California is gonna be rockin’ this weekend! It’s time for Coachella! For those of you not familiar with what the hell I’m talking about, it’s a three-day music and arts festival held annually in the Coachella Valley of Indio, California. And you should SEE the line-up. Yowza!
Well, last month we put together a SXSW Mix, and after the incredible response it got, and after seeing the actual line-up (I’ll say it again… YOWZA!), I just had to put one together for this festival as well.
Grab the mix in the Dig-It section below. For a full list of the artists performing at the festival, click here. For last minute flights to California, click here. For a money tree to miraculously appear in your backyard so you can afford to pay for that flight, click here…
A little while ago we featured another song by The Cure, “Lovesong,” in the Bit o’ Covers category (click here to check it out)… well, I guess we dug it so much that we’re doing another Cure tune today, their huge hit, “Just Like Heaven.”
I remember hearing the song for the first time… I had picked up their Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me record and was pretty amazed to hear how upbeat the record was. When “Just Like Heaven” came on, even my oldest brother had to sit down and take a listen. He had introduced me to The Cure… he had this “THIS is The Cure?” look on his face, but it slowly melted away as the song progressed. By the end, he looked at me and said, “Play that one again!” I didn’t, of course, which led to a boxing match between us. My mom then confiscated the record and told us that unless we apologized for REAL, we wouldn’t get the record back.
My mom still has that record tucked away somewhere.
Anyhow, I was able to enjoy “Just Like Heaven,” despite not having the record anymore, because once the song hit radio, it exploded and was just about everywhere you can imagine, even in my colon. “Just Like Heaven” hit the Top 40 and has since become on of The Cure‘s most popular songs. VH-1 puts the song at #22 on their 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s list, and Rolling Stone magazine places the song at #483 in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Personally, I place it at the #1 spot for my 500 Greatest Songs That Caused My Brothers and I to Fight list. Yes, my brothers and I disagreed a LOT on music.
To put it simply: I am cool, they are not.
Anyhow, “Just Like Heaven” was inspired by singer Robert Smith’s wife, Mary Poole, who was the inspiration to their other hit, “Lovesong.” I guess Smith was really proud of “Just Like Heaven,” because in an interview he gave to Blender.com, he calls it “the best pop song the Cure have ever done: All the sounds meshed, it was one take and it was perfect.”
Regarding the origins of the song, Smith explains that “In 1987, my wife, Mary, and I lived in a small two-bedroom flat in North London. The other room was my music room. Just about the only discipline I had in my life was self-imposed. I set myself a regimen of writing 15 days a month; otherwise I’d have just got up in mid-afternoon and watched TV until the pubs opened, then gone out drinking.”
He did a bang-up job writing, though, and by the time he finished the song, he was a happy camper. “I knew as soon as I’d written it that it was a good pop song,” Smith says in the Blender.com interview. “Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the structure is very similar to ‘Another Girl, Another Planet,’ by the Only Ones, which I can still vividly remember hearing on the radio late at night in the mid-’70s. The main difference is that as the song progressed, I introduced some different chord changes, which give it that slightly melancholic feeling.”
Here’s a live performance of “Just Like Heaven.” Man, I REALLY gotta get me a can of Aqua Net.
“Just Like Heaven” is a classic, there’s no two-ways about it. It has stood the test of time, and has been covered by numerous other artists. The song even made it into space… on July 16, 2006, the crew to the Space Shuttle Discovery woke up to “Just Like Heaven,” as chosen by astronaut Piers Sellers’ family. According to Foxnews.com, the song reminded him of “the wild, happy, drinking-beer years of my youth.”
Sit back and enjoy the cover versions posted below in the Dig-It section. I’m sure you’ll find one that fits your fancy, as they are all most enjoyable. I love what Ben Folds says about the song: “It sounded so new and different at the time it came out, and usually things that seem so new when you first hear them die a horrible death. But everything about it — the songwriting, the music — is state of the art. It’s as good as it gets. Anytime I hear it on the radio or a mix tape, I jump around like a freak.”
