Friday, July 1, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days (2011 Edition), Day Twenty: Killing An Arab by The Cure

Okay, we're at the halfway mark....

And we mark this moment with a classic song--one I really like--from The Cure.

You know, I can understand some people who look askance at Robert Smith and company, still putting on the facepaint and black clothing even though they're well into middle age, their doughiness becoming more and more of a problem. But me, I have to give them credit for walking that very thin line that lies between being stuck in the past and evolving past your fanbase. If you listen to the last few Cure albums, you will see a steady-but-slight progression in their music; the Robert Smith who sang this song couldn't sing the stuff on Disintergration with a straight face. And because the evolution has been such a slow, slow crawl, I wonder if some of their hardcore fanbase even realize it's happened.

And there's another thing I have to give them credit for--when they want to write a song about a novel by Camus, they write a song about a novel by Camus. This song hit some time before that brief craze in the 80's for naming songs after famous works of fiction--that right, I'm looking at you, Motels--and unlike those songs, which were unconnected to the actual novels they were supposedly inspired by, this song is a concise, Cliff Notes version of the main action of the novel on which it is based. And it grasps the fact that The Stranger is about power, and feeling something in the face of nothing. All in all, this is a much deeper song than its length and simplistic lyrics give it the right to be. Even such a simple thing as using an Arabian arrangement for this two-and-a-half minute number creates a tension a lesser, dumber band might not think to provide.

Of course, that simplicity also allows other people to look at purely as surface. I'm old enough to remember how a student was expelled for playing this song on his college radio station because it was, like, racist and stuff. Those school administrators should have turned in their badges right there and then, as they displayed a severe lack of understanding of how colleges are about ideas and debate. I'd rather hear this song, which is actually about something than the stuff that passes for popular music these days, which is apparently about nothing but having money and having attitude.

Wow. I went a little off the reservation there. Anyway, here's the video for the song.....

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