Exploring the Back Catalogue

Started by SueC, January 26, 2020, 02:58:00

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 12 Guests are viewing this topic.

SueC

I've been procrastinating looking at more lyrics from The Head On The Door but here goes - the music was already discussed separately before and the lyrics of the first track the post after that.  The second track:

KYOTO SONG

A nightmare of you
Of death in the pool
Wakes me up at quarter to three
I'm lying on the floor of the night before
With a stranger lying next to me

A nightmare of you
Of death in the pool...
I see no further now than this dream
The trembling hand of the trembling man
Hold my mouth
To hold in a scream

I try to think
To make it slow
If only here
Is where I go
If this is real
I have to see
I turn on fire
And next to me...
It looks good!
It tastes like nothing on earth
It looks good!
It tastes like nothing on earth
It's so smooth!
It even feels like skin

It tells me how it feels to be new

It tells me how it feels to be new
A thousand voices whisper it true
It tells me how it feels to be new
And every voice belongs
Every voice belongs to you



So here's something of a choose-your-own-adventure story - what if anything the writer particularly intended this to be about (if it was even supposed to be about something specific) is unclear, although in interviews Robert Smith apparently said that the song was partically inspired by a nightmare of his wife drowning.  From that starting point, one of the happiest interpretations of the rest of the song is the narrator waking up, realising it's a nightmare, finding his beloved alive and in fact next to him (the floor of the night before could be falling asleep on a rug in front of a fireplace - it doesn't have to be a post-intoxication scenario, but of course it could be), and seeing and appreciating her afresh, as we often will when we feared something was lost but then mercifully find it still with us.  It's one thing that can shock you out of taking someone you love for granted even slightly - like taking their continued existence for granted, which is usually our working hypothesis in day-to-day life, if we're not always aware of our own mortality.

The one thing that seems to contraindicate the above interpretation is that the person lying next to the narrator is "a stranger" - although of course there's several ways you could make that still fit, like the common scenario of not instantly recognising your surroundings when you wake up from a nightmare, or reflecting that there are things we don't know even about people we think we know really well.

Or maybe it is literally a stranger - maybe it's a casual fling on the side, or maybe someone (else) substance intoxicated (from the night before) - search me.  If it's the former, then maybe it's a song about an open relationship, with each others' blessing - and that then affects how you read It tells me how it feels to be new / A thousand voices whisper it true / It tells me how it feels to be new / And every voice belongs / Every voice belongs to you.  (And I can't in my own head make that sufficiently fit any other kind of actual stranger, but if you can, pipe up please.)

Other people have mooted that it's about cannibalism, or about a girlfriend who drowned in a pool being replaced by a sex doll in the aftermath of the bereaved narrator's life.  One of the more interesting interpretations I saw on the Internet was this:

QuoteThis song is about hedonism and even self-destructiveness and avoiding dealing with your fears. It's written in a surreal way, but he's basically grasping at things that give him pleasant sensations, and trying to block out unpleasant things. The first verse shows that these unpleasant thoughts creep in through his dreams, and they scare him and leave him trembling. Ultimately, he cannot get past these fears, as he is avoiding them when awake by focusing on physical pleasures. So it ends up being that his real life is like a dream, but his dreams show the reality of his life.
from https://songmeanings.com/songs/view/7545/

This particular interpretation would tie in with what's been said about this particular studio album being a "drug-free album" (see https://genius.com/albums/The-cure/The-head-on-the-door) - which would then perhaps offer a bit of hindsight about the kind of stuff discussed in the quote above.

As I said, choose your own adventure with this one.  I do think the allusions to the voices are very spookily effective, whichever way you choose to read this one.

In the course of looking for background to this album, I found several interesting links on the Genius website above which others may enjoy reading -  extracts of interviews with various band members on these matters, from 1986, 1992, 1993 and 2000 respectively:

http://www.musicfanclubs.org/cure/press/I102.html
http://www.musicfanclubs.org/cure/press/I10.html
http://www.musicfanclubs.org/cure/press/A11.html
http://www.musicfanclubs.org/cure/press/medicine.html

Enjoy. ;)

SueC is time travelling

SueC

THE BLOOD

Tell me who doesn't love
What can never come back
You can never forget how it used to feel
The illusion is deep
It's as deep as the night
I can tell by your tears you remember it all
I am paralyzed by the blood of Christ
Though it clouds my eyes
I can never stop

How it feels to be dry
Walking bare in the sun
Every mirage I see is a mirage of you
As I cool in the twilight
Taste the salt on my skin
I recall all the tears
All the broken words

I am paralyzed by the blood of Christ
Though it clouds my eyes
I can never stop

When the sunsets glow drifts away from you
You'll no longer know
If any of this was really true at all



If it seems a bit weird to have an atheist writing about the blood of Christ, consider this: 

Quote from: undefinedIn a fanzine, Robert Smith said "The Blood" was written about "a Portuguese drink called 'The Tears Of Christ'. I drank a bottle and this came out."

When he was asked if he was aware that in America, The Cure were being labeled Satanic because the lyrics to "The Blood" were supposedly being sung to the Devil, Smith responded: "I believe in neither the Devil or God, so it's bollocks!"
from https://genius.com/The-cure-the-blood-lyrics

On the first point, an aside:  Why is there this public misconception about "drugs and alcohol" when the latter is a subset of the former?  It's like when people talk about "birds and animals" grrr.  It's so untidy when people get categories confused like this.  (End taxonomic rant.  :P  If this makes no sense to you, read the previous post...)

