FUV Essentials: Russ Borris on The Cure
Robert Smith of The Cure (photo courtesy of the artist, Facebook.com)
If you're a teenager and you're not listening to The Cure, you're not doing it right. There has always been something about the music of The Cure—the lyrics and the anguish in Robert Smith’s voice—that immediately strikes a connection with the teenage mind. It’s not as rudimentary as “I like that song.” It’s something more.
For me (and others I’m sure), it began with 1989's Disintegration. While “Lovesong” represented a somewhat sweeter side of Smith’s lyrical arsenal, it was songs like “Pictures of You” and “Lullaby” that drew me in. To this day, I can’t listen to “Pictures of You” without being hit with a profound feeling of sadness and I can’t even really explain why. And the creepiness of “Lullaby” as Smith sings, “That the Spiderman is having me for dinner tonight?” Great stuff. This discovery led to my exploration of other albums like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and The Head on the Door. The first time I heard “Close to Me?” Life changing.
That's not to suggest that all songs from The Cure are moody, morose and depressing. Just the good ones. Seriously, Smith has written some incredibly bouncy and happy songs over the years with “Friday I’m In Love,” “Just Like Heaven,” and “The Lovecats” leading that group. But it’s not really what you go to The Cure for, is it? You listen to the band's music for comfort, to absorb yourself in whatever sadness you’re feeling, and then you let it pass. It’s not about sinking into a deep depression: it’s about coping with it and finding your way out.
While that connection began as a teenager, I still hear The Cure in that same way. Atmospherically sad and expansively downbeat, their catalog is overflowing with brilliance. It just shines in a different way than some other bands’ discographies. That’s what has made this band so special to me. They crafted a sound and owned it every step of the way, weathering internal strife, Smith’s personal struggles, and an ever-evolving musical landscape.
Color it with whatever adjectives you like, but it’s impossible to deny the impact their music has had over the last 35 plus years. Countless bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, and The xx might not exist if not for the lasting influence of Smith’s words and the lushness of The Cure’s sonic texture.
It’s not about sadness. It’s about celebration.