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General Cure song meanings discussion thread

Started by SueC, December 24, 2019, 05:31:39

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word_on_a_wing

Quote from: SueC on January 04, 2020, 15:53:27I'm coming back to this to ask you, because I'm not sure, if you believe in some sort of conscious eternal existence for human beings on some sort of spiritual level, beyond the grave.  Because I don't, and have therefore, all along, been necessarily answering you from the perspective that we all die and that this represents the end of organised consciousness for the individual we each are.

So in the universe I live in, you have the here and now, and however much is left of the fourscore and a bit you might get if you're lucky, and you have to make it meaningful within these constraints.  And unlike some (but not all) of the existentialists I've read (and I don't personally subscribe to that philosophy), I believe having a meaningful life within such constraints is eminently possible, because I think we can create our own meaning, instead of needing to have it handed to us on a silver platter.

I'll try keep my response brief as this is very off-topic
-I'm not religious
-nor do I endorse religions which encourage one to blindly follow a middle-man who is alleged to know God
-yet I believe ....umm, I'm not sure how to describe it....
.... take Quantum Physics for example. Now it's much too complex for me to say I fully understand it, but what I am struck by is how there are some mysterious and surprising goings-on throughout the universe. Why then would I hold on firmly to an idea that only what I see is real, and there is nothing beyond this.
...at a personal level I have also had profound experiences with lucid dreaming, and have travelled and experienced things as vividly as in waking life. So upon waking, how can I say with certainty that this is the only true reality? I don't because the fact is I don't know, but I'm very intrigued, and any chance to develop myself in ways that will allow me to listen more deeply ...yep, I'm in.
It's not about reaching something in the (after death) future, it's very much about the here and now.

...and I believe there are many ways people do this, though it seems that checking ones preconceptions at the door, and having a neutral and open mind helps
In my case it has been largely through kundalini yoga and meditation, which has helped strengthen my nervous system, and work on moving the kundalini energy up the central spinal column.  I have also been curious about mantras from different traditions, and studied/experienced Naad yoga (ie how chanting mantra can effect consciousness). I've mostly gravitated towards pranayam though (breath-based meditations).
For others it could be through having transcendent experiences while creating music, or art, or through nature etc.  Some also have such experiences via drugs, though this can be dangerous and unsustainable as the body's nervous system can struggle to handle it.

...can we leave this conversation there please, I'm aware I likely sound insane.  My bottom-line answer is "I don't know" ...I don't think any of us can say we do know.  But I'm someone inclined to lean into the unknown, rather than just believing the known is all there is.

"From what I've read and seen, the person who wrote these lines appears to be openly atheist, at least these days.  Anyone here who can confirm that?"
Yes, from things I've read I understand RS to be atheist.

"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."

SueC

Thank you for sharing with us some of your own point of view, @word_on_a_wing.  It's really interesting to learn about other people's perspectives.   :smth023

I'd argue that it's actually not at all off-topic, since this is a general Cure song meanings discussion thread, and because our opinions and ideas on song meanings are probably less important than the process which gets us there.  I think art has two sides to it - the creating of it, but no less important, the way people respond to it and why! :cool 

This is necessarily a very personal thing.  Out of all the arts, literature and poetry included, it's music which seems to be the one people relate to most strongly on a personal level, and which has an ability to communicate things above and beyond words, and to bring people together.

I also wouldn't worry about being perceived as sounding insane. I think this is a pretty friendly and well-moderated place as well.  I've said all sorts of things that I'm sure a lot of people would find insane, so you're not on your own there. ;)

Have you ever heard of the philosopher Berkeley?  He also was very intrigued by the lucidity of some dreams, and hypothesised that the whole world was just a shared lucid dream, being projected onto formless blobs of consciousness (us) and therefore internally consistent.  That idea, of course, takes a projectionist, and since he philosophised in a religious era, and was a religious person, he already had his projectionist.  I disagree with Berkeley, but that doesn't mean I can prove him wrong, or that I can prove that there isn't an invisible dragon under my bed.   :angel   I still find it interesting to consider these perspectives; it's good exercise for the brain and the imagination, and good practice to listen to other points of view in an open and non-judgemental manner; and, we might learn something!  (Though I admit I am extremely challenged when talking to fundamentalists of any description! That is very difficult...because openness really doesn't feature very strongly there...)

Talking about the nature of reality, and even about Cure song meanings, it's good to remember this famous poem:

The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he:
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!


