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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 36
Sun. Mar 3, 2013

“Plainsong”
The Cure

1989

“♫ “I think I’m
old and I’m in
pain” you
said/ “and
it’s all running
out like it’s
the end of the
world” you said
“and it’s so cold
it’s like the
cold if you were
dead” and then
you smiled for
a second
♫”
The Cure

I’ve been going back lately; listening again to songs and albums that I avoided during my bewildered youth, Disintegration by The Cure was on the top of my list. It took me years to finally understand the complex beauty in The Cure’s Disintegration. I always felt from the opening “Plainsong” that Disintegration was an evocative funeral procession for someone who was already contemplated eternal sleep. But in 1989, I was a scared, confused and lonely teenager who avoided anything I believed had to do with death. What I didn’t realize is that within the dark seas of Disintegration lay pools of illumination, radiating truths of fear and premonition that appear from time to time in our ever changing lives. Boy did I misread the magic of Disintegration as Robert Smith explained when he said, “The essence of this album is the disgust concerning the loss of the ability to feel profound feelings when you grow older. That’s the disintegration I mean. I’m concerned about it, just as about everybody else I know of my age.”

“Plainsong” was the song that took the most time for me to sonically appreciate. What helped for me was analyzing Robert Smith’s very personal lyrics and that’s where I discovered my initial connection. I noticed at the end of every that “Plainsong” to me is the most alluring. “We haven’t made that much depri-music through the years, really. I often found our music to be quite uplifting. But then I wrote the songs, I lost them. Every record that leaves profound traces behind is a positive experience, even if it gives you a deep feeling of despair. At least you feel something again, you’re not blunted, and no matter how paradoxical that may sound.” Robert Smith once said but at first glimpse, “Plainsong” sounds like an explosive eulogy, it comes out of nowhere but dig deeper you’ll find some diamond light at the climax of this Robert Smith’s classic from Disintegration.

I had the words to [“Plainsong”] written quite close to what they’re like, but I didn’t worry about the meter or the rhyme. The phrases were all there. When we work out the music I think, ‘This piece of music will go with these words.’ And when I’m piecing together, I sit in my room and I’ve got the tape playing over and over again, thinking how it should go, until I don’t have to read it. Then I go stand in front of the mike, turn all the lights off, have a couple of drinks, and whatever comes out is it.” Robert Smith said recalling how he recorded “Plainsong.”

Even though Robert Smith originally described the opening number from Disintegration as, “Plainsong enlightens different aspects of an obsession,” to me, “Plainsong” sounds like a beautiful snapshot remembrance of Smith experienced on his wedding day. I picture this is the conversation Smith had with his wife to be Mary. It’s their type of dark English sense of humor talking about death, pain, subjects all, I imagine, Smith would find fascinating, even on his wedding day.

I feel like we’ve neglected a side of our music. The most beautiful is still yet a record to which you can get seated, and enjoy in all loneliness. Those records which after you’ve listened to them give you the feeling you’re really an experience richer, on the contrary of our latest records who where good, but who didn’t really profoundly touched anyone.” Robert Smith is so right. It’s all how you listen to music. When listening to Disintegration in the past all I heard was a cacophony of sadness. Now I’ve discovered in “plainsong” a symphony of desires wrapped in a clouds of insecurities. We all have fears; Disintegration was Robert Smith’s way of letting go of his apprehensive doubts. There’s a beauty in the smiles that Smith shares in “Plainsong.” What at first sounds like chorus of funeral now sound like nervous wedding bells, heartbeats overwhelming those moments of life that define us.
The Cure Perform At Wembley Arena In London 1989



Editors Note
: I actually started writing this on August 26, 2012; I never posted this entry because in the middle of writing about “Plainsong” my wife discovered our beloved cat Lucy had passed away that morning. It has taken me this long to even look at or even listen to “Plainsong.” But I realize as Robert would sing in Bloodflowers, “♫ The world is neither fair nor unfair.♫ ” “Plainsong” reflects this; whether you’re confused or lost in the seas of depression, just knowing through hard work and personal perseverance you will appreciate the light in Disintegration‘s shadows again.

Thank You Robert; and Feliz Cumpleaños to mi hermano, who’s favorite Cure album will always be Disintegration.

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