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ALBUM – Staring at the Sea (CD Title); Standing on a Beach (Vinyl Title)

ARTIST – The Cure

YEAR – 1986

Somber title.  Sort of Goth and “existentialist”…

Probably among the most objective and contemplative introductions to a novel, ever.  If you read, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  A hint: it’s a translation from the original in French.  Any ideas?!  Ok, then, here’s another clue: the third song on this album is an explicit reference to the work of fiction I’m writing about.  Enough.

The Cure.  What can I say?  What can anyone say about this band?  Great?  Goth?  Amazing?  Awesome?  Yeah, all of the above.  They are inexplicably good, from their lyrics to their unique sound and way more peculiar ways, demeanor and overall style.  Seems every song says something, but not just “something”, something deep, something that has meaning.  I should improve my vocabulary, maybe then I can stop repeating words, eh?!  I’ll work with a Thesaurus next to me from now on.

So, let’s get to it.  Objective post, straight to the point.  Or, maybe I can slip in a personal account?!  You asked for ir.  It was 2002, Spring, Rome, Italy.  A friend who went to college with me was supposedly a big fan of The Cure.  Well, I was a fan, I’d had their albums in vynil, from like the early eighties.  I wasn’t a hardcore, diehard fan, just a fan.  “Little did I know” my friend was not only one of those long-time, hardcore fans, but also had a secret adolescent crush (maybe even an adult one) on Robert Smith.  This was a surprise.  My good friend, one of the smartest people I know, was, first of all, a Cure fan, and into Robert Smith.  Jaws dropped.

So, my college mate came to pick me up on a very beautiful Spring, almost warm, but not cold, day.  The show was at the Olimpico (Mussolini’s “remains”), the Football Stadium in Rome.  I thought it was a big venue for such a band – not that The Cure is a small gig.  Rather, I figured they had been around for a good number of years, I didn’t reckon people, Romans for that matter, followed them still.  Apparently, and to a most agreeable surprise, the venue – as it was set -, was practically full.  I felt pretty bad during the concert however, standing next to my friend clueless of what Smith was singing, while my friend seemed to know every single word and song they performed.  Pretty embarrassing moment for me, being that I like The Cure and all.  Seems my company was the real fan, not me.

Nevertheless, it was a magical concert.  The best company, great setting and impressive show.  They did like 2 hours of “encore”, played all of their greatest hits, some more known, some more obscure; all great.  The band, wrongly labelled as goth and what not (although it has spurred some of a following), was vibrant onstage and it was delightfull experience.

I chose this album in particular ’cause I used to own it in vinyl.  I remember being a kid and really liking this sound.  Of course, I had no clue as to the lyrics, but the songs were great.  Now that I’ve come of age I can understand the lyrics and appreciate Smith’s talent.  The Cure haev definitly made a mark, too.  Their sound, so unique and particular, with somber themes and intricate lyrics, although subversively upbeat at times, represents a landmark in music in recent decades.

If you’ve never heard the band or, like me in the past, had heard them but never really “listened” to them, maybe a good way to begin would be with this release.  It’s like a “pot-pourri” of the band’s variety, it expresses their range of light and fluffy to grim, rainy, gray and muggy sounds.  Of course, some of our favourite tracks also stick out, like “Close to Me” and “Boys Don’t Cry”.  But there are other tracks just as great for us to discover.  My top tune is “Killing an Arab”, hence the title of the post (a very allegorical one).  Another I particularly enjoy is “Play for Today”; it so fits the environment of the time I first listened to it.  “The Love Cats”, a familiar track, has a great, big bassline I love. It’s really cool.  Check ’em out, will you?!


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