On the second point: Typical American reaction, and preoccupation. :1f635:  They're so holy that more than 40% of them still think it's a good idea for a misogynistic, white supremacist, cheating, lying, intellectually vacuous, completely vile narcissist to run their country.   :1f635:  :1f631:   Just as long as he makes abortion illegal, they'd vote for the devil himself.  And isn't it funny how a human embryo is sacred, but a homeless person isn't - they deserve what they get, apparently.   :evil:


I well remember in the 1980s the preoccupation various religious nitwits had with "subliminal programming" in music.  "If you run the tape backwards it says to worship Baal!"  (Big deal.)  One of my classmates back then wouldn't do the music project for English because he didn't want to be contaminated... he refused to listen to any popular music for that reason and would go to the library while the rest of the class got on with their presentations.  His father read his books for him and put paper clips on the "bad" sections so he wouldn't have to see them.  (When I asked how come his father could do that, he said his father didn't believe in God and was going to hell anyway.   :1f632:)

But I digress.  Back to the lyrics, which leave me somewhat underwhelmed.  I had a housemate once in sunny London who drank herself under the table solo every Friday night if the other girls had gone out without her before she got home.  I was home Friday nights, since I was on a working holiday and that was my time slot for recording notes about architecture, visits to museums and art galleries, general impressions etc into my journal - my treat after a week of toil.  :P  (Hey @Ulrich, one such Friday night Mike Scott was on the radio, chatting about the music he was making!  :cool)

Anyway, I'd a thousand times rather spend my Friday nights like that, than go out to drink myself legless, shag strangers, and be hung over half the weekend.  I had other hobbies.  But I would keep my housemate and her inevitable bottle of wine company for a while if the others had gone out without her.  I'd have half a glass to be sociable, and observe the same pattern every such Friday:  Progressive variations in mood as the level of the bottle went down.  After the first glass, she became more chatty, and subsequent glasses would describe a trajectory from happy and laughing to maudlin and despondent, and then, when the bottle was empty, she would pass out, and I'd get her quilt from upstairs and wrap her in it because I worried she might expire from hypothermia after the central heating went off at midnight.

So after that bottle of the Tears of Christ, had our writer reached the maudlin stage, by any chance?  Just wondering.  The tone sort of matches.  It's not badly written, it's just a bit like my ex-housemate used to be after three or four glasses of wine.  There is this inevitability about it, to me - but that's just how it strikes me.  I've got a fair bit of Italian DNA and never understood why it is that a fair few English background people don't seem to enter into emotions very much until they're somewhat intoxicated...but then it can become kind of predictable.  Personally I can't walk in a straight line after half a glass of wine, but at that level my moods aren't affected, while my Anglo husband gets all giggly and expansive after one standard drink - which I can't have because I'd just fall over on the spot - I've got a lot of super-sensitive reactions to various chemicals, including alcohol, paracetamol (both just make me keel over), artificial fragrances (instant headaches and nausea), polyester (skin rashes, can't wear it), something in ripe bananas (blisters my oral lining instantly), etc etc etc.  But some of the moods some people seem to only enter while intoxicated are sort of standard emotional repertoire for me.  I can laugh myself silly without alcohol, ditto weep, get thoughtful and contemplative, or even hit a black hole, etc - and I know other people who are like this too - but maybe we're aliens who got snuck into the hospital cots, who knows.  (Or maybe it's a Mediterranean thing...)

I just found some more information on that wine, by Robert Smith himself:

QuoteIt's a very cheap Portuguese wine, it's a very heavy drink that all the workers drink... it's about 12p a bottle. I was given a bottle of it and I drank it, and I noticed the label, which is the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus under one arm and a bottle in the other hand. It was completely brilliant. [...] I was convinced I was Portuguese, I just sank into this reverie of being a Portuguese flamenco guitarist.
from https://genius.com/The-cure-the-blood-lyrics

I'm still keeping the PMI technique (applied earlier to a playthrough of the whole album) in mind as I'm taking a magnifying glass to the lyrics - it encourages you to look from different angles, to look for positive things but also feel free to raise problems, and things that don't sit quite right with you (and why), and importantly, to endeavour to look more neutrally if you can, so that not everything is "good" or "bad" etc, and just point out some things you notice from that more neutral viewpoint.

From the perspective of lyrics, I don't take naturally to many of the songs on this album - which is very different to how my first listen to Bloodflowers went - those lyrics are far more mature and thoughtful, and I found it easy to relate to most of them personally.  On The Head On The Door I find a number of things irritating, sort of like walking around with little stones in your shoes while trying to enjoy the scenery.  That's why I'm doing PMI instead of just throwing my hands up in the air and getting exasperated (though this may still happen on occasions before I'm done).

So, let's look again, and closely, from the beginning, this time also perhaps imagining how the Dalai Lama might read this piece - bring patience, kindness, and a sympathetic listen to it.  (A good technique if you're switched off for some reason.)

Tell me who doesn't love
What can never come back
You can never forget how it used to feel


...you may never truly know what you have until you lose it, etc - although you can learn to look, reflect, consciously appreciate.

Balanced against this, from a set of lyrics by another band, "You glorify the past when the future dries up" - we can see this at funerals - the exaggeration of the positive aspects of the narrative, the rose-tinted nostalgia.  People are funny critters.  Take something away and it's the most precious thing in the world, even though previously it was perhaps taken for granted - or perhaps it was actually not that great at all...  The grass is greener on the side of the fence we can't get to, and so on.

The illusion is deep
It's as deep as the night
I can tell by your tears you remember it all
I am paralyzed by the blood of Christ
Though it clouds my eyes
I can never stop

How it feels to be dry
Walking bare in the sun
Every mirage I see is a mirage of you
As I cool in the twilight
Taste the salt on my skin
I recall all the tears
All the broken words

I am paralyzed by the blood of Christ
Though it clouds my eyes
I can never stop

When the sunsets glow drifts away from you
You'll no longer know
If any of this was really true at all


On a simple level, you could just read the blood of Christ as a straight metaphor for alcohol, for what that bottle of wine did to the writer's perspective.  Though it clouds my eyes, I can never stop will then be read with a corresponding slant - ditto How it feels to be dry, and the last stanza.

Or, you could look at the blood of Christ more literally - the narration would also work for a person reflecting on lost faith in a world view they were raised with.  I've listened to a fair few podcasts of people telling stories about that, and the deep grief many of them have at the loss of what they now see as just fairytales - the sadness that there is no loving higher being, no justice or consolation in the long run, no ultimate happy ending for someone who died abused and unhappy, no ever-expanding opportunities for learning and growing, you'll never see those who died again, you'll never read even half the books you want to, or get good at more than a small fraction of the things you'd love to learn.  (But don't let that stuff make you give up! ♥)

You could layer things further, and see one of those scenarios being described in terms of the other, with deliberate parallels.

