I received an itunes $25 gift card from my Mother-in-Law Sally for Christmas and was having much trouble deciding what to purchase with it. I finally bought a copy of the Chris Whitley song "Living With The Law" and also a Whiskeytown album I had never heard which turned out to be quite good. What else though. How do you choose from such a vast selection of music . Then it hit me and took me back over 20 years ago.
It was around this time of year in 1989 that I got my first real taste of what would become one of my favorite bands. I was working at a plastic manufacturing company in Mason Ohio called Hamilton Plastics, or maybe, Worthington Custom Plastics. I can't remember which it would have been but, that really has nothing to do with the story so we won't worry about that. It was the Christmas season so some of the people working 2nd shift decided we would have a grab bag style gift exchange. One of the QA ladies drew my name and sent message that she had no idea what to get me. so I confided to the messenger that there was a fairly new album that I would like to hear and maybe she could get me a cassette copy of this record as I did have a state of the art personal cassette player. A Sony, I think. Again, not important. we were allowed to listen to these at work and believe me. That was worth at least $1 per hour less in pay if they had charged us. I wrote down the name of the cassette I wanted and sure enough at the Christmas dinner, Mary (I don't remember her name but it seems every lady in QA was named Mary) handed me a neatly wrapped package that appeared to be a cassette tape. I opened with the enthusiasm of Ralphie tearing into his Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle and there it was. The Cure "Disintegration."
I couldn't wait to hear it as I had heard a song from it on 97X "BAM" The Future of Rock And Roll. A local and sorely missed radio station from my younger years. I first heard such personally influential bands as The Replacements R.E.M. Chris Whitley and Dinosaur Jr. As if on cue my son Casey just fired up "Customer" by the Mats on his newly acquired ipod. I love him. Of course according to my brother all of these bands were just a bunch of fags and couldn't compare to such bands as Damn Yankees or Knight Ranger. again, not important. I couldn't wait to hear it. When we returned to work after eating I put the cassette into my player and track one started. I turned it all the way up and got absolutely lost in the wall of sound coming through my headphones and when the lyrics began after the lengthy musical prelude of lush synth and heavily chorused "Plainsong" I knew right away that I was listening to an instant classic.
"I think it's dark and it looks like rain," you said
"And the wind is blowing 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.
"I think I'm old and I'm feeling the pain," you said,
"And it's all running out like it's the end of the world," you said
"Feels so cold it's like the cold if you were dead," and then you smiled for a second.
Sometimes you make me feel like I'm living at the edge of the world, like I'm living at the edge of the world.
"It's just the way I smile," you said.
Wow. If this was the only song on this tape it would have been what I wanted for Christmas. That is to this day one of my favorite lyrics of all time. Well, as we know that wasn't all because the next song complete with lengthy musical prelude was the song I had heard on 97X "BAM" The Future of Rock and Roll that made me desire this album in the first place. "Pictures of You." Smiths vocal is the essence of broken heartedness. I couldn't believe my ears. Could it get better? Yes.
Up next "Closedown." I risked running down my batteries to have another listen to this one with the hypnotic drums and synthesized backing voices. It was like modern monks. With big sounding reverb heavy guitars. Robert Smiths"s voice is entrancing. Only he could pull this one off.
Then the future hit for not only The Cure, but some other band that is not The Cure, "Lovesong" had dreary eyed goth boys and girls bobbing their spiked heads in unison on at least three continents. Still as important today as it was then.
"Last Dance" stings like your first love telling you she slept with you sister. "I'm so glad you came, I'm so glad you remembered." Could this album be this good? Why don't I have any of their records? What have I been missing? "A woman left standing where once there was only a girl" I FUCKING LOVED IT!
"Lullaby" followed taking me back to my youth listening to "The Black Widow" by Alice Cooper. It was really nothing like the Coop except that it mentioned a spider man eating him. Although it could have very well been introduced by Vincent Price also. As creepy as it is. Then for the first time I heard the bass line for "Fascination Street." Another great tune with an irresistible groove to it. "Just put on you hair and put on your pout and lets move to the beat like we know that it's over" I knew it was over. My taste in music was transformed. My mind was opened to a whole new world of music. The hits just kept coming. The music had taken me to another place. I wasn't making plastic rings for washing machines. I was somewhere in the middle ages tracking a fucking dragon. I was walking to a castle to court a beautiful princess with dark make up and lily white skin. It was beautiful. "Prayers For Rain", "The Same Deep Water As You" the title track "Disintegration" and "Homesick." What a great song to end this tape. I was lost in it. I know it sounds like a bunch of shit but, after being force fed guitar solos that lasted longer than sex for most of my life I was listening to simple melodies. Music that was melodic. This music was more than showing off how fast your fingers can move up and down the neck of a guitar or how many notes you can force into a measure. It was slow. It was fucking beautiful.
I thought it was over so I flipped the cassette to have another listen and it was on like the second song already. Being hip to the new idea of hidden tracks I flipped it back over and fast forward to near the end of the tape and there it was. "Untitled." I was so fucking happy that it was there. What a nice surprise and the album ended the way it started. With a memorable tune. For me at least. The beginning of the song to me sounds like funeral music then it all changes in an instant you are grooving again. "Hopelessly adrift in the eyes of the ghost again" and just like that I was.
"Disintegration" is just one of those records that, I think, will never get old. It has the elements that make music great. It is easy to understand. It is not profound but has strokes of genius. It has simple melodies that are , as crazy as it sounds, melodic and the words are pure poetry.If you don't have it or you're just not a fan of The Cure. Give it a try. You just might like it.
Stay dialed in my friends.