next time - and then something I've been plotting for a while, which is going to take in a lot of other music for a bout of comparative musicology.  :winking_tongue
SueC is time travelling


Well, 4:13 Dream has arrived in the mail for $13 including postage, "slightly used, excellent condition" and indeed has no scratches and you wouldn't know someone bought and listened to it before me, other than it didn't have a clear wrapper over the top, which not all new CDs have anyway.  The remastered versions of Kiss Me and The Head On The Door are on their way from the UK, so I want to get a move on and finish this B-sides thread.

An aside - this is the worst cover art I've ever seen on any album, I mean, honestly, it's just horrible.  The cover is reminiscent of a burnt clown talking to a burnt bushfire victim and conjures walking corpses and Stephen King horror as portrayed by a 9-year-old.  I live with an actual graphic designer and have actual artist friends, all of whom are perfectly capable of doing quality work that is delightful to look at, or at least has a point... and this kind of "professional" work simply leaves me cold.  The lyric sheet looks like someone has sneezed all over it in technicolour, just yuck.  I've turned the cover back to front to improve the experience of picking this CD up off the shelf.  It's a good thing you can't judge a book by its cover.

Today I'd like to briefly tackle the Maybe Someday remix on Join The Dots CD-4, so I can clear the road for a post I've been planning for a while.  So here goes.

Music first.  I compared the acoustic remix to the Bloodflowers version by listening to both repeatedly in the past couple of weeks.  If I'd heard the acoustic version first, I'd still have liked it, but with the electric guitars it's just so much more powerful.  The acoustic version inspires reflection, the album version is like lift-off in a jet airliner - the same feeling of becoming airborne, of being hurled forwards and upwards.  Music really does do interesting things to one's brain, and has a visceral power not generally equalled by other forms of art.

Something that keeps me listening to The Cure - and there's lots of things that keep me listening to this band - is the tonal beauty of the guitars on a lot of pieces, this one included.  To come up with arresting melodies and textures is already a gift, but to have those things combined with exceptional beauty in the tone of the playing and the voices of the instruments is magnificent.  (The Loudest Sound, by the way, is a particularly good example of this.)

It seems to me that quite a few male musicians, especially in the "hard rock" end of the spectrum, play their guitars like they sing - really "rough and tough" with deliberately grating qualities, rather than beautifully - and I've never liked that.  Jimmy Barnes, for example, sings like he gargles with Drano before breakfast.  He's a lovely person in interviews, but this is just something many rock singers seem to do deliberately - a lot of heavy metal singers screech and sound generally constipated.  Not my thing.  It almost seems as if some people think you can't reconcile masculinity with anything remotely touching on beauty or gentleness or emotional expression, but if they do, they're wrong... It just seems there's a lot of insecure males in rock and heavy metal who like to present a tough front, and who posture in ways that look ridiculous to me.

I could also get into some weird, and tasteless, things some female performers do, and maybe one day I will, but right now I'd like to return to Maybe Someday.  Let's look at the lyrics:


No, I won't do it again
I don't want to pretend
If it can't be like before
I've got to let it end
I don't want what I was
I had a change of head
But maybe someday
Yeah, maybe someday

I've got to let it go
And leave it gone
Just walk away
Stop it going on
Get too scared to jump
If I wait too long
But maybe someday

Yeah, I'll see you smile as you call my name
And start to feel and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come again

So tell me someday's come
Tell me someday come again

No I won't do it some more
Doesn't make any sense
If we can't be like it was
I've got to let it rest
I don't want what I did
I had a change of tense
But maybe someday

Yeah, I'll see you smile as you call my name
And start to feel and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come again

If I could do it again, maybe just once more
Think I could make it work like I did it before
If I could try it out, if I could just be sure
That maybe someday is the last time
Yeah, maybe someday is the end
Or maybe someday is when it all stops
Or maybe someday always comes again

I guess all of us have felt an ambivalence about the work we do at some point or another, or even quit things when they turned sour or tepid, so Robert Smith writing a song about ending his band or not, and the processes around that, is very relatable to other work scenarios where you care greatly about the quality of what you are doing, and things are getting in the way of it.  And I really did personally relate to that, because when I first heard this song in 2014, I'd recently gotten out of education after half a lifetime of having some of the best experiences in my life there - because it was getting harder and harder to do the same quality work, and have the same magic moments, without running into bureaucracy or having to sacrifice increasing amounts of your personal life to do it.

