Iterations: The Cure – “Lovesong”

Iterations: The Cure – “Lovesong”

I appreciate how the automatic subtitles for this one on YouTube open with “Pensive post-punk music”. Yes, it is.

Happy Valentine’s Day from The Cure! The third single from their 1989 opus Disintegration is probably one of their most famous and beloved, and was maybe the first Cure song I ever heard. It remains one of my favourites after all these years; the descending guitar riff was one of the first things I learned to play on electric guitar. No, it’s not hard at all.

The background and trivia of the song, as disclosed by Robert Smith in interviews over the years, have been well-summarized by Far Out; it was written as a gift to his life-long love Mary for their wedding in 1998. As he told Select in 1991:

I gave Mary a tape of it for a wedding present. She went away to the other room to listen to it, then smothered me with kisses.

Robert Smith
Select, 1991 via The Story Behind The Song: The Cure’s ode to enduring romance, ‘Lovesong’ @ Far Out

And he also gave his thoughts on how its inclusion affected the mood of Disintegration to Jeff Apter for his 2005 book Never Enough: The Story Of The Cure, recounted in Classic Pop:

That one song, I think, makes many people think twice. If that song wasn’t on the record, it would be very easy to dismiss the album as having a certain mood. But throwing that one in sort of upsets people a bit because they think, ‘That doesn’t fit’.

Robert Smith
Never Enough: The Story Of The Cure via Making The Cure: Disintegration @ Classic Pop

The video, with Smith brooding in a cave, is also a classic:

Though as this behind-the-secenes video shows, it wasn’t actually a cave (shock!). The piece is in German, but the interviews with Smith are in English.

There’s also some great photos at the very vintage Pictures Of You archive site, which is built in frames and utterly unlinkable. Go to Photos > 1989 > July/August-1989 – Love Song VIDEO; there’s photos and recollections from keyboardist Roger O’Donnell:

I remember this video shoot very well it was shot right in the middle of the break between the European and American legs of the prayer tour Summer 1989. Of course nobody was particularly excited about giving up a day of their time off and especially for a song none of us thought was going to be a hit ! We were of course all completely wrong as it was The Cure’s most successful single ever, reaching number 2 in the U.S. Tim Pope originally wanted to shoot the video in Cheddar Gorge, a cave in the west of England, but couldn’t get permission so he had to recreate it in a studio in London . Richard, the art director ( standing next to the wigs in the photo ) made all the stalagmites from a combination of polystyrene and plaster and then sprayed them … I’ve still got a piece at home. I had my own cave off to one side so once I’d done my shots I was finished whilst Robert spent the rest of the day having water dripped all over him . That’s Paul Cox in the middle, our long time photographer , he was there to do some stills for the 1990 Cure calendar. All in all one of the more painless of Tim’s videos to make ….. Roger

Roger O’Donnell @ Pictures Of You

Of course, it’s staple of their live shows. Here’s the version from 40 Live, recorded at Hyde Park in London in July 2018:

It was also one of the selections in their mini-set for the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony:

Happily, as one of the band’s most-covered songs, I don’t feel the need to be thorough and I’ll just post a few of the ones I like (or by artists I like… or just artists I know).

Death Cab For Cutie recorded a version for the 2009 edition of Sweetheart, a Valentine’s Day CD compilation series tie-in from Starbucks and man are those words you don’t really hear these days.

And the late aughts were a ripe time for “Lovesong” covers; the 2008 Just Like Heaven: A Tribute To The Cure compilation featured an appropriately twee version from New Zealand popsters The Brunettes:

British electro-gazers The Big Pink recorded a version in 2009 for The Cure: Pictures Of You, an NME cover CD compilation to coincide with The Cure’s winning their “Godlike Genius” award for that year:

And an unknown singer-songwriter going by Adele included a version on her 2011 record 21, which ended up doing quite well and also spawned a thousand wannabe YouTube home versions:

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