I have been known on occasion to state my opinion rather forcefully. Ask Larry to reenact our debates about Jessica Lange in 'The Music Box' or Mike to chide me for denouncing U2's 'Achtung, Baby' with supreme vitriol. Now, I don't think I'll ever change my mind about 'The Music Box' but I don't even remember knocking 'Achtung, Baby' and think it is a masterpiece. So I am often WRONG and self-contradictory.
Throughout high school and college, I scorned The Cure. I found his voice to be unbearable, the lyrical content at once pretentious and childish, and the hair an abomination.
Boys don't cry? I'll make you cry Robert Smith. You dare to write a song based on Albert Camus' 'The Stranger'? 'Killing an Arab'? Really? You really think you are qualified to do that?
I was in the minority even in my crowd. Most punks had a soft spot in their hearts for The Cure. Robert Smith had played in Siouxshie and the Banshees and she got all the little Mohawk boys gaga over her. She bared her tits at 15 and that meant that anyone associated with her had to be cool.
It is easy to forget how huge The Cure were. They played ARENAS people. During the summer of 1989 they toured the world on The Prayer tour. The song 'Pictures of You' was ubiquitous that summer, an epic wrung hankie. My theater crowd was enraptured by this blatant self-immolation/pop confecture and eyeliner started to pop up on faces that shaved.
I spent an awful lot of time deriding this band and those who enjoyed it. I took pleasure in deconstructing the music to the point where it seemed absurd that anyone might take an interest in it. I played mopey alternatives to Cure fans, tearjerkers by bands that I liked, just to show them how it could really be done well.
The Great Woods Arena announced that The Cure would be coming for 2 nights in August. It seemed as if everyone I knew was going. I didn't give it a second thought. Then, the day of the concert, I got a phone call from my friend Chris. An extra ticket, did I want to go, he knew how I felt about The Cure but it would still be a good time, etc., etc.
They all lived just down the street from my parents house on the bottom floor apartment. This house would later be famously run into by a drunk driver at the height of a bong fest. I wasn't there for that party and the feverish cleaning that happened to rid the house of contraband before the police came to investigate the car stuck to the front door.
But I was there for The Cure. They were partying all day. I got there in the afternoon and was offered mushrooms of the kooky variety. I'd never done mushrooms and was quite nervous. But my friends were veterans and described to me in great detail what would happen to me. I pondered while sipping coffee. Hmmmm....
To be quite honest I didn't have to think long. I took what was offered, a very modest amount in order to keep me from being overwhelmed. These kinds of stories are why I originally only wrote fiction on this blog, but now that I've gone down the rabbit hole I might as well admit that I ate the seedcake.
The effect didn't really set in until we were in the parking lot of Great Woods. Up until then I'd merely felt stoned. It was a cool August evening with crazy clouds hinting at storms but merely bulging gray from out of white. My ticket, the one that someone had declined, was coupled with another just under the shed roof. I had to sit with a stranger, a girl whose name I have completely forgotten and might never have really known.
Heat lightning and gusts of wind gave the evening an ominous note that perfectly mirrored the aesthetic of The Cure. A curious darkness fell, cut by the deliberately moody light show. Slight moments of hallucination began to happen to me but the power of the music and visuals kept it from being overwhelming. As is often the case, I began to think that I'd been wrong about The Cure.
The sound had shape. The live sound added layers of meaning and depth to songs that I realized I knew by heart. I knew I had some apologizing to do to all The Cure fans I'd belittled over the years. Was it the shrooms? Did it matter? All of a sudden, I couldn't help but think that 20,000 Cure fans couldn't be wrong.
So if you ever find yourself in a debate with me and I'm tearing something apart, just remember that I'm like the weather in New England. If you don't like what you're getting, just wait five minutes and everything will change.