Or, it could be about something else, like a situation specific to the narrator, sketched in terms that also work for other scenarios.  I'm not going to speculate further, and if you want a cross-section of what other people are thinking, there's stuff here and other places online.  One thoughtful take from there:

QuoteThis might be a good example of why artists shouldn't answer questions about what a song, or line, is about. They often explain the inspiration for the song, but rarely ramble on about what the song means. Sure, "the blood of Christ" line was inspired by a drink called "The Tears of Christ". This doesn't necessarily mean that the lyrics are just the random, meaningless thoughts of Robert Smith when he was drunk. It belittles the lyrics to claim that.

I can't fit everything together, but there is a lot of interesting stuff here. Obviously, the chorus can be taken in a religious sense. A Christian realizes that he has been blinded by his own religion, but knows that he can't give it up. On the same note, the verse including "walking bare in the sun" seems reminiscent of Christ spending forty days and nights in the desert and being tempted by Satan.

Can you really attribute the first verse to simply drinking wine? It is really great stuff. This verse could be about how we look at distant relationships through rose-colored glasses. Like how a child of divorced parents will "hate" the custodial parent, but think that the distant parent is great, even though they never see them. In this case, there was apparently a break-up, but he still has the illusion that everything was great. He is blinded to the truth but can't help it. However he later "recalls all the tears" and "broken words". This brings into question the narrator's very concept of reality: "You'll no longer know if any of this was really true at all..."

These are just my ideas. Songs like this are great because they are so open to personal interpretation by the listener. I wish there was more of that on this website.

And just as a closing aside, if you'd like to read a novel written from the point of view of a bottle of wine (and I've only ever come across one), may I recommend the rather charming Blackberry Wine, by Joanne Harris (the UK version, not the re-written US version!).  :cool

PS:  Spending time with this song really helped me appreciate it better, but I know I'm going to get exasperated with the next song.
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on October 15, 2020, 08:28:50One of the more interesting interpretations I saw on the Internet was this...

Well I said before I normally do not look up "song meanings" on the internet. Robert Smith is a lucky man for being not dead yet, otherwise he'd be turning in his grave upon some of those...  :P
A day without substance, a change of thought
The atmosphere rots with time

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on October 15, 2020, 16:38:16
Quote from: SueC on October 15, 2020, 08:28:50One of the more interesting interpretations I saw on the Internet was this...

Well I said before I normally do not look up "song meanings" on the internet.

Bwahahaha!  :beaming-face  I don't normally do that either (and never before I have a think about it myself first, so as not to be "led" etc), and you're right, about half the song interpretations on the Internet are total shockers - and the more dodgy the interpretation, the more adamant the proponents often are about the one and only truth of their take (Dunning-Kruger Effect again.)  I've seen The Loudest Sound fervently interpreted as depicting a wovely-dovely warm fuzzy "perfect" romantic relationship - OMG.   :1f631:

But with the Head On The Door lyrics, I'm finding it quite entertaining, and at times even educational, to look up other people's takes after exhausting my own hypotheses.  I'm clearly not on whatever The Cure are variously on, but some people out there are, so that can be helpful.  :angel  :winking_tongue

Since I'm already blaspheming, I might as well go to town on it, and paint you a little picture of our morning scenario here in our little hidden corner of the Antipodes.  The sunlight was starting to angle through the east windows, and I asked Brett sotto voce if he wanted a cup of tea, since he was beginning to make feeble sounds and twitch a little.  He looked at the alarm clock (he always does that in the morning, when asked if he wants a cup of tea - doesn't consult his own body, but interrogates a piece of technology), groaned, and mumbled he was "still submerged in murky waters"...  so I said to him, "Quick, write a Cure song!"   :angel  He replied, "I'll have to remember to include something ambiguous about who I'm sleeping with!"  :lol:


Quote from: undefinedRobert Smith is a lucky man for being not dead yet, otherwise he'd be turning in his grave upon some of those...  :P

Yeah, did you like the one about the bereaved widower and the sex doll?  I thought that was a touch of genius.   :kissing_closed_eyes:  That one got my literary award for the day.  :smth023

He's a lucky man for not being dead yet, for all sorts of reasons I think; plus, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming album.  :)

Dead people can only turn over in their grave at things like this.  Living people are potentially way more entertaining.   :angel
SueC is time travelling

SueC

SIX DIFFERENT WAYS

This is stranger than I thought
Six different ways inside my heart
And every one I'll keep tonight
Six different ways go deep inside

I'll tell them anything at all
I know I'll give them more and more

I'll tell them anything at all
I know I'll give the world and more
They think I'm on my hands and head
This time they're much too slow

Six sides to every lie I say
It's that American voice again
"It was never quite like this before
Not one of you is the same"
Doo doo doo doo

This is stranger than I thought
Six different ways inside my heart
And everyone I'll keep tonight
Six different ways go deep inside

I'll tell them anything at all
I know I'll give the world and more
They think I'm on my hands and head
This time they're much too slow

Six sides to every lie I say
It's that American voice again
"It was never quite like this before
Not one of you is the same"



There's obviously different ways to read this - but sadly it just happens to fit "The Happy Two-Timer" to a T (though in this case it would be a six-timer).  The "girl in every port" guys do exist, as do bigamists, trigamists etc.  I don't personally much enjoy songs sung in a playschool voice, and even less so if a song is readable as, "Hey, look what I'm getting away with!"  ...and that's whether or not that was intended that way.  There's too much male entitlement around for that to be funny for a lot of women - and I might add, I'm sure a lot of men wouldn't enjoy the idea of being one of a secret harem either, when they imagine they're in a dedicated relationship.