 :beaming-face

...and if these learned men from Indostan hadn't argued about how their own limited perspectives were the correct perspective, but instead had sat down cooperatively and made a synthesis out of their different perspectives, they would have come up with a pretty good model of the elephant after all... ;)

...and that's why discussions like this can be so incredibly valuable. :cool
SueC is time travelling

SueC

Something from the B-sides thread, which I've finally been able to get back to today:  A real jewel of a song called Possession, which is a very cleverly written Jekyll & Hyde number and has become one of my favourite pieces from any or all of music, poetry, literature etc, on being human and dealing with your shadow.


Lyrics with a few notes on what I like about the writing...


POSSESSION

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

piggymirror

Quote from: MeltingMan on January 04, 2020, 17:26:46
Quote from: piggymirrorIt's like on the Wish album credits, there is a quote from some author I forgot, saying "our sweetest songs are the ones with saddest thoughts".

That was from Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Complete Poems. 😉 👍🏻

The poem's called To A Skylark.

That verse is about ideals, efforts, and fvcking things up.

piggymirror

Quote from: Ulrich on January 03, 2020, 09:30:51
Quote from: piggymirror on January 02, 2020, 16:36:42... Robert. He really was in bad shape in 1983/84...
People actually think that Pornography is darkest, and sonically it is very much indeed...
But lyrics-wise, The Top is even darker, although the music is "happier" (except Shake Dog Shake and Give Me It, of course).

Not that the title track or "the empty world" do sound utterly "happy"...  :1f636:

Okay, not The Top, that one's to be put aside Shake Dog Shake or Give Me It, yes.
Although it sounds very different from those two, it sounds more psychedelic.

On the other hand, The Empty World sounds as if it could have been on a Monty Python film. 
Just take the lyrics out, and it's boring. Unless there is something on it that I am missing.
That keyboard totally kills it. The raw, keyboard-less demo is much stronger.
As for the lyrics, it's supposed to be the second part of Splintered In Her Head.

Quote from: Ulrich on January 03, 2020, 09:30:51
Quote from: piggymirror on January 02, 2020, 16:36:42This song is key to understand Robert's lyrics.

Is it? To me some of these lyrics scream "mind-bending drugs" (or should we blame it on Anderson's mushroom tea, he apparently brewed for them during the recordings?)...
Because, when you see "shapes in the drink like Christ" it might be a religious experience - or maybe just too much acid?  :angel  :evil:
 :-D

Note that the line goes "I watch you in secrecy".
The author clearly unveils.

piggymirror

Quote from: SueC on January 05, 2020, 10:26:20Thank you for sharing with us some of your own point of view, @word_on_a_wing.  It's really interesting to learn about other people's perspectives.  :smth023

I'd argue that it's actually not at all off-topic, since this is a general Cure song meanings discussion thread, and because our opinions and ideas on song meanings are probably less important than the process which gets us there.  I think art has two sides to it - the creating of it, but no less important, the way people respond to it and why! :cool 

This is necessarily a very personal thing.  Out of all the arts, literature and poetry included, it's music which seems to be the one people relate to most strongly on a personal level, and which has an ability to communicate things above and beyond words, and to bring people together.

I also wouldn't worry about being perceived as sounding insane. I think this is a pretty friendly and well-moderated place as well.  I've said all sorts of things that I'm sure a lot of people would find insane, so you're not on your own there. ;)

Have you ever heard of the philosopher Berkeley?  He also was very intrigued by the lucidity of some dreams, and hypothesised that the whole world was just a shared lucid dream, being projected onto formless blobs of consciousness (us) and therefore internally consistent.  That idea, of course, takes a projectionist, and since he philosophised in a religious era, and was a religious person, he already had his projectionist.  I disagree with Berkeley, but that doesn't mean I can prove him wrong, or that I can prove that there isn't an invisible dragon under my bed.  :angel  I still find it interesting to consider these perspectives; it's good exercise for the brain and the imagination, and good practice to listen to other points of view in an open and non-judgemental manner; and, we might learn something!  (Though I admit I am extremely challenged when talking to fundamentalists of any description! That is very difficult...because openness really doesn't feature very strongly there...)

Three imaginary boys
Sing in my sleep
Sweet child the moon will change your mind


There's the fact that sometimes the strange, the completely unexpected, the nearly unconceivable, the thing you may have heard of but dismissed as so very much impossible that is completely laughable, turns out to be real.

In Spain a man spent €7,600 in lottery as he had a premonition. He went and won the lot, the bastard.

