I never achieved the same level of Cure obsession as some of my friends. My parents didn't let us watch MTV or even listen much to the radio when I was a kid in the '80s. By the time the restrictions lifted, I chose sides with the hair/glam metal scene and listening to The Cure would have required my jackass friends to administer a painful assbeating.
I grew out of (most) the hair metal and started discovering the brilliance of Robert Smith in the late '80s and early '90s, meaning I heard songs from Disintegration and Wish long before anything from Kiss Me... or Pornography. Depending on who you talk to, Wish was either a sellout dud or or crowning achievement. I adore the early material but I'm not wed to it so falling in love with Wish wasn't hard for me once I put safe distance between the bullies and me.
The best songs on Wish are "Open" and "End," the two songs that bookend the record. "End" didn't have the thick, sludgy sound of the grunge scene that was soon to inherit the airwaves but the first verse of the song sure as hell sounds like something that belonged on Nevermind or Facelift:
I think I've reached that point
where giving up and going on
are both the same dead end to me
both the same old song
I'm pretty sure Smith's lyrics weren't as much to do with living and dying as whether or not to continue the band, which he'd threatened to break up or retire in the neighborhood of 49 times already. Okay, he wasn't quite Brett Favre but there was a sense of ambivalence about the present and future state of the band when Wish was released, and the massive popularity of "Friday I'm In Love" exacerbated that. It would be years before they released another record.
The sad bastard in me always loved the first verse. It wasn't fatalistic or violent, it was resigned and so was I. It was a way of saying I'm too old to dream and too young to quit. My life wasn't filled with real hardships but it wasn't exactly a thrill a minute. The good times took their own sweet time, leaving me with too much time to think, wait, and wonder if they were going to reurn.
Fast forward 20 years and I feel that way less often. I'm more thankful today than ever for the blessings I've received and increasingly aware my troybles aren't even a blip in the scope of human suffering. I had it good then and still do but as birthday 38 approaches, it dawns on me the ride is just about half over and I'm restless. The old dreams -- rock and roll fantasies and athletic accolades -- were preposterous (especially if you've seen me try playing guitar or baseball) but those dreams had a poetry that lawns without crabgrass and saving a nickel a gallon on gas lack. Giving up and going on may not be the same dead end, but some days you can see them both from here.