On the bureaucracy side, there was increasing interference with the way you could teach in a classroom - for example, when I started out, two out of four Science sessions a week were practical and hands-on for a class, and increasingly, the bureaucracy was making that harder for us, by allocating less funding to science equipment in favour of (unnecessary and annoying and really un-educational) IT in the classroom, and by banning certain types of experiment / demonstration for alleged "health and safety" reasons - like the banning of the super-popular sodium / potassium metal demonstrations (mini-fireworks when the teacher drops small amounts of metal into a basin of water - and indeed, that's the basis of fireworks) in some states of Australia, because one irresponsible teacher hadn't kept his eye on his metal containers, and an irresponsible student had stuck a lump of sodium metal in his pocket and ended up with a hole burnt right through him - you really have to be so daft and irresponsible as a teacher for that to happen, and not know how to safely run practical demonstrations - and the skilled majority ought not to be penalised for the act of one incompetent person who ought to have been sacked).

Or, the banning of the cheek smear practical that allowed 12-year-olds to look at their very own cells (always an oooh-aaah experience) - on the basis of what might happen if a student was infected with hepatitis etc and another student took the popstick they'd scraped the inside of their cheek with and for some god-unknown reason started chewing on it - I mean, have you ever seen a student do that?  I haven't, but I saw plenty of students in the playground sharing ice lollies, and they didn't ban that, so where's the sense in this?  It just doesn't exist, it's just ignorant bureaucrats covering their own backsides.  And in this way, towards the end of my years of teaching, I was down to one practical session a week, and disproportionate amounts of textbook learning, and that's not the same.  Student engagement and enjoyment were in this way actively boycotted by bureaucratic decisions beyond my control.

And then there was the experiment with OBE assessment in favour of ABCDF, because the bureaucrats thought that by making a system which didn't have a fail grade, only a "not achieved yet and still working on it", they would somehow change the reality that all of us are bad at something, and need to get over it.  In order to make an assessment and reporting system that candy-coated lack of achievement, they invented a system which was basically like levels on a video game - and life is not a video game.  This system took over four times as long for teachers to administrate, and confused the hell out of students and parents; and undermined student achievement by tying teachers up with unnecessary hours on complicated and wishy-washy assessments, which took time away from creative planning for actual learning activities (not to mention our personal lives - I was doing 60-hour weeks at the end and burning out) - as well as by students and parents actually not knowing where they stood in relation to everyone else.

So yeah, when you're in a position where you keep watching the quality of what you are able to do decline further and further despite throwing increasing amounts of your private, unpaid time at it, and you're watching whole cohorts of students not getting the same opportunities for learning as they did a decade previously, and when you started Australia used to be Top 5 internationally in Science achievement, and then they're not even Top 20 anymore despite the best efforts of Science staff who are increasingly hog-tied by bureaucrats, and when you're teaching English / English Literature classes you're seeing the level of language ability, grammar and spelling erode to further and further lows because the kids aren't learning what they used to in primary school (and because of overuse of IT and devices, both in the classroom, by the say-so of bureaucrats who want clever-looking classroom photos, and outside the classroom, I mean, whatever happened to a hands-on childhood, and the development of the imagination, let alone handwriting and real-world skills, don't get me started...) - well, you do come to a point where you're thinking of quitting, and for years what keeps you there still is that you love the magic that can happen in classrooms anyway.  I was basically forced to quit by burnout, in the end - coupled with viral damage to a vocal cord nerve, which meant I actually couldn't talk for a year - which is why we owner-built our own house etc, and I started homesteading and writing, and the rest is history.

But yes, I could completely relate to the sentiments in Maybe Someday, transposed into my own work situation.  I think Robert Smith should thank his lucky stars, or whatever he thanks, that he doesn't experience quite the degree of interference with his own creative work as a lot of people in salaried employment do.  Yes, I know that record companies suck, and that artists have a right to complain about that, and they totally have my sympathy, and I'm not playing "my pain is greater than yours" - just saying that The Cure have been able to go on producing quality work, and forever improving their live performances, in spite of all of that, and I'm happy for them, and for me, and all the other fans, that this is so.  :)

And as for me, away from bureaucracy (but of course, not all of it, there's layers of it even here), I'm happy with the life I now live, and the new creative and otherwise useful things I am now able to do, and for the past as well and the wonderful things that happened in it, and if there's anyone out there with whom all this has struck chords, all the best to you as well! :cool

Coming Up is next.  ;)
SueC is time travelling


OK, so on to Coming Up, and as this is a song about drug use, there's already been a prelude here:  http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9201.msg770927#msg770927

Before discussing the actual song, I thought it would be nice to rope in all sorts of songs on related themes by various artists, and then finish off with Coming Up, so we've got something to compare it to.  Anyone reading, feel free to post relevant songs as well - I really don't have to be the only person talking.  :angel

I'm going to start with a number that always makes Brett and me laugh when we put this on.  It's by Hugh Laurie, and of course, this is especially hilarious because he played the lead role in House - a brilliant intellect with drug issues and, ahem, impaired empathy, which made him say many things that were completely outrageous, but often very funny regardless.

