I haven’t done one of these posts for a Cure song yet because, well, The Cure are a big band and they have a lot of live material online and most of their classic songs have been covered many, many times. In other words – too much work. But I’m going to give it a go with one of my favourite Cure songs, which thankfully is not one of those with a million versions to sift through.
I was 16 when Wish came out. It was the first Cure record I heard, and I heard it a lot because it was huge (aside: why is this not available on vinyl? Their early records have been reissued countless times in recent years, but one of their biggest records hasn’t been pressed in 30 years. What gives?). And while the second single from the record was the massive one – you know the one – my favourite track was the third and final single, “A Letter To Elise”, which spoke right to my emo-before-emo-was-a-thing teenage heart.
This video claims to document the band – billed as “Five Imaginary Boys” – debuting the song at a secret gig at London’s Town and Country Club on January 17, 1991:
The timing is certainly plausible, as the song made its public debut a week later when The Cure recorded an MTV Unplugged session in London. It was aired on March 3, 1991, though a companion album was never released like it was for many other Unplugged shows:
A live version of “Elise” did make it onto an official live release, though, as part of the Wish-era Paris album in July 1993. It documented the band’s show at Le Zénith in October 1992:
The song disappeared from live setlists in 1997, and didn’t reappear until 2005, so let’s not take for granted this video from that tour in support of their 2004 self-title, taken in Avenches, Switzerland:
As for covers… well there’s this one by Blink 182 at the 2004 MTV Icon show saluting the band. Because I don’t know why. Also, apologies for the inadvertent Marilyn Manson appearance.
Want to record your own? There’s a full band arrangement tabbed out at Songsterr. Have at it.