The thing that I find so deeply objectionable in such cases is the deception, the dishonesty, the treating of other people's hearts with carelessness and disdain.  And if I hear someone boasting about something like this, I want to vomit, preferably on them.  :evil:

Let's make two things completely clear, so there's no misunderstandings:

1. I don't care if people want to sleep with multiple other people, sequentially or in parallel or even at the same time, so long as there is complete honesty about this, and everyone is able to give (or withhold) properly informed consent.  What I object to is deception and treating other people with utter contempt.

2. This is not the only way this song can be read, but it does bother me that it can - that it can be turned into a narcissist's jingle, can be used in such a way.  And because it can be read like this, it will inevitably remind some people of real-life examples of entitled posterior orifices they've met along their road in life.  People have a right, of course, to write such a song - but people in the audience also have a right to really dislike it.

I was in high school in the 80s, an era which spawned arguably the biggest me-generation that's ever existed.  Take take take, all that you can get, by hook or by crook, became this mantra.  A friend of mine fell in love with the (alleged) dreamboat of our school year - a Tom Cruise lookalike (never my type :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:) with superficial charm and a massive sense of entitlement, who also wasn't kept awake at night by ethical questions.  I didn't like the way this boy, and his friends, talked about the girls - like they were merchandise, like they were disposable, like they were objects and not people, like they existed for their personal benefit - nor did I like their frequent boasting about their sexual conquests, which could be overheard quite a few times, because they also didn't keep their voices down.

I still to this day don't know how she fell in love with him - he was so obvious - but no, to her he could do no wrong, he didn't say things like that, we were making it up, perhaps we were jealous because he was interested in her and not us, etc.  - My friend was stereotypically beautiful in that slim, blonde 80s model style, and had a fair bit of interest from the males of our year, but to choose the worst - what, because he was stereotypically good-looking?  Because he told her what she wanted to hear?

She was happy to believe the lies he told her.  He charmed her, she believed he really loved her, and eventually she had sex with him.  He trumpeted it all around the playground; his attitude disgusted me.  And then he dropped her, and was onto the next conquest, while she spent months mortified and her grades took a dive. 

This was the first time I saw that kind of scenario close-up.  That was pretty common behaviour, and still is, in our generation - that kind of sexual predation and dishonest game-playing.  Some people actually have a heart; they're not your disposable vagina, your score, your "pussy" - but it seems to me that for some people, the breaking of an actual heart and the mortification of another person when they realise they were had all along is a bonus enjoyment, and the icing on the cake of their sexual exploits, and another feather in the cap of their hideous take on masculinity.  (Which is not to say there's not female predators as well; I'm just telling you what I've personally seen - and I'm asking you honestly if you can think of any female equivalent of Trump in that category - and if anyone would vote for a woman like this, in droves like they vote for that specimen.)

And others playing these kinds of games may not derive pleasure from other people's pain and mortification - they just may not care, so long as they get what they want.  Which is how the narrator to Six Different Ways sounds, if you read it that way - blithe, who-cares, I'll lie to get what I want - "I'll tell them anything at all" - and perhaps as a rationalisation, "I know I'll give the world and more" - as if that would justify the deception.  And as if one of him is worth six of them.


If you look it up, Robert Smith has said that this song is about multiple personalities - and that it came from a facetious argument about how many ways there are to skin a cat.  It's also been mooted that this song is about lying to journalists in response to being asked idiotic questions.  But whichever way I try to listen to it, and even if it couldn't be read as a song about playing half a dozen romantic interests along, I still can't make friends with the flippancy which which reference is made to the deliberate deception of others, in whatever context.

And that's why it's a good thing that there are plenty of songs that can be listened to, by this band and by many others, which don't create this acrid taste in my mouth when I have a close listen to the lyrics.

PS:  Other ways of reading it here - some of them quite interesting, whether or not you agree.  The nicest possible interpretation I found - and I can actually see how it would fit - is that it's about adopting a number of different stage personas which espouse different viewpoints etc not actually held by the performer.  And that's the slant with which I'm going to listen to it from now on, and perhaps that will exorcise the ghosts and the acrid taste for me.
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on October 16, 2020, 09:44:23There's obviously different ways to read this - but sadly it just happens to fit "The Happy Two-Timer" to a T (though in this case it would be a six-timer).

You seem a tad obsessed with this possibility to interpret any lyrics? Threesomes, two-timers keep appearing in your posts on a regular basis - any reasons why? (Bad experience in the past?)

To me it's kinda off-putting and one reason why I won't read the most of these "explorations" any more. (Same as with the "meanings" on the net.)

Robert Smith himself had this to say (from the book "Ten Imaginary Years", page 86):
"The words are about the way I treat people. The six is not that important - it could've been five."
A day without substance, a change of thought
The atmosphere rots with time

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on October 16, 2020, 11:07:28
Quote from: SueC on October 16, 2020, 09:44:23There's obviously different ways to read this - but sadly it just happens to fit "The Happy Two-Timer" to a T (though in this case it would be a six-timer).

You seem a tad obsessed with this possibility to interpret any lyrics? Threesomes, two-timers keep appearing in your posts on a regular basis - any reasons why? (Bad experience in the past?)

Reasons always in posts - including here (so read it again, carefully).  And as has been mentioned before, another time when this came up - your lived experience, as well as your vicarious experience (like what I related about my friend), always comes to the party when you encounter any text.  I think another female CF member tried to explain to you last time you got annoyed that this kind of thing goes deep; you're not female and you've not lived this side of it, the same as I'm not black and have not lived that side of it - so I try to listen, and walk a mile in the shoes of someone who has had very different life experiences as those that are afforded to the more privileged groups of people in society, and whose traumatic experiences perhaps differ from my own.  Which is why I clapped when the slave-trader statue was thrown in the harbour - because I could see the pain it had caused others, even though I could have walked by unawares before.

I've not suggested that a Cure song ought to be thrown in the harbour, by the way - not even this one - which if you actually read to the last paragraph in the post that riled you, I've found another way to listen to already, which I'm giving a shot.  But if I did find a Cure song, or any other song, that was undoubtedly intended as offensive, or was just terribly thoughtless and hurtful, I would throw it in the harbour.  It wouldn't mean I'd throw the whole catalogue in the harbour either, or the band - since we're all chimeras, and works in progress.