It's off an album of his called Didn't It Rain, which we really enjoy - he's very good, as is his band.  It's basically blues, with a bit of a twist, and great for a weekend morning.  Obviously, not all songs on it are about drug use.  :rofl

Next, three songs all called Cocaine.  We'll start with an irreverent number by Australian band The Cruel Sea, in keeping with the above song.

This one, by Eric Clapton, pretty much everyone will know:

Jackson Browne did a more thoughtful number:

From one classic to another:

So, I can have a good laugh at the first two songs, can take or leave the Clapton tune, but love the last two songs here, because at the end of the day, without thoughtfulness, there's going to be a heck of a lot of heartache.

Here's another classic, which I appreciate very much musically:

This one's cryptic, and someone in the band joked, when in Australia, that it was really about Vegemite.  :rofl   However, one of the funniest things that ever happened to me was this song coming up on random play on my iPod just as I was emptying the cartridge of our compost toilet into our hot compost bin.  Entirely new way to think about it!  :-D

Here's a great little recent interview with Hugh Cornwell, on this song and a bit of historical context:

Next, I've got a suggestion from Brett - a favourite song of his, a Johnny Cash cover of a NIN song. Really great lyrics, and all credit to the writer, but Brett says Johnny Cash was singing this when he was dying, and did it so well that he now owns this song...

A late addition that was just brought to my attention:

More to come, but later! Feel free to jump in with your own tracks on the topic.
SueC is time travelling


Well I recently listened to "Coming Up" (and "Posession", btw), not very impressed and I'm kinda glad they didn't make the whole album like these two (as was the plan at first).

And a quick remark or two: Hasn't Jet Black said he thought "Golden Brown" was about toast?
"Cocaine" is not really a Clapton tune, but a cover (written by JJ Cale).
Here they performed it together:
Theorize and talk yourself
Until you're tired and old


Thank you, @Ulrich, re the songwriting details :cool - and that version sounds slightly less... anaesthetised!  ;)  Oh the irony...

Toast? :lol:  Not nearly as resplendent a golden brown as the contents of a compost toilet. :winking_tongue

Maybe it was really about maple syrup...  Brett, as a young lad, thought it was about a very suntanned girl...  :angel

We in Australia got Coming Up as part of Bloodflowers, and it didn't stick out like a sore thumb musically because there was a bit of diversity there anyway.  I think Possession would have been a musical mismatch on the album, but I'm glad they put it out there as a B-side, I do think it's an excellent song lyrically, and with those lyrics I think you can just about get away with anything musically, as long as it suits those lyrics.  But yes, I'm glad they made Bloodflowers after something of a u-turn; I can't imagine I'd have liked ten songs in the musical style of Possession half as much.  As it is though, I'd give both the album and that song 10/10.  :)
SueC is time travelling


A few more songs on the general theme:

This was off U2's The Joshua Tree.  I love the imagery in this one - the lyrics are very well written.

A couple by Pink Floyd:

With this particular song, it always strikes me that it's also a really good fit for the way propaganda and materialism basically drug a large section of our own society.

The next one is often read as a song about a recreational drug experience, but actually came about because Dave Gilmour was taking flying lessons to become a pilot.  It surprises a few people that real-life experiences not involving drugs can also be mind-blowing - and this is why some people working in drug rehabilitation take young people mountain climbing.  I recently heard a podcast where the response of a young lad coming off ice addiction was related - when he got to the summit of the climb he was taken on, he stood there and told his companion, "Wow - I had no idea you could feel like this naturally!"

That's not how you scythe, by the way - although it's great to see it portrayed. ;)

Who has noticed that all the songs I've posted so far are by male artists?  My CD shelf is brimming with female artists, but not a single song of theirs comes to mind that's on this topic.  So just for fun, I am including this one, because it was the nearest thing I could find:

And then there's this one, which you can read any way you like.  Karen O sings beautifully even with a cold, and this was the closest equivalent I could find on YT to the acoustic version of this on my iPod, which is gorgeous...

More to follow - and again, a general invitation for others to post songs on the general topic!  :)
SueC is time travelling


So, having looked at a selection of songs about the use of the so-called recreational drugs, which covered various angles, I'm just going to pull up the lyrics of Coming Up, and do a little annotating.  Just in preamble though, this particular song is written from the perspective of a drug user and is mostly about the actual experience, but I think also gets into motivations and addiction.  It's interesting that the drug has been personified, and even given a gender, with the effect that the relationship with the drug is being described in terms of a relationship with a woman.  That kind of personification is commonly used; just think about boats for a minute - it's always a "she" and sometimes the way sailors come across talking about their boats is like it's a substitute relationship with a female for them.

