Friday, April 5, 2013

Favorite Song Friday: Friday I'm In Love

I admit, back in the 80s, the Brits and their music just kinda eluded me.

No, not those Brits. Not the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the Who and the Kinks and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd all the others who came over with the initial British Invasion. Hell, that made up at least 75% of my musical formation back then. Still does – maybe not that high a number. But my love for the music from the UK in that era will never die. How could it?

I mean the other Brits. The ones who came a generation later. The ones who arrived on the scene with their own version of post punk, of pop, of alt and of new wave. I’m talking The Cure, The Jam, The Smiths, XTC, English Beat and all the others who came and dominated so much of the 80s scene.

By the time I was old enough (read: late high school and especially college) to really start exploring the studio with my musical leanings and leave my Beatles/Bruce/Dylan comfort zone, I admit I turned to our shores instead. I immersed myself in every single sound R.E.M. every made, I learned to worship at the Replacements’ altar. I was much more interested in what Bob Mould or The Smithereens had to say than Robert Smith or Morrissey. Hell, I even avoided U2 until Rattle and Hum made it simply impossible. And I’m Irish! (Well, half).

Was it smart? Nope. It was, in fact, the opposite of smart, for someone who prided himself as such a music fan to shut out this whole block of  wondrous artists. Which is to say, it was stupid.

It changed with Robyn Hitchcock, oddly enough. When I heard how much R.E.M. worshipped him, when I learned he was basically the evolutionary Syd Barrett, when I heard what he did by blending Beatles pop with a punk sneer and 80s production splendor, it dawned on me I wasn’t too good for this stuff. And I needed to listen up. Now.

But this isn’t about Robyn, delightful maniac though he is. Nah, that’s for another post.

This is about where he led me back to, and how he got me to give The Cure a chance. And it led to this sheer piece of refined gold.

Favorite Song Friday – “Friday I’m In Love” – The Cure

That’s right. I came to the 80s Brit scene in…1992.

Oh well.

Scott mentioned a couple weeks ago, as he wrote in this space about XTC’s “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” about that sound that starts it all, followed by that chord. And how much it means to the overall song.

Allow me to steal.

The way “Friday I’m In Love” starts, with an other-worldly arpeggio that sure, maybe we’ve heard a million times before, but it’s just so perfect in setting the scene for this straightforward love song. So much of rock-n-roll comes down to the beginning, the way a song kicks off. Think “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Purple Haze,” “Finest Worksong” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” “You Really Got Me” and “Pride.” Sometimes those first few seconds are the make or break moments.

Robert Smith and his mates do it with those few floating notes to open up “Friday I’m In Love.” It’s the gateway to the splendor ride the song takes us on. But all the promise, all the hope, every expectation we get out of the genre that is the love song can be found in those first few seconds.

What follows is pop perfection, something I’ve written about many times on these pages. But Smith literally walking us through his week of longing is the very picture of that very crystallized rock-n-roll virtue we first heard when Elvis checked into the Heartbreak Hotel: I want you, I need you, I love you. Now here are 1,000 reasons why.

“Friday I’m In Love” has it all, from the big stuff—such remarkably clever lyrics and storytelling, a melody line so perfectly resolved at every verse despite the lack of a chorus, and that ringing sound that the Cure made for their own, a sound that was always so sweet and so terrifying, so bleak and somehow so redeeming. It’s all there.

I don’t care if Monday’s blue
Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don’t care about you
It’s Friday I’m in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn’t even start
It’s Friday I’m in love

Saturday, wait
Sunday always comes to late
Friday never hesitates

I don’t care if Monday’s black
Tuesday Wednesday heart attack
Thursday never looking back
It’s Friday I’m in love

It doesn’t require complex geometric formulas to tell a story about being in love and staying in love. Sometimes it just has to be something as simple as a calendar. Robert Smith shows us how it’s done here. Does he ever.

And then there are the other touches. The way Boris Williams starts a tiny bit early at the outset on the drums, lending a sense of rush to it all. The delightful harmonies that come in on the “Friday I’m in love” line and nowhere else on the verses, and how they lends such a gorgeous luster to the full flourish on the “Saturday” mini-bridges.

But my favorite touch comes just after the 2 minute mark, where they add basically an entirely new movement to the song. A different tempo takes over for a brief while as the song goes to places totally off the initial rhythm line, places we never saw coming. Which in, say, a 9-minute song by Yes is not unusual. But in a 3 ½ minute pop song? Not easy to do.

Dressed up to the eyes
It's a wonderful surprise
To see your shoes and your spirits rise
Throwing out your frown
And just smiling at the sound
And as sleek as a sheik
Spinning round and round
Always take a big bite
It's such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night
You can never get enough
Enough of this stuff
It's Friday, I'm in love

I’m not sure the Cure has ever been accused of being “quirky.” But there are such irresistible little offbeat images tucked into there, almost as if Smith just had to get these words out, even though they don’t really seem to fit. “As sleek a sheik?” “A gorgeous site to see you eat in the middle of the night?” That’s adorable! When he finally admits “You can never get enough of this stuff,” we can see exactly what he means.

The final trick is what happens at the end of this little head over heels dalliance, when the song pretty much crashes back into the first verse, seamlessly. Somehow they make it work.

So there you are. Everything I love about music—great lyrics, wonderful band interplay, toying with structure, delectable melodies and a hook that plays over and over in your head long after the song has ended. All found here, thanks to a band I should have found half a decade earlier. But either way, late to the party though I was, I love it.

Which is apropos. It’s Friday, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that. It FINALLY served to drive out "Desperado" That some lug lodged into my ear-canal this morning.

    "Disintegration" Is definitely my favorite Cure album though.