And just in general - there's a difference between not listening to a song because you don't enjoy it for various reasons which may or may not include ghosts conjured for you, and throwing it into the harbour.  And had the "Happy Two-Timer" been the only possible interpretation, or the avowed interpretation by the artist, then I would have thrown it in the harbour, for sure.  But as was clear from my last post, that was not the case.

When you open-journal, you record your honest responses to things in this world, including any initial reactions which may then evolve with more reflection, or other people's input (and I take care to record all my gut reactions here, however they may turn out).  But it's a two-way street - people can learn in both directions.

Also, it's OK to fall over sometimes - you just have to get up again - and it's OK to make honest mistakes, as long as you keep trying to learn from those.

Our greatest learning doesn't happen when we agree with others - it comes when there is friction, and we then have to learn to get past that friction somehow (usually by trying to look from different angles and listen to other perspectives, but also by holding your ground when necessary).  When you teach professionally, you actually try to create cognitive dissonance when presenting new material, because it causes puzzlement and mental engagement, and is an effective way to unlearn misconceptions.

The Cure are particularly good at creating cognitive dissonance in me with their lyrics, which actually makes them more valuable for me to listen to than artists with whom I can agree easily and who present no difficulties for me.  That's why I'm finding that I'm learning lots from journalling about their material - even if, and actually I think because, it requires me to deal with things with which I am really uncomfortable.  Of course, there's also common ground, and it's actually because of common ground with others that we'll consider perspectives we otherwise perhaps wouldn't.

Nobody is obliged to read this stuff, and if you don't get something out of it, then don't.  That's OK.  :)
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Maybe it's just a misconception of mine, but it seemed to become an obsession. (And sadly we've had this before in the forum when members went on and on about one thing...)

Quote from: SueC on October 16, 2020, 12:40:58Nobody is obliged to read this stuff, and if you don't get something out of it, then don't. 

Ok, but could we re-title it "Exploding the back-catalogue"?  :winking_tongue
A day without substance, a change of thought
The atmosphere rots with time

SueC

No we can't. :winking_tongue  Because I'm not - because if I thought this stuff was worthless, I'd have given up a long time ago.  The one thing that does on occasions feel like it's exploding is my head.  :-D

And I do genuinely like the majority of the material, and even the stuff I don't take to straightaway I usually give another shot, for the same reason I ate sashimi for the first time (because I respected the person who prepared it, on prior evidence).  Some stuff that challenges me at first, I end up genuinely liking, and some I never take to, but I think that's OK.

Perhaps you shouldn't read my reactions to one of your favourite albums.  ;)  I'm OK with the fact that you don't like Hugh Laurie's music, and that John Farnham makes you gag.  People just have different tastes, when it comes to music.

But the examination of lyrics can become a real powderkeg - because that's when it gets personal, for most of us.  Because then it becomes about more than musical tastes; then it becomes about values and opinions and ways of looking at things, and this can really take us out of our comfort zones.  And texts are very much open to misinterpretation, particularly if things are a bit vague.

I think the red-flag thing about betrayal of trust is there for me automatically because I needed very much to acquire the ability to detect it, in order to prevent train wrecks in my own life (and not just romantic ones either).  When I was younger, I was duped a fair bit, and had to learn to notice the red flags to keep me out of trouble - I trusted people way too much, wasn't cautious enough.  Think of it as a metaphorical lion detector - from a survival perspective, it's much better for something like that to be overly active and give you false positives, than for it to give you just one false negative.  Better to jump at a hundred kangaroos in the bushes, than not to jump just once at a real lion looking for lunch.

I think I go through a lot of texts about relationships with a fine-tooth comb, looking for the potential BS - and it's a good virtual exercise in developing BS detection skills.  There actually is a lot of BS in what humans write about the subject - myself inevitably included.  If we grew mushrooms on all that BS, it would become the most abundant food in the universe.

One real point of contention for me is how men in positions of power treat women - well or otherwise, and unfortunately it's often otherwise, as you've seen from the me-too thing etc.  And also, really how anyone in a position of power treats anyone else - well or otherwise.  At the same time, of course we can't tar everyone with the same brush, etc.  But I have seen a lot of abuse of power that's harmed other people, and that's harmed me directly too - from males as well as females, actually.  And I'm sure that regardless of gender, a lot of people have had crap experiences with others, romantically and otherwise.

Anyway, I can get hypervigilant around things like this, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  The side-effect is a very fine focus for a lot of things, which can be really useful.

And please note, you do not ever have to read any of my open journalling ever again.  You don't have to go digging around in my lengthy reflections about navels and the cosmos to be my friend (but you do have to treat me with respect!).  And you certainly couldn't get through all the journalling I've ever done in my life unless you had several years with nothing else to do.  Plus, I think we all have to be really choosy about our reading material, or we'll never get through the book piles on our bedside tables!  :)
SueC is time travelling

word_on_a_wing

Sue I was struck by something you said here...
"The Cure are particularly good at creating cognitive dissonance in me with their lyrics ...it requires me to deal with things with which I am really uncomfortable."

I actually wonder if that's the purpose, that perhaps RS is inviting the audience to think for themselves, feel discomfort and uncertainty (including any ghosts hiding in internal cupboards), and in doing so get closer to waking up.
What I'm saying is perhaps it's not that necessarily believes the things he shares.
Like if someone was to say "Be kind to one another" and another was to say "put your own needs first and screw the needs of anyone else" ...they both may lead to the audience considering similar themes, and coming to consider where they stand on it.

I think others may write lyrics in this way too, and was struck by these Lyrics by David Bowie in his final song on his final album:
"Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That's the message that I sent

I can't give everything away"
"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."

Ulrich

In my humble opinion, whe should say "good-bye" to the notion that each and every songwriter just writes about his own (private or public) life, fantasies and thoughts.
Many have admitted that their own life was just too boring to fill album after album with songs about it! So they turned to writing about "characters", just like a book author would do.

Robert Smith has often used literature as "inspiration". ("Charlotte Sometimes" being a prime example, also "Treasure" was based on a poem with very similar wording.)