Roaming further afield, there's the idea of the female as temptress, like Eve in Eden, and then Adam attempting to use the Nuremberg defense before it was a thing - "I was only following orders!" If you do a feminist reading of this whole idea, then basically you're going to arrive at a cultural tendency to scapegoat females in order not to take full responsibility for your own actions (and of course, adults should be taking responsibility for their own actions).  And, if you see your drug as a sort of woman tempting you, then it becomes easy to miss the point that this is something you are actually doing to yourself - and also the whole thing takes on an aura of poetry and mysticism, when it's really biochemistry and psychology.

Of course, even though all of this becomes a consideration when you're looking at Coming Up, this doesn't mean that it's invalid to use that kind of analogy.  Analogies are great for exploring subjects; we just have to keep in mind that our two subjects will have points of overlap as well as points of difference. There's many ways that the moon is a ghostly galleon, but also many ways it isn't.


Yeah, it's a snow white original mix
And she's fixing me
And the heartless thing she does is everything I love
It's all I ever need

Those last two lines, were you to use them about your significant other, would indicate a really dysfunctional relationship; and to describe a drug in this way also indicates that dysfunction is in the driver's seat here.  It's interesting, isn't it, how people's emotional baggage seems to be at the root of both drug addiction and dysfunctional relationships; and it's sad that people can feel like the things that are destroying them are things they love and need - instead of being able to love and need things that are constructive and beneficial.

Yeah, it's a skin tight sensational strip
And she's tripping me
And the shameless way she turns
Is all I ever dream

The double meanings here reinforce what I said above...

You ask me why I use it
It could be just a way to pass the time
I never really choose it
It's just another play to lose
My mind

There seems to be a lack of insight here, as well as an abdication of personal responsibility.  There's such a world of difference between "it just happened" and "I did it" - and yeah, on some level, we are making choices about things like this, although of course once you veer into addiction, it becomes much harder to make constructive choices and people act more and more out of compulsion, at least until some kind of circuit-breaker is introduced.

Yeah, it's a bright light promotional taste
And she's wasting me
And the tearless time she breaks is everytime I ache
It's all I ever feel

You ask me why I need it
It's maybe just a way to pass the time
I never really mean it
It's just another play to lose
My mind

Yeah, it's a big night emotional kill
And she's thrilling me
And the careless way she hurts
Is all I ever scream

You ask me why I take it
It could be just a way to pass the time
I never really make it
It's just another play to lose

It's interesting that "my mind" has been left off here, and we're perhaps getting closer to a more significant reason.  It kind of reminds me of the lines from another song (not The Cure), Every gambler knows that to lose is what you're really there for; and also that famous quote that goes, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?...Your playing small does not serve the world...(etc)

I'm coming up in the dark
And every part of me is bruised, and raw, and pained
I'm coming up in the dark
And every part of me is loose, and sore, and stained
And so I play it when I use it
If I need it, then I take it and I play it all again
And then I hold you
So cold you
Like I know you
Yeah, like I always know and like I always lose
My mind

That "Then I hold you" line is interesting, because it's not quite clear if that's just an extension of the analogy, or if this is now referring to holding an actual person, who is cold, perhaps (conjecturing) because that relationship is also dysfunctional, or because the partner is fed up with dealing with the protagonist's addiction etc.

I've taken those lyrics from genius.com, which also has the following citation from Robert Smith:  "When we started Bloodflowers in Christmas 1998, we wanted hard electro pop and did a handful of tracks, including Coming Up and Possession, that used loops and synth bass. We sat around taking various kinds of drugs, thinking, 'This is the future!' Suddenly in 1999, I had a road to Damascus moment. I thought, 'This is f*cking awful, this isn't The Cure.' I wrote Out Of This World and decided, 'This is what I want to do', because that song had more emotion than the six tracks we'd recorded up until that point. So we binned the other stuff – it's hard to kill six songs, because you're halfway there, but it was a decision that had to be made. The others thought I'd lost it, but coming back I proved them wrong!"

Interestingly, I've read other comments by the author which give a slightly different take; e.g. where he thinks Possession was a really good song.  I don't think Robert Smith is always a reliable witness - and few of us probably are, and we're liable to change our minds and our moods.  So, sometimes quite contradictory things are said.

If anyone wants to add to this, or chime into the discussion, go for it!  I'll be dealing with one more "new" song and two more remixes, soonish.

SueC is time travelling