Album: single 1982, Japanese Whispers EP, 1983
Justification: You know how it is. You meet someone and it hits you like a physical force. You lose your free will and become intoxicated by them, making all sorts of excuses for them no matter what. You had a background in armed robbery, you say? Well, who among us hasn’t wanted to take proactive steps to address economic inequality – you’re just a self-starter is all. And what’s that? You set fire to your family’s house and set starving bears upon those fleeing kinfolk who escaped the flames? I knew it – how deliciously original! From the second I laid eyes on you I thought “now there’s a creative, inventive soul.” And the dark voices are telling you to kill and kill again? Oh, sanity be damned – come here, you perfect, demented creature you!
That’s sort of what happened between me and the Cure. Looking back I can tell that it was an unhealthy relationship and that there were warning signs that I should back away pretty much from the very beginning, but at the time I was blinded by love and refused to listen to reason. In my defence, the band misrepresented themselves to me: when we met they were a jaunty pop band that made catchy singles with quirky videos and I innocently thought we could have some fun times together without any serious commitment. It wasn’t until I looked into their past that I realised the truth, and by that stage it was too late.
Our relationship started, as so many do, out of curiosity. It was late 1982, I was a bored ten year old lookin’ for kicks, and my younger sister Sarah had a cassette called The Breakers 83. She owned it because it had many of the pop hits of the time – Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ was the big attraction, as I recall – but my head was turned by a catchy little tune called ‘Let’s Go To Bed’ (which was followed by ‘Mad World’ by Tears for Fears, incidentally). This pop confection seemed harmless enough, and before too long I was the proud owner of the Japanese Whispers EP, which contained ‘The Walk’ and ‘The Love Cats’. Everything seemed fine – but then came The Top, led by equally poppy single ‘The Caterpillar’, but among the sugar were big, dark songs like ‘Shake Dog Shake’ and the title track, which introduced me to the band’s doomier edge – as did the live album Concert, which I also bought during that first flush of giddy passion. Then the die was cast, and by the time I was 12 I knew every word on the you-don’t-understand-me-or-my-music triumverate that is 17 Seconds/Faith/Pornography, which set the tone for my teenage years. Of course, I kept making excuses for them. You don’t understand them like I understand them, I’d say. Robert Smith doesn’t mean to hurt me, it’s for my own good.
However, like most people lost in an abusive relationship, I finally started to realise that they never really loved me. It wasn’t easy – the first sign that things were hitting rock bottom was when ‘Friday I’m In Love’ appeared on Wish in 1992, when we should have been celebrating our tenth anniversary together, but even then I refused to see the truth. In fact, it wasn’t until 1996′s Wild Mood Swings – specifically, ‘Mint Car’ – that I finally found the courage to say “no more”. Every so often they’d appear to make an effort – hey Andrew, come listen to Bloodflowers, it’s the culmination of a trilogy that started with Pornography and Disintegration – but then I’d realise it was just more lies. And unnecessary amounts of 12 string guitar.
Now when I listen to ‘Let’s Go To Bed’, I do so with pride, knowing that I’ve come out of those years stronger and wiser. I don’t begrudge Robert anything – hey, we had some good times together, I can acknowledge that now – but I was a different person then. Now when I hear the song, I think only of how much I’ve grown.
Oh, and also how sweet that descending bassline is in the intro to the third verse.