Personally, I believe the Cure often intended to create a mood (e.g. on "Faith" or on "Disintegration") and Robert's lyrics were part of that particular mood.
(How many songs has he written about ending a relationship? Even though it is well known that he has been together with Mary since they were teenagers...)

Let's face it: The Cure were never the band to tell us about the environment or who to vote for. They were out to entertain us, to create art, something beautiful to listen to and not to tell us what to do or not to do.

(That might be different with other artists, I mean: Sting was a teacher, wasn't he?  :P )

Quote from: word_on_a_wing on October 17, 2020, 10:46:38I actually wonder if that's the purpose

To create cognitive dissonance? I doubt it.  ;)

Quote from: word_on_a_wing on October 17, 2020, 10:46:38... perhaps RS is inviting the audience to think for themselves

Seeing Robert has always tried to be an "independent" artist (e.g. they signed to Fiction instead of Polydor, who Chris Parry worked for at the time), I would hope so!  :smth023

Quote from: word_on_a_wing on October 17, 2020, 10:46:38I think others may write lyrics in this way too, and was struck by these Lyrics by David Bowie ...

Maybe this changed over the years, but Bowie said he didn't write about what went on in his life - he was always impressed by the people who were able to do it, but he just couldn't.

Also, he had been using this method:
Quote from: undefined...a 2008 interview with Bowie. In it he described how he often comes up with interesting lyric lines by employing the 'cut-up' writing technique used by postmodernist author William S. Burroughs in his controversial novel Naked Lunch.

'Cut-up' is a literary technique designed to add an element of chance to the creative process.
It involves taking a finished line of text and cutting it into pieces—usually with just one or two words on each piece. The resulting pieces are then rearranged to create a brand new text.

David Bowie explained: "You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects, creating a kind of 'story ingredients' list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix 'em up and reconnect them.
"You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this," he said. "You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections."
https://thehitformula.com/2013/04/30/songwriting-tips-try-david-bowies-cut-up-method-of-writing-lyrics/

Thus, trying to make "sense" of such lyrics or trying to find out about Bowie's private life via his lyrics, seems an impossible task to me!

(Doesn't mean he always did it like this.)

QuoteNovelist Rick Moody, who has been privy more than once to details of Bowie's songwriting process, wrote about it in his column on Bowie's 2013 album The Next Day: "David Bowie misdirects autobiographical interpretation, often, by laying claim to reportage and fiction as songwriting methodologies, and he cloaks himself, further, in the cut-up."
http://www.openculture.com/2019/05/how-david-bowie-used-william-s-burroughs-cut-up-method-to-write-his-unforgettable-lyrics.html
A day without substance, a change of thought
The atmosphere rots with time

SueC

Thank you both for your thoughtful posts. :cool  Yes, @word_on_a_wing, I don't see any reason why a songwriter wouldn't at times deliberately try to create cognitive dissonance, since that's such an effective tool for engaging a person's thoughts and feelings, current world view, and life experiences.  Teachers do it, writers do it, so logically songwriters may also have that as part of an effective toolbox.

And as we've discussed here before, the narrator and the writer aren't always the same thing (and when I write I use those terms consciously to distinguish between them) - the narrator can be a character from a book, for example, or be the devil's advocate and espouse completely different ideas and attitudes to those of the writer behind the work - and this can be used to parody ideas and attitudes of which an author is critical, as happened in Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, Bob Geldof's The Great Song Of Indifference, etc.

And yes, @Ulrich, sometimes people write words impressionistically with the primary objective of creating a particular atmosphere.  On one of my favourite 1980s era albums from another artist are several sets of "muddy" lyrics, set in impressionistic music.  I wondered what they were all about, as I do with every song I want to engage with (because I'm very language-driven, as @MAtT pointed out when he compared how he primarily listens to music with how I primarily do that).  I had some ideas, but nothing fitted comfortably - and then teenage me heard an interview with the writer of the lyrics, who said, when asked what one of those songs was about, "I actually don't really know, I'm still discovering things about that when I sing it."  And then he discussed stream-of-consciousness writing.

That postmodern writing technique you mention is also a thing, but I've generally not enjoyed the products of that technique when it's done so randomly.  On the other hand, I like this poem by Adrian Henry:


The New, Fast, Automatic Daffodils

I wandered lonely as
THE NEW, FAST DAFFODIL
   FULLY AUTOMATIC
that floats on high o'er vales and hills
The Daffodil is generously dimensioned to accommodate four adult passengers
10,000 saw I at a glance
Nodding their new anatomically shaped heads in sprightly dance
Beside the lake beneath the trees
   in three bright modern colours
red, blue and pigskin
The Daffodil de luxe is equipped with a host of useful accessories
including windscreen wiper and washer with joint control
A Daffodil doubles the enjoyment of touring at home or abroad

in vacant or in pensive mood
SPECIFICATION:
  Overall width    1.44 m (57")
  Overall height    1.38m (54.3")
  Max. speed    105 km/hr (65 m.p.h.)
  (also cruising speed)
DAFFODIL
  RELIABLE - ECONOMICAL
DAFFODIL
  THE BLISS OF SOLITUDE
DAFFODIL
  The Variomatic Inward Eye
Travelling by Daffodil you can relax and enjoy every mile of the journey.


(Cut-up of Wordsworth's poem plus Dutch motor-car leaflet)

I think that's an incredibly effective way to ask questions about contemporary life and attitudes - and to perhaps wake people up a little about their personal priorities.  The contrast between Wordsworth's poetry and modern advertising is huge and their juxtaposition here very eye-opening.  I also love the way Simon and Garfunkel did Silent Night - recording the Christmas carol against a backdrop of a contemporary news bulletin reporting war and madness.

As regards the private life of a writer, I'm not particularly interested in that, although of course when you're discussing, for example, Emily Brontë's work, it's incredibly helpful to know some background on the Brontë family, how the siblings lost their mother early, lived on a remote moor, played fantasy games for entertainment, how Charlotte fell in love with her professor and Branwell became an alcoholic etc - those experiences shaped these writers and give useful context for their work, and can help to reconcile some of the puzzles you may find in the way they write.

