It’s trite to comment on how music can teleport one to specific times in one’s life; or that one’s life has a soundtrack. People say it so much that the sense of wonder that hearing a certain song evokes is somehow lost in the banal, the commonplace, the cliché.
I thought about this all afternoon.
Last week I received, in a swooping logo-ed Amazon.com box, a DVD that I’d been dying to get my undead mitts on since I’d first heard about it. You see, part of being an old Goth dinosaur is that I still hold on to certain music and styles that may not necessarily be in vogue anymore. It’s like in the movie Trainspotting, when Diane tells Renton that there are new things in the world besides Iggy Pop and New Order. I feel like Renton at times; wallowing in my past and reveling in the anachronism that is old school Goth and Industrial music. This DVD was just one of those things.
The DVD is The Cure's Trilogy. It is a concert video of The Cure in Berlin playing the ultimate, quintessential, and definitive Cure albums in their original order and back to back. The albums, of course, are Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers. These three albums, together, define The Cure’s body of work. Additionally, as most Cure fans agree and as Robert Smith confirms in the DVD extras, these three albums are linked ‘spiritually’.
If you were to ask me who my favorite band of all time is – I’d have to say that, undeniably, it is The Cure. Which is funny because, for a long time, I would have probably said it was The Police. Which is true to an extant, but not entirely. As I’ve aged I’ve become more cynical, much darker of mood and temprement, and drawn to the melancholy and world weary gloom of Robert Smith.
And it goes back to high school, as these things inevitably must. I had my first taste of The Cure on a mix tape my friend Jason had made to play in the background while we role-played Call of Cthulhu. And yes, my high school years were spent role-playing in my friend Sean’s attic. Yes, I am a nerd and a geek. Anyway, the tape had an eclectic mix of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Suicidal Tendencies, The Sex Pistols, and Duran Duran. And then there was this one song, stuck in the middle. It had a droning, building, rage and pain and loathing of love that resonated with my young mind. I learned that it was The Cure, and had to hear more. So, after tracking down Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me from our other friend Curtis (we did that often; shared music, books, games, girlfriends), I fell in love with The Cure.
My last year of high school, as I prepared to go off to college, the Cure released Disintegration. I was never the same after that and this album, above all others, would be the soundtrack that most defined my college experience. Yes, there were other albums that resonated, and fill in the spaces. Albums like Peter Gabriel’s Us, or Sting’s Soul Cages, or even Nine Inch Nails Perfect Hate Machine. But none of them reached the depth of resonance that Disintegration did.
I thought of this as I watched Trilogy today. I’ve seen The Cure in concert probably close to a dozen times. I once even followed them as they did shows on three consecutive nights in Cleveland, Dayton, and Fort Wayne Indiana. My own sort of black clad, Gothic, Grateful Dead thing - - as it were. This DVD, though, was the best performance I’ve seen them do.
And as they started the Disintegration set I found myself back in my college apartment.
I imagined myself lying on my bed beside the window, looking down at the blowing, swirling cold and snow of a northern Midwestern winter. The room is dark and flickering with the single light of a mulberry candle given me by my friend, Doctor Michelle. I imagine that, outside of my half open door, I hear my roommates Stephen and Barb arguing about doing the dishes. Or perhaps my other roommate Kimber is downstairs, singing as she does her homework, her voice like a beautiful ghost dancing in the echoes and shadows of the 150 year old house we lived in. Or perhaps my other friends, Sean, Jay, Richie, and Amy Lynn are laughing at something on the TV in the downstairs living room. And I am there, alone amidst all of this activity, absorbing the hiss of the radiator in my corner and feeling the bliss of being with those I love and who are now gone on their own lives’ paths. I look to the candlelight-lapped ceiling and breath deep, hoping that this perfection never ends, but knowing it must.
And in the background, my CD player begins playing The Same Deep Water As You, by The Cure.
All of this came rushing back to me as I half watched and listened to the DVD this afternoon. And I felt that swell of bittersweet remembrance and the coppery-tasting throat constriction that one gets when tears might come.
Robert Smith’s a god, man. A god.
An additional note on the DVD, besides the fact that I obviously loved it. They only did two songs as an encore and they were both from Kiss Me…. Remember that droning, angst-ridden song I mentioned earlier? On Jay Jay’s role-playing mix tape? It was 'The Kiss', and it was how they ended the concert. This wild idea of playing albums back to back, that Robert himself called The Cure’s greatest accomplishment, ended with the very song that made me fall in love with them.
Nostalgia can be a bitch, ya’ know?