Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Irreligious Song #4: The Cure “Where the Birds Always Sing”

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on October 9, 2010

Robert Smith of The Cure is a huge fan of French literature, especially the Existentialists like Sartre and Camus. Evidence of this can be found throughout The Cure’s musical catalog, but the following song includes a nice summary of the ABCs of existentialist thought.

“Where The Birds Always Sing”

The world is neither fair nor unfair
The idea is just a way for us to understand
But the world is neither fair nor unfair
So one survives
The others die
And you always want a reason why

But the world is neither just nor unjust
It’s just us trying to feel that there’s some sense in it
No, the world is neither just nor unjust
And though going young
So much undone
Is a tragedy for everyone

It doesn’t speak a plan or any secret thing
No unseen sign or untold truth in anything…
But living on in others, in memories and dreams
Is not enough
You want everything
Another world where the sun always shines
And the birds always sing
Always sing…

The world is neither fair nor unfair
The idea is just a way for us to understand
No the world is neither fair nor unfair
So some survive
And others die
And you always want a reason why

But the world is neither just nor unjust
It’s just us trying to feel that there’s some sense in it
No, the world is neither just nor unjust
And though going young
So much undone
Is a tragedy for everyone

It doesn’t mean there has to be a way of things
No special sense that hidden hands are pulling strings
But living on in others, in memories and dreams
Is not enough
And it never is
You always want so much more than this…

An endless sense of soul and an eternity of love
A sweet mother down below and a just father above
For living on in others, in memories and dreams
Is not enough
You want everything
Another world
Where the birds always sing
Another world
Where the sun always shines
Another world
Where nothing ever dies…

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13 Responses to “Irreligious Song #4: The Cure “Where the Birds Always Sing””

  1. Bob said

    Go ahead Joel, see if you can find a Johnny Cash/The Cure connection. I’m willing to bet you can’t…

    • JN said

      I knew when I saw this song, that my work would be cut out for me.

      • JN said

        I’m not sure what’s up with that comma in my sentence. I can’t find a good connection.

        • Bob said

          I definitely noticed that comma but chose to shut up. I hate it when people point out punctuation errors like Pavlovian dogs. But…if you were following the grammar “rule” incorrectly passed on by ignorant elementary school teachers (and high school teachers too, sadly), then you were probably putting “a comma where there is a pause in the sentence.” It doesn’t take too many seconds of pondering to realize that different dialects of English places pauses in different areas, so the rule (if it were real) would lead to comma chaos.

          As for the Cure/Cash connection, here is the best I can do: Reznor and Smith have met and had conversations several times, and Reznor had his song redone by Cash. That’s the closest I can come, since The Cure’s post-punk/goth/Brit pop/psychedelic sound has very few connections to Cash’s style and influences. Thankfully, Cash didn’t mangle a Cure song like he did Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” Whenever I hear Cash sing that, I picture a dying guy who has to occasionally reach for the oxygen tank. Still, I do like that he was unable to rip the sexuality out of the song: it makes the song creepy to hear from an old guy, and it warms my English major heart to see such a didactic interpretation fail so miserably to censor and “clean up” a blasphemous song.

          • Ann said

            Correct comma placement, and youth, are overrated. Sure, Johnny appears sexier as a young guy, but I’m guessing his charisma was with him until he died. Personally I think life experience makes people sexier. Not so much into the innocent and naive thing Dave Gahan is into. Lolita stuff.

          • JN said

            I think Johnny Cash would feel comfortable with the sexuality in the song. He was an interesting guy.

            As for a connection, The Cure covered Depeche Mode’s “World In My Eyes.” I’m sure there are a number of connections like that.

            I’m surprised country bands haven’t covered The Cure’s “Killing an Arab.”

            • Ann said

              I love that song–“World In My Eyes” is my favorite DM song.

              You too funny JN…can you imagine lol! Maybe Johnny Cash could pull it off though? If anyone could it would be him.

  2. Ann said

    “But the world is neither just nor unjust
    It’s just us trying to feel that there’s some sense in it
    No, the world is neither just nor unjust
    And though going young
    So much undone
    Is a tragedy for everyone

    It doesn’t speak a plan or any secret thing
    No unseen sign or untold truth in anything…
    But living on in others, in memories and dreams
    Is not enough
    You want everything
    Another world where the sun always shines
    And the birds always sing
    Always sing…”

    Beautiful. The Cure is unique, both in their music and lyrics. It’s about letting go and acceptance. Think some people lack the courage for it, so they hide behind the “Truth”. The Truth provides an out. The longing for something else, even if just to join “the universe” is too strong, and the alternative too painful to accept. So the world is white washed.

    Letting go of God in life is kinda like being a soldier on a mission without the authority hierarchy pushing you to action. It’s a process experienced alone.

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