One thing I am always interested in, with any text containing human relationships, is how people treat each other, and if they appear to be treating each other flippantly etc, it bothers me on an emotional level - which is both a result of my own shaping experiences, and actually, I think, a really useful asset to have, because what hope is there for any of us if we don't care how we treat one another. 

Text can be vicarious experience - and the human brain actually, when you're reading a novel, for example, immerses itself in the constructed universe, and tends to go through a lot of the same emotions as if that universe were real.  So, you're likely to get sweaty hands and an increased heartrate at some point if you're reading a typical Val McDermid novel, for example - even though you know it's constructed.  And that kind of magic is one of the reasons storytelling is so incredibly important to human culture and experience.  It can teach us about the world, and our own selves, in really concentrated and super-effective ways.
SueC is time travelling

SueC


What's that doing here???  That's not The Cure!  :angel

Today, the microscope is back out and we're looking at the lyrics for Push.


PUSH

Go, go, go
Push him away
No, no, no
Don't let him stay

He gets inside to stare at her
The seeping mouth
The mouth that knows
The secret you
Always you
A smile to hide the fear away
Oh, smear this man across the walls
Like strawberries and cream
It's the only, it's the only way to be
(It's the only way to be)

Exactly the same clean room
Exactly the same clean bed

But I've stayed away too long this time
And I've got too big to fit this time



As a song, does anyone here not like this one?  For once, here's a Cure song where I like the studio version just as much as the live renditions - and I love the long instrumental intro, particularly on the studio version.  Along with Sinking, this is my equal favourite track off The Head On The Door.


The lyrics seemed to me on first impression to be relationship advice - possibly given to one's partner, in a fit of self-examination.  "Ditch him!"  (/"Ditch me!")  (...or at least read him the riot act, and stick him in the doghouse!)  ...now, feel free to psychoanalyse me on the basis of this Rorschach test!   :winking_tongue

Robert Smith has allegedly said that the song was inspired by a train journey home.  (What else was famously conceived on a train?  Harry Potter, of course.)  Someone who's seen Live In Orange reported online that the information was conveyed that the writer had travelled on the train in a dress.  This particular fan is transsexual and he could read the song as being about transsexuality, in a way that was particularly meaningful for him.

On that same page you can again read a crowd each putting in their own ideas.  Another person likes to read this song with the man as a personification of depression, "push him away" - and he says it reminds him of Doing The Unstuck.  Then there's a person who says that the song fits growing up, and growing into yourself - and again, I can see how that would work.  Yet another take is that it's "do what you want" - whether travelling on the train in a dress, or eating ice-cream etc - although to me, we're getting onto thinner ice with that particular interpretation - all the previous ideas had more points of congruency with the lyrics.  There's more on that page, some of it interesting, some of it not well supported.

However, it is clear that whatever the intended meaning(s) of this song, it's actually quite a flexible fit for a range of situations, and as a result of that, invites people to identify with it in their own particular ways.  It's like this picture:



What do you see?  But once you see both, you can't unsee either.  Now multiply that effect, because there's more than two possibilities that fit these lyrics in a way that could make sense to someone for good reasons.  There's actually something to be said for doing that deliberately sometimes - although of course, at other times it's an accidental side-effect of parallels in various life situations.

And sometimes it's like this:



Most people will immediately see this as a staircase leading from the bottom right to the top left.  But, you can also see it as an upside-down staircase - the drawing works equally well for both cases, but many never see the upside-down version, which can take a little brain-twist to perceive.  Try swapping the foreground and background mentally, or just turn the drawing upside down (or stand on your head), then put it (or your head) on its side until you can switch from one possibility to the other with ease.

Isn't that fun... :)

In closing, here's something cute we discovered online a while back looking for live versions of Push:lol:
SueC is time travelling

SueC

THE BABY SCREAMS

Heaven, give me a sign
Waiting for the sun to shine
Pleasure fills up my dreams
And I love it, like a baby screams

It's so useless, how can you be proud?
When you're sinking into the ground
Into the ground, fills up my dreams
And I love it, like a baby screams

Couldn't ask for more, you said
Take it all and strike me, strike me, strike me dead
Strike me, strike me dead

Waiting again, waiting like I waited before
Waiting again, waiting here for nothing at all
Heaven fills up my dreams
And I love it, like a baby screams

Couldn't ask for more, you said
Couldn't ever let it end
Take it all, take it all
Then strike me, strike me, strike me, strike me
Strike me dead
Strike me, strike me dead
Strike me, strike me dead

Strike me, strike me, strike me dead

Heaven
Heaven
Heaven
Heaven



It's an upbeat, querulous sort of tune, but I think this is an ode to frustration, depression, ennui, anything but joie de vivre.

I love it, like a baby screams suggests to me the narrator doesn't love it at all.  You could really go to town on this and write a whole other poem or song just describing how odious you're finding something, using that sort of construction:

I love it, like a festering pustule
I love it, like a decomposing elephant
I love it, like a conspiracy theorist
I love it, like an American election
I love it, like an ingrown nose hair
I love it, like a bulbous emerald-green booger
I love it, like flaccid tinned spaghetti

Gawd, this is cathartic.  :smth023  It's just the thing for winding down after a day of frustrating, joy-destroying, soul-svcking (why can't I say svcking?) tax paperwork - you know, a day dedicated to a sort of living death, where you have to give up the dozens of actually useful, creative, happy things you could have done, to do one of the most useless examples of bureaucratic hoop-jumping in the known universe.  I don't mind paying tax, but I do mind all the convoluted, mind-numbing, totally arbitrary mazes invented by the tax people that you are forced to attempt to comprehend in the process of filling in your tax paperwork.

