100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #69 The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry

Released : 1979

All publicity is good publicity, at least if you’re trying to sell a new band with no tangible image, one which was all smooth surfaces and that possessed only a distant, monochrome warmth. The Cure emerged from the suburbia of Crawley – Munch’s The Scream in bricks and concrete form – with their first single Killing An Arab, a song on which the then teenagers had based on Albert Camus’ The Stranger. Wiry, lo-fi and spiked with eastern guitar motifs, it was largely unremarkable, but in a year when The National Front candidate took over 6% of the vote in the Lambeth Central by-election, not being able to anticipate the fall out was at best naive.

The track was excluded from their debut Three Imaginary Boys, of which an unimpressed Paul Morley opined in the NME that ‘Nowhere is there anything alarming, nowhere is there anything truly adventurous.’ On it principal songwriter Robert Smith explained that each song “represents a distilled emotion”, with Boys Don’t Cry as much as about the psychological impact of locked in masculinity as it was the end of a relationship. It was also the best tune The Buzzcocks never wrote.

Change was coming however. Speaking to veteran journalist Nick Kent even before Three Imaginary Boys release, Smith already had a forward vision for The Cure at odds with it’s straightforward articulation, one that he could only describe as “Both lyrically and musically, it’s more fragmented… I go through changes every three months.” With the blows of ignorance behind them, the fog of a new decade beckoned.

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