Ulrich

Quote from: piggymirror on January 06, 2020, 07:45:59Note that the line goes "I watch you in secrecy".
The author clearly unveils.

Huh? Unveils what exactly?  :?
And who's watching who? Is he watching the piggy in the mirror (=himself?), or you, me, all of us?  :expressionless:
If only I'd thought of the right words...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on January 04, 2020, 15:30:29Much as I try to avoid looking up too many possible "song meanings", I do like this one:[snip - already responded to]

And this:
https://ig.ft.com/life-of-a-song/friday-im-in-love.html
Quote from: undefined"Genuinely dumb pop lyrics are much more difficult to write than my usual outpourings through the heart," Smith told Spin Magazine in an interview published a few months after the release of Wish
It's been reported that one line is based on Smith seeing his wife Mary in their kitchen late at night: "Spinning round and round / Always take a big bite / It's such a gorgeous sight / To see you eat in the middle of the night."
It's a memorable encounter that adds levity and specificity to the track.

Had the song been released in or after 2000, then that would have also been a perfect fit for Nigella - not sure if you ever got her cooking show Nigella Bites in Germany, but there was this gag at the end of every show where she was getting up in the middle of the night to raid the fridge, and she always obviously enjoyed her food:


Always great fun to watch.  Her crew could have applied those lines to her in her series - but the flavour of the music wouldn't have fitted.  Anyway, I thought, "Well, I know of someone just like that!" when I read your quote.  And that's a good thing - that music often fits many different scenarios besides the one it was originally written for.  :cool
SueC is time travelling

piggymirror

Quote from: Ulrich on January 06, 2020, 13:20:43
Quote from: piggymirror on January 06, 2020, 07:45:59Note that the line goes "I watch you in secrecy".
The author clearly unveils.

Huh? Unveils what exactly?  :?

It's a literary figure.
 
Quote from: Ulrich on January 06, 2020, 13:20:43And who's watching who? Is he watching the piggy in the mirror (=himself?), or you, me, all of us?  :expressionless:

He is watching the piggy in the mirror (hence the title).
And winks a literary eye to you, me, and all of us.

Ulrich

Quote from: piggymirror on January 07, 2020, 06:09:58It's a literary figure.
 
He is watching the piggy in the mirror (hence the title).

Uh-huh. That does explain it all. Or maybe not.  :1f636:  :expressionless:  :neutral-face
If only I'd thought of the right words...

SueC

Well, this is why you're supposed to support your views with evidence when you write a literary criticism etc.  If you just make assertions like, "This is about XYZ," you're not showing the process by which you arrived at your conclusions, and leave readers doubting there's much of a process, even though of course there might be one.  If you say (or imply) things like, "This is obviously about XYZ," without saying why, then it might irritate readers, especially if a number of different ways of looking at the subject matter exist (and this is often the case). It also makes for better discussions all around if people explain their thinking, rather than just state their views, and if they say things like, "This is how I see it," or, "I think/in my opinion" rather than "This is how it is."

Of course, this is the Internet, and many people aren't used to doing more than soundbytes online, so it might be a bit of a shock to see "extended answers" or to have people ask you for them!  :angel

But, it would avoid those games of ping-pong.  No obligation, of course.

Still, I'm interested in everyone's thinking here, for what it's worth.  :) 

And I too have occasions where I should be following my own advice.  ;)  :-D  :1f62d:  :oops:  :1f634:
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: Ulrich on January 04, 2020, 14:04:40
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on January 04, 2020, 13:32:28I have wondered at times if RS says things in a way to provoke us to think for ourselves.

Difficult to say. Anyone got any (links to) old interviews in which he talks about his lyrics?

To get back to this, I found an old interview, in which he talks about his lyrics (Q Magazine, summer 1995, during their festival tour and during the making of 'WMS'):

"Lyrically, I'm finding it difficult to surpass Disintegration and Wish. It's finding subject matter that I can be bothered to write a song about. I know it sound naive, but it has to motivate me to sit down and take the time and trouble to put my ideas down on paper and then sing them in a way that communicates something to someone else."
If only I'd thought of the right words...

SueC

It's always useful to have actual quotes from the actual author about their work!   :smth023

I was going to make a joke about if you have two X chromosomes, you get less writer's block / not being bothered...  :angel

But instead I'm going to throw in a real joke (which I am afraid is only vaguely on topic.)  What's the difference between an acoustic guitarist and a large pizza?  (The large pizza can feed a family of four.)
SueC is time travelling