This really sums it up so well:


But come to think of it, I may have just found a legitimate use for this Cure song as well - on endless repeat, while doing tax paperwork...
SueC is time travelling

SueC

CLOSE TO ME

I've waited hours for this
I've made myself so sick
I wish I'd stayed asleep today
I never thought this day would end
I never thought tonight could ever be
This close to me

Just try to see in the dark
Just try to make it work
To feel the fear before you're here
I make the shapes come much too close
I pull my eyes out, hold my breath and wait
Until I sha-ha-ha-hake

But if I had your faith
Then I could make it safe and clean
Oh, if only I was sure
That my head on the door was a dream

I've waited hours for this
I've made myself so sick
I wish I'd stayed asleep today
I never thought this day would end
I never thought tonight could ever be
This close to me

But if I had your faith
Then I could make it safe and clean
Oh, if only I was sure
That my head on the door was a dream



Imagine for a moment that Robert Smith wasn't singing these words in this song, but instead just going "la-la-la-la" - what would you picture, from the music?  What could you make this a soundtrack for?

I imagine that there's dozens of different ideas different people would have here - a lot of them would probably be happy scenes, but some of them not.  Me personally, I see a litter of kittens tumbling over each other, pouncing on tails, chasing each other, jumping all over the furniture, swinging off the curtains, hissing, jumping out from behind doorways, and generally creating cute, mischievous mayhem.  I can also see a jittery kid doing cartwheels and trying to avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement - it's a jittery sort of tune, as well as an upbeat one.

But now I'm going down the pensieve to when I was 14, and first started hearing this song.  Classmates around me were beginning to be bug-eyed over each other.  As the baby of the class, a year younger than my peers, I put on an anthropology hat and did a lot of observing.  I saw nothing I aspired to, in the romantic practice course others were entering.  Just a lot of giggling and innuendo, garishly bruised necks (it was a thing for a while, and cynical me still thinks it's basically a calling card, like a dog urinating on a lamp post), girls angsting, obnoxious boys leering openly, shy boys hiding around corners, female classmates asking me to rate various male backsides out of 10 (on what criteria exactly? and for what purposes?) while I boggled at the question (I'm not interested in people's backsides, I'm interested in their ideas).

Close To Me was a good soundtrack to that, back then.  The title lent itself to the theme, although on close examination the lyrics are sufficiently ambiguous to not necessarily be about that.  And the song sort of reinforced for me what I saw of my peers' romantic experimentation:  It seemed like it was stressful, wrought, decidedly un-fun, not the kind of experience I wanted to volunteer for - I'd stick to reading encyclopaedias, Thesauruses, dictionaries and the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to have a jolly old time, thank you very much - and lose myself in the alternative universes of literature, poetry and music.  It seemed a much more productive and low-stress option.

In many ways I think that 14-year-old was right, and if she'd been able to stick to her guns, she'd have had an easier time of it; but alas, we're all subject to some really mind-bending biochemistry courtesy of our DNA (and courtesy of childhood trauma, as well, for those who've experienced that).  To this day, I think you could use Close To Me as an effective warning for starry-eyed, hormonally-hijacked adolescents and adults:  Think before you go through that door.  You may end up disappointed.

But you know, that's just me, I grew up in emotional chaos and really didn't want more of the same.  Of course I got it anyway, probably less so than if I'd not been wary and hadn't fought it - but at least my story ended up with - well, it would be a happy ending if I died today, but I hope it's a happy middle, and that I can enjoy that for another couple of decades, and have it be a happy ending as well, but we can't take anything like that for granted.

Let's turn now from what the song personally made me reflect on, to what its writer said about it, which is that it's about the "disappointment of dreams made real" and a "sense of impending doom" returning from childhood (see here).  Both of these come through very effectively, and both of them are applicable - to all sorts of situations, inviting you in to process your own stuff - did you know you can buy a full-price Cure CD for less than it costs to have an hour of psychotherapy?  :winking_tongue

I'm just having a think if any of my dreams coming true disappointed me.  The major ones, no.  But maybe by the time that happened, my expectations were more realistic than what young people's tend to be.  Having said that, I've been very lucky to have done a lot of things that were personally meaningful to me, and that's still how it is.  I don't look back at any of the professional work I did in my life with regret - it was worth it, and of course there's always bad patches, and purple patches.  I don't regret what we're doing now, living off-grid in a self-fandangled house and looking after an ecosystem.  I don't regret whom I married, he's still my favourite person and I'm appreciating him more, rather than less, as time goes by; and we're both still growing and learning as people.

I once saw a sign above a colleague's desk:  "IF ALL ELSE FAILS, LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS."  That made me laugh, and sometimes it's true.  I think I've tended to place my highest expectations on my own self, rather than on what was going to be dished up to me, or particular experiences - and I'm also pretty good at gratitude.  All of those traits can become a trap too, of course - there's a lot of juggling in life.

Regardless of that, my biggest gripe isn't being disappointed with experiences, but not being able to fit as much into 24 hours as I'd ideally like to.  :lol:

By the way, if anyone knows what the reference to "my/the head on the door" is about, please let me know.***  I've read a theory in the link above that you can get to by clicking the highlighted line in the song text, but somehow I can't buy that one - it seems way too far-fetched and unsupported, to me - it feels like the tail is wagging the dog.  What do you think?

I'm happy to come back to this or anything else at anytime if anyone wants to jump in, but apart from that, I'm going to zoom through the next couple of tracks soon and then return to KMKMKM, which I want to look at in more detail and haven't yet.  :cool

***PS:  Found something that cleared up the mystery:

Quote"At the last minute I sang these words that I had left over. I didn't think there was anything musically that worked with the words. The words were actually about this sense of impending doom that I used to get. I had chicken pox when I was really young and it started there. I used to get these horrible, nightmarish visions of this head that used to hover in the chink of light that would come when the bedroom lights were turned off and the door was just ajar. The shaft of light that came from the hallway used to illuminate this patch of wallpaper and it would come to life and prophesy doom to me through the night whenever I put my eyes in that general direction. And it came back to me when I was writing The Head On the Door album. I was running myself into the ground a little bit and I started to suffer. I suddenly also started to get the same hallucinations, which was very odd.

That song was essentially about those two things, but at the last minute I tried singing them over this jaunty bassline and drum pattern. It just clicked."

from https://www.songfacts.com/facts/the-cure/close-to-me

SueC is time travelling