New Releases in New Zealand, 11 June 1989
Lullaby – The Cure
The passing of time
And all of its sickening crimes
Is making me sad again
But don’t forget the songs
That made you cry
And the songs that saved your life
Yes, you’re older now
And you’re a clever swine
But they were the only ones who ever stood by you
The Smiths – Rubber Ring
The TV at Kew Grove was on the mezzanine floor. It was a Lockwood house. He can remember a joke about Lockwood homes. It’s to do with lesbians.
The mezzanine looked down over the downstairs living room. The only other upstairs room was his bedroom. This meant that he could sometimes sneak out and watch TV late at night with the volume down low and the lights out. Usually he didn’t. He liked sleeping too much and anyway there was this amazing new invention called the VCR where you could record actual TV shows and then keep them and watch them hundreds of times.
Radio With Pictures. Blackadder. The Young Ones.
Blackadder caused him to laugh so much – late night, suppressed laughter – that his mother observed from the dining room below that he sounded like he was going to burst something. Whenever he thought he was doing something secret she knew anyway.
Lullaby was just on TV one day when he watched RTR Countdown. Just sitting there: creepy and odd and different from anything he had heard before.
Somebody at school had Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me by The Cure on LP and lent it to him. The images on the LP cover were merely an eye and a lip but they were intense, and huge, and lushly saturated in colour. Attractive and gross.
He liked Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me because it was immersive. It was the expression of a sensibility; a strong personality that held everything together. Even when songs seemed diverse – like The Snakepit into Hey You!!! – it had the same vulnerability in it so that even happy songs were either a bit too bright; or seemed to suggest that the beauty of the moment was temporary.
Everything is temporary anyway.
1991 was temporary. He met a group of people he is still friends with so some things of great value do last. He wonders if he would really like to be that version of himself again or if that’s something he just thinks sometimes. He doesn’t have mistakes to correct, or paths he wishes he’d taken – it’s not about that – it’s about how intense the feelings were: hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit or seeing The Doors movie the first time.
One of the people he met in 1991 – who he hasn’t seen for twenty years – was obsessed by The Cure. She was called A. Another friend had Mixed Up. The Cure was everywhere in the background at that time among people he knew. A friend pointed out the greatness of Plainsong to him. One day he came into a friend’s father’s place to hear Head On the Door.
He remembers sitting in A’s living room watching The Cure in concert videos with a large group of friends. They also played charades. One time they were all there someone brought along a mate who wore a black trench coat and said – immortally – “I am the connoisseur of self-destruction” which, at the time, afforded this interloper his contempt. About four years later he hung out one afternoon with the connoisseur of self-destruction and discovered he was a great guy. Three of them sat in the sunny porch of a flat on Norway Street and listened to The Pet Shop Boys and drank beer. Let’s call the third one on that porch Simon Le Bon. (It wasn’t Simon Le Bon.)
He knows now that what was nice about drinking beer on the sunny porch listening to The Pet Shop Boys is that he stopped being a judgmental prat about The Pet Shop Boys, Simon’s taste in music, and the connoisseur of self-destruction’s past statements. As usual he found that he was the problem: quick to judge, slow to forgive and self-absorbed.
The Cure reminds him of a lot of people. A lot of those people love The Cure. If they were a ten out of ten on the imaginary fandom scale at different points in their lives, he was only an eight. Eight is very high, but it is not ten. He wants that to be clear because there is an aspect to his enjoyment of The Cure that is about other people’s enjoyment. Because he was obsessed by some musicians and bands, because he loved some music so much that it did that wonderful trick of removing his critical voice, he was pleased to see that feeling in other people. It bonded him to them. It made him feel that he was with “his people”. People who could happily spend a whole night to two or three am writing poetry or stories listening to tracks over and over again trying to disappear into them.
It reminds him of parties at people’s flats, bedrooms all over Wellington, walks at night and The Hunter Lounge.
When Wish came out he was condemnatory. He doesn’t even know why now. Probably because Friday I’m In Love sounded far too happy. He wasn’t a true fan anyway. His favourite Cure albums weren’t even real albums: Standing on the Beach and Mixed Up.
In 1995 or 1996 he knew a girl who was unhappy a lot of the time in the same way he was. They spent a lot of time together. He doesn’t know if she was a Cure fan. He does remember that she hated Eternal Flame by The Bangles because she had been obsessed by it when it came out. So she was his kind of person: a late night music obsessive.
She is in this story because she was with him the last time he saw the connoisseur of self-destruction. It was late at night on Cuba Street. They were walking south and he was going north. They exchanged brief friendly words. He seemed happy. People usually do.
Remember The Cure though. Inside the brightest song there is a melancholy melody.
New Releases in New Zealand, 11 June 1989
- Queen – I Want It All
- The Cure – Lullaby
- Guns ‘N’ Roses – Patience
- Holly Johnson – Americanos
- John Cougar Mellencamp – Pop Singer
- Robert Palmer – Change His Ways
- Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care
- Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down