I’m gonna go take a listen and look like a freak. So should you. Because that’s what Roy Hobbs would tell you to do. And I’m Roy Hobbs.
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So we’ve finally made it to Valentine’s Day. It’s been a week-long celebration which has culminated to this day of days. I realize that most of the Valentine’s Day posts have been on the negative side, which is another good reason why this post is necessary. Love is a beautiful thing, and I tend to agree with Sameul Butler that said, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.” Sometimes pain is a sign that you’re finding your way home.
So to show that we’re not all about the depressing side of love, we bring you a Bit O’ Covers post that focuses on a touching love song titled (appropriately enough), “Lovesong.”
In the late 80’s, The Cure was riding high on the success of their single, “Just Like Heaven.” That song was a departure from the band’s dark and depressing style… they were suddenly a pop band, which was odd because they had never set out to BE a pop band. Their album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me became their first Top 40 record, which helped them gain a wider audience. The Cure‘s momentum was definitely building, and when it came time to record the follow up record, lead Cure guy Robert Smith hit the brakes and said, “Whoa!” He felt that The Cure was pulling away from their roots, and wanted to return to the Gothic form that they had established early on for themselves. He was also turning 30, which didn’t seem to agree with him.
Smith retreated and began to write songs that took a darker path… this collection ended up to become their eighth studio album, Disintegration. Because of this sudden turn to the dark side, the band’s label thought the album would be career suicide. I guess they felt that the new audience would only accept the happier, more pop-oriented music The Cure was pumping out. Well, they were wrong (but also right… I’ll explain later) as the album went on to sell over three million copies, making it their best selling album to date. The success of this record can be attributed to some strong singles, most notably “Lovesong.”
The reason why I say that the record label was also right in their assessment of Disintegration is because of the fact that “Lovesong” stands out from the rest of the album in that it’s a pop song that falls in line with songs like, “Just Like Heaven,” and their hit from The Head on the Door, “Close to Me.”
Smith included the song in the album because, as he explains, “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’.”
Here’s an excellent live performance of the tune from 2001:
How do you get your hair to do that????
Even though Smith throws “Lovesong” in with the “happier” side of Disintegration, I’ve always found the song to be incredibly sad for some reason. This is perhaps because the recording sounds like Smith is singing to someone who has either passed away or has moved on. He sounds longing, reaching, and altogether broken hearted. I simply don’t hear any joy in his voice. There’s a beauty in this sadness, though… maybe that’s the attraction?
“Lovesong” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and remains their highest charter. It’s been covered numerous times (as you can see below in the Dig-It section) and although many of the cover versions are good, none quite match the depths of the original.
I totally dig Tori Amos‘ version. It’s sparse and lets the beautiful melody carry the entire song. She tries too hard at times to sound passionate, though, but that’s all a matter of taste. Death Cab for Cutie does a great job with their performance… they don’t stray too far from the original, which is a smart move with this song. To me, it’s important to capture or retain the simplicity and delicate quality of “Lovesong.” Push it too hard and you lose that flavor… you’ll find a couple of performances below that, in my opinion, don’t quite hit the mark. I’m not too sure what Tool and A Perfect Circle were thinking when they put together their version.
And maybe someday I’ll discover what Snake River Conspiracy were trying to achieve with their cover… maybe. I’m not quite sure what to make of the way they changed the last line of the last chorus. It kind of ruins the sentiment.
That’s ok, though, because when it comes to covers, it all boils down to interpretation. Everybody hears a song in their own specific way.
So pick your favorite version from below and give it to your loved one tonight. It’s bound to get an “Awwww, how sweet!” reaction and you’ll earn a bunch of brownie points. Robert Smith probably got a gazillion brownie points for writing “Lovesong” to his bride-to-be. I once had a professor that asked the class, “Would you rather have a poem or song written for you as a present, or would you rather get a new car?” Amazingly enough, most of the class said they’d like the new car. I wonder what Smith’s wife would say to those people?
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