Continuing our "Friday We're In Love (With The Cure)" series Josh and I decided to switch things up just a little and instead of picking two different songs we're writing on the same song which I picked as a special song close to my heart for silly and not so
silly reasons. "High" was the first single from the album Wish and I have so many vivid memories from not only this song but, the album itself. The interestingly weird artwork that looks deceptively simple at first glance is still one of the coolest covers I've ever seen. This album and Disintegration are seminal Cure albums for me as the ones that influenced me the most immediatley and left the longest impressions.
At first listen "High" sounds like a little like "Just Like Heaven" in the beginning and its chimes and jangly guitar mislead you into believing this is an upbeat song. The childlike word play "When I see you sky as I kite, as high as I might" further lend itself to this misunderstanding until you get to the meat of the song with "...to think I could've let you go." This is a love letter to someone he has a lot of love and affection for and has spent a lot of time watching and breathing in her moves and motives.
"When I see you take the same sweet steps you used to take, I say I'll keep holding you my arms so tight, I'll never let you slip away" make me think he's already lost her because I hear regret and maybe a tinge of desperation in these lines. I love this song so much and while I was in high school when I heard it I feel the line "And when I see you happy as a girl, that lives in a world of make-believe" was written for me, makes perfect sense and describes me more than myself or even the closest person in my life ever could.
I spend a lot of time pouring over Robert Smith's lyrics because that's where the strength and mystique of The Cure and almost all of their songs lies for me but this song never slows down or lets go as the bass, drums and guitars propell it forward to its sweet end where we once again get the lilting wind chime sound. This song is ethereal, quirky and altogether amazing, and deserves three and a half minutes of your time right now, even if you have it imprinted on your heart like I do.
Some people don't like repeatedly listening to the same song; I do. I go into a trance and meditate on a single song or a passage- the way a note bends, chords progress, guitars are layered, a word is sung. I can lock in and stay in that place for hours on end. I deconstruct it and pick out brilliant flourishes and reassemble it and consider its chemistry.
I started free associating, compiling a list of favorite lines and sounds as I listened to the song on repeat. I was astonished at the length of my list for a 3 1/2 minute song. I actually considered posting that list so you could go listen for them- something of an aural "Where's Waldo?" game. I decided against that when it occurred to me 1) that wasn't a very good idea and 2) for all the magic contained in this song, it's the last 30 seconds that make me want to hear the whole thing again (and again).
There's no denying the presence of gloom and despair in many of The Cure's signature songs but it's wrong to dismiss them as sadsacks. In "High," Robert Smith is spellbound by a magical girl who reaches out a soft hand for his and pulls him effortlessly into orbit. He looks towards the heavens and this incredible girl who gives him lift and life but he's afraid of heights. One eye is fixated on his angel and their ascent while the other fears gravity's pull and looks toward the ground and the sickening thought of his hand slipping through her ethereal grasp, falling...
What happens in those last 30 seconds? Mystery. Hope. Flight. Smith repeats a refrain from earlier in the song but this time he sounds like he means it and the motion in the music emboldens him but he doesn't resolve this with saccharine sentiment. There is still the thrill and threat of danger as he and his love leave the atmosphere. Will they make it? He's sure of it. Isn't he?
"... and when I see you take the same sweet steps you used to take
I know I'll keep on holding you in arms so tight they'll never let you go..."