Posts Tagged ‘meaning’


Following on our observation that Song Lyrics are Poetry,

The Platonist is going to blog the Cure.  More specifically, the Cure’s lyrics.

Actually, I would like eventually to blog about a dozen other alternative bands from the heyday of alternative music as well, as part of a project to raise the status of alternative music as an art form.  In short, I want to make the point that alternative music is worthy of inclusion amongst the highest ranks of the western (now global) canon.  (And, I have also finished two major books and am doing this to relax, and, I’ve wanted to do this for twenty years.)

By blogging the Cure, I mean doing a literary analysis of the lyrics.  That is, treating the lyrics as though they were poems, a form of literature, which will hold up to sustained analysis.  Literary analysis is worth doing, as tens of thousands of brilliant literary critics will tell you, because there is much to be learned from literature, and criticism enriches the experience of those who are concerned about the work in question.

We won’t get into the question of why literature and music matters.  This is self evident, because many of the best of us spend most of our free time with these media.  In brief, literature is arguably as useful as philosophy, because it gets at the subtleties of human interaction better than any other medium.  Poetry, in its turn, reveals truths that cannot be expressed in any other way.  And ditto music.

The Cure has been chosen because I believe it is one of the bands of the alternative movement whose lyrics have more qualities of literature than most.  Over the course of blogging, we will see precisely how well this hypothesis holds up.

As I will explain, while I have some knowledge of music theory and music history, my strengths lie much more in the realm of textual criticism.  So the music, while appreciated, will receive incidental treatment.  But I argue that while many have analysed the music, very few serious critics have seriously engaged with the lyrics, with the result that many of the more obvious connotations of the lyrics remain to be discovered and appreciated.

Is it legit to mostly just analyse the lyrics?  The argument is that the modern pop song is a unique genre of art.  It is a thorough hybrid of music and lyrics, and both are essential to appreciating the whole.  For that reason, songs with lyrics can always be better appreciated if the lyrics are understood more fully both in terms of the meaning of the song itself, its relation to other songs on the album, and its relation to the oeuvre of the artist as a whole.

My method will be to go song by song, but also to treat each album as a work in itself.  Since artists before 2000 thought of albums as their principal ”art delivery system” and since albums were taken by both artists and the public as a holistic whole, this approach is defensible.

For the moment, we will blog one song per week, with Friday as the posting date.  Please spread the word, if you begin to like what you see.  The Cure’s earliest lyrics are simpler, but they quickly build to something worth paying closer attention to.  We will begin with their first album, Three Imaginary Boys (1979), and go in order.  We might do some incidental (non-album) songs from each period, as well.  The aim is to continue through Wish (1992).

Ciao for now, and until Friday.  -The Platonist.




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