Music and British Identity: The Cure


Primary members: Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Laurence Tolhurst, Andy Anderson
Band Biography
Albums of focus: Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), Pornography (1982), The Top (1984)
Songs for study:

Selected tracks from Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and The Top:

The Pornography Album (1982):

Robert Smith on recording the album:

"Phil [Phil Thornalley, co-producer and soon-to-be bandmate] got pretty stressed with us. He had ideas of what our music was like, but what I wanted wasn't really like anything we'd had before. I remember there was one particularly long row over a guitar sound that he didn't like. He thought it was horrible...and couldn't see that was a good thing! I wanted to make the ultimate fuck-off record, then the Cure could stop. Phil was trying to make it too nice...I wanted it to be virtually unbearable. I needed this recording to be our grand statement and in the course of making it I didn't much care about anything or anyone else in the world."

 

"A Forest" - from Seventeen Seconds (1980)
Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
While you can
Come closer and see
See into the dark
Just follow your eyes
Just follow your eyes
I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark
I hear her voice
And start to run
Into the trees
Into the trees

Into the trees

Suddenly I stop
But I know it's too late
I'm lost in a forest
All alone
The girl was never there
It's always the same
I'm running towards nothing
Again and again and again

 

"Three" - from Seventeen Seconds (1980)

Scream...scream...[repeat in whisper]

     

"At Night" - from Seventeen Seconds (1980)
Sunk deep in the night
I sink in the night
Standing alone underneath the sky
I feel the chill of ice
On my face
I watch the hours go by

The hours go by...

You sleep
Sleep in a safe bed
Curled and protected
Protected from sight
Under a safe roof
Deep in your house
Unaware of the changes at night

At night
I hear the darkness breathe
I sense the quiet despair
Listen to the silence
At night
Someone has to be there
Someone has to be there

Someone must be there

 

"Secrets" - from Seventeen Seconds (1980)
Secrets
Share with another girl
Talking all night in a room
All night
Everything slowing down
I wish I was yours...
Strangers
Nobody knows we love
I catch your eyes in the dark
One look relives the memory
Remember me
The way I used to be

 

 

"Faith" - from Faith (1981)
Catch me if I fall
I'm losing hold
I can't just carry on this way
And every time
I turn away
Lose another blind game
The idea of perfection holds me...
Suddenly I see you change
Everything at once
The same
But the mountain never moves...
Rape me like a child
Christened in blood
Painted like an unknown saint
There's nothing left but hope...
Your voice is dead
And old
And always empty
Trust in me through closing years
Perfect moments wait...
If only we could stay
Please
Say the right words
Or cry like the stone white clown
And stand
Lost forever in a happy crowd...

No-one lifts their hands
No-one lifts their eyes
Justified with empty words
The party just gets better and better...

I went away alone
With nothing left
But faith

There's nothing left but faith...

 

"Other Voices" - from Faith (1981)
Whisper your name in an empty room
You brush past my skin
As soft as fur
Taking hold
I taste your scent
Distant noises
Other voices

Pounding in my broken head
Commit the sin
Commit yourself
And all the other voices said
Change your mind
You're always wrong

Come around at Christmas
I really have to see you
Smile at me slyly
Another festive compromise
But I live with desertion
And eight million people
Distant noises
Other voices

Pulsing in my swinging arms
Caress the sound
So many dead
And all the other voices said
Change your mind
You're always wrong

 

"The Holy Hour" - from Faith (1981)
I kneel and wait in silence
As one by one the people slip away
Into the night
The quiet and empty bodies
Kiss the ground before they pray
Kiss the ground
And slip away...

I sit and listen dreamlessly
A promise of salvation makes me stay
Then look at your face
And feel my heart pushed in
As all around the children play
The games they tired of yesterday
They play

I stand and hear my voice
Cry out
A wordless scream at ancient power
It breaks against stone
I softly leave you crying...

I cannot hold what you devour
The sacrifice of penance
In the holy hour

 

 

"The Empty World" - from The Top (1984)
As stiff as toys
And tall as men
And swaying like the wind-torn trees
She talked about the empty world
With eyes like poisoned birds
She talked about the armies
That marched inside her head
And how they made her dreams go bad
But oh!
How happy she was!
How proud she was!
To be fighting in the war
In the empty world!

 

All the faces
All the voices blur
Change to one face
Change to one voice
Prepare yourself for bed
The light seems bright
And glares on white walls
All the sounds of
Charlotte sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte sometimes

Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark
The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry

The people seemed so close
Playing expressionless games
The people seemed
So close
So many
Other names...

Sometimes I'm dreaming
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Expressionless the trance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
So many different names
Sometimes I'm dreaming
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
She hopes to open shadowed eyes
On a different world
Come to me
Scared princess
Charlotte sometimes

On that bleak track
(See the sun is gone again)
The tears were pouring down her face
She was crying and crying for a girl
Who died so many years before...

Sometimes I dream
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I dream
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I dream
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
There are so many different names
Sometimes I dream
Sometimes I dream...

Charlotte sometimes crying for herself
Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself
But it's always with love
With so much love it looks like
Everything else
Of Charlotte sometimes
So far away
Glass sealed and pretty
Charlotte sometimes

 

 

"One Hundred Years" - from Pornography (1982)
It doesn't matter if we all die
Ambition in the back of a black car
In a high building there is so much to do
Going home time
A story on the radio...

Something small falls out of your mouth
And we laugh
A prayer for something better
A prayer
For something better
Please love me
Meet my mother...
But the fear takes hold
Creeping up the stairs in the dark
Waiting for the death blow

Stroking your hair as the patriots are shot
Fighting for freedom on the television
Sharing the world with slaughtered pigs
Have we got everything?
She struggles to get away...

The pain
And the creeping feeling
A little black haired girl
Waiting for Saturday
The death of her father pushing her
Pushing her white face into the mirror
Aching inside me
And turn me round
Just like the old days
Just like the old days

Caressing an old man
And painting a lifeless face
Just a piece of new meat in a clean room
The soldiers close in under a yellow moon
All shadows and deliverance
Under a black flag
A hundred years of blood
Crimson
The ribbon tightens round my throat
I open my mouth
And my head bursts open
A sound like a tiger thrashing in the water
Thrashing in the water
Over and over
We die one after the other
Over and over
We die one after the other after the other...

It feels like a hundred years
One hundred years...

 

"A Short Term Effect" - from Pornography (1982)
Movement
No movement
Just a falling bird
Cold as it hits the bleeding ground
He lived and died...
Catch sight
Cover me with earth
Draped in black
Static
White sound

A day without substance
A change of thought
An atmosphere that rots with time
Colours that flicker in water
A short term effect

Scream!
As she tries to push him over
Helpless and sick
With teeth of madness
Jump jump dance and sing
Sideways across the desert
A charcoal face
Bites my hand
Time is sweet
Derange and disengage everything

A day without substance
A change of thought
The atmosphere rots with time
Colours that flicker in water
A short term effect

An echo
And a stranger's hand
A short term effect
An echo
And a stranger's hand
A short term effect

 

"Hanging Garden" - from Pornography (1982)
Creatures kissing in the rain
Shapeless in the dark again
In the hanging garden
Please don't speak
In the hanging garden
No one sleeps

Catching haloes on the moon
Gives my hands the shapes of angels
In the heat of the night
The animals scream
In the heat of the night
Walking into a dream...

Fall fall fall fall
Into the walls
Jump jump out of time
Fall fall fall fall
Out of the sky
Cover my face as the animals cry
In the hanging garden

Creatures kissing in the rain
Shapeless in the dark again
In a hanging garden
Change the past
In a hanging garden
Wearing furs and masks...

Fall fall fall fall
Into the walls
Jump jump out of time
Fall fall fall fall
Out of the sky
Cover my face as the animals die
In the hanging garden

In the hanging garden

 

"Siamese Twins" - from Pornography (1982)
I chose an eternity of this
Like falling angels
The world disappeared
Laughing into the fire
Is it always like this?
Flesh and blood and the first kiss
The first colours
The first kiss

We writhed under a red light
Voodoo smile
Siamese twins
A girl at the window looks at me for an hour
Then everything falls apart
Broken inside me
It falls apart

The walls and the ceiling move in time
Push a blade into my hands
Slowly up the stairs
And into the room
Is it always like this?

Dancing in my pocket
Worms eat my skin
She glows and grows
With arms outstretched
Her legs around me...

In the morning I cried

Leave me to die
You won't remember my voice
I walked away and grew old
You never talk
We never smile
I scream
You're nothing
I don't need you any more
You're nothing

It fades and spins
Fades and spins...

Sing out loud
We all die!!!
Laughing into the fire...

Is it always like this?


Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst (members of The Cure), and Steve Severin (of Siouxsie & The Banshees) performing "Siamese Twins" from Pornography accompanied by The Royal Ballet (live TV, 1983)

 

"The Figurehead" - from Pornography (1982)
Sharp and open
Leave me alone
And sleeping less every night
As the days become heavier and weighted
Waiting
In the cold light
A noise
A scream tears my clothes as the figurines tighten
With spiders inside them
And dust on the lips of a vision of hell
I laughed in the mirror for the first time in a year

A hundred other words blind me with your purity
Like an old painted doll in the throes of dance
I think about tomorrow
Please let me sleep
As I slip down the window
Freshly squashed fly
You mean nothing
You mean nothing

I can lose myself in Chinese art and American girls
All the time
Lose me in the dark
Please do it right
Run into the night
I will lose myself tomorrow
Crimson pain
My heart explodes
My memory in a fire
And someone will listen
At least for a short while...

I can never say no to anyone but you

Too many secrets
Too many lies
Writhing with hatred
Too many secrets
Please make it good tonight...
But the same image haunts me
In sequence
In despair of time

I will never be clean again
I touched her eyes
Pressed my stained face
I will never be clean again

Touch her eyes
Press my stained face
I will never be clean again

I will never be clean again

 

"A Strange Day" - from Pornography (1982)
Give me your eyes
That I might see the blind man kissing my hands
The sun is humming
My head turns to dust as he plays on his knees

And the sand
And the sea grows
I close my eyes
Move slowly through drowning waves
Going away on a strange day

And I laugh as I drift in the wind
Blind
Dancing on a beach of stone
Cherish the faces as they wait for the end
A sudden hush across the water
And we're here again...

And the sand
And the sea grows
I close my eyes
Move slowly through drowning waves
Going away
On a strange day

My head falls backs
And the walls crash down
And the sky
And the impossible
Explode
Held for one moment I remember a song
An impression of sound
Then everything is gone
Forever

A strange day...

 

"Cold" - from Pornography (1982)
Scarred
Your back was turned
Curled like an embryo
Take another face
You will be kissed again
I was cold as I mouthed the words
And crawled across the mirror

I wait
Await the next breath
Your name
Like ice into my heart

A shallow grave
A monument to the ruined age
Ice in my eyes
And eyes like ice don't move
Screaming at the moon
Another past time

Your name
Like ice into my heart

Everything as cold as life
Can no-one save you?
Everything
As cold as silence
And you will never say a word

Your name
Like ice into my heart

 

The Cure performing "Cold" live in Paris, France (1982)

 

"Pornography" - from Pornography (1982)

Note: The "static" noise that runs through the beginning, middle, and end of this song is a recording of a TV debate about pornography between Monty Python member Graham Chapman and noted feminist Germaine Greer, played backwards. Phil Thornalley and Robert Smith recorded this program randomly to use as ambient noise in the song.

A hand in my mouth
A life spills into the flowers
We all look so perfect
As we all fall down

In an electric glare
The old man cracks with age
She found his last picture
In the ashes of the fire
An image of the queen
Echoes round the sweating bed
Sour yellow sounds inside my head
In books
And films
And in life
And in heaven
The sound of slaughter
As your body turns

But it's too late

One more day like today and I'll kill you
A desire for flesh
And real blood
I'll watch you drown in the shower
Pushing my life through your open eyes

I must fight this sickness
Find a cure

I must fight this sickness...

 

The Cure performing "Pornography" live, Munich, Germany (1984)

GRAFFITI STUDY WALL: MUSIC & VIDEOS
SEX PISTOLS
KRAFTWERK
THE CLASH
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.
JOY DIVISION
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
AU PAIRS
COCTEAU TWINS
ARTERY
HUMAN LEAGUE
HEAVEN 17
THE SPECIALS
CABARET VOLTAIRE
TEARS FOR FEARS
DEPECHE MODE
THE SOUND
THE GLOVE
STEEL PULSE
THE CURE
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS
GANG OF FOUR
NEW ORDER
U2
THE POLICE
CRASS
NEW MODEL ARMY
ELVIS COSTELLO
SPLIT ENZ
THE THE
XTC
THE EXPLOITED
DISCHARGE
THE SMITHS
THE HOUSEMARTINS
RADIOHEAD
PORTISHEAD
PET SHOP BOYS
M Y BLOODY VALENTINE
SLOWDIVE
CRASH MUSIC
MUSIC OF THE TROUBLES

VIDEOS:

SEX PISTOLS
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES (LIVE)
THE CURE (LIVE)
COCTEAU TWINS (LIVE)
NEW ORDER (LIVE)
PORTISHEAD (LIVE)
JOY DIVISION MINI-DOCUMENTARY
NUCLEAR WAR PREPAREDNESS: PROTECT & SURVIVE MANUAL