The Cure’s “Burn”

I wasn’t planning on a second post for this chilly, rainy, gloomy Saturday afternoon/evening. But I was thinking about some of the other tracks on “The Crow” soundtrack. My previous post focused on Nine Inch Nails’ cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls,” which remains one of the standouts from that 1994 film. It’s been awhile since I listened to any of these songs, and I realized I had some footage of The Cure performing “Burn” back in 2016 at the Hollywood Bowl. Well, this is as good an excuse as any to post that footage, as well as reminisce about one of my longtime favorite Cure songs. So let’s get to it …

The story goes that “The Crow” comic creator James O’Barr is a huge Cure fan (likewise with Joy Division), and included the lyrics to a different Cure song, “The Hanging Garden,” in his graphic novel. This was the original selection for inclusion in the film. But Cure frontman Robert Smith offered instead to write and record an original song, because he took a liking to the material. I’m sure having your lyrics reprinted in a groundbreaking graphic gothic comic work can be quite persuasive. But Smith isn’t off base, and “The Crow” remains a seminal creative mark in both comic and film pop culture.

I love the percussive blister of “The Hanging Garden,” and it’s accompanying album “Pornography,” which still holds as one of my favorites. But I find it difficult to picture in the cinematic context of “The Crow.” It’s such a specific work, with a bruising intensity and bleakness in tone. It’s theme appropriate, yet musically mismatched. So I can see why Smith would offer to pen an original track, even if he himself felt “The Hanging Garden” would fit. See for yourself if you agree …

“The Hanging Garden” from the 1982 album “Pornography.”

“Burn,” on the other hand, feels tapped into the visuals of “The Crow.” There’s definite inspiration and love for the material. And it syncs beautifully with the imagery of character Eric Draven, resurrected from the grave, assuming the identity of revenger, driven somewhat insane, yet focused with sheer determination and will to restore the balance of justice for the wrong done to him. If that doesn’t make sense, just check out the film. It’s a classic of the mid-’90s, when style still meant something, comic-based films could be unapologetically R-rated, and visual effects still had to rely on good-old fashion in-camera gags rather than a sweatshop of computer workstations. But I digress …

Musically, “Burn” carries a bit of “The Hanging Garden” spirit, but sounds closer to something like “Fascination Street.” There’s the trademark heavyset bassline and drums, synced in a percussive powerhouse groove, strengthened with otherworldly rhythms that feel in line with many earlier efforts. Smith’s guitar-craft is also classic Cure, melodic, moody, layered, textured and spread across spatial planes, somewhere between melancholy and bliss.

A bit of trivia states that just Smith and drummer Boris Williams, who’s since departed, wrote and recorded “Burn” in a marathon two days. Apparently, the band’s line-up was undergoing a period of transition, so the two opted to bang it out themselves … which to me, just further affirms why I still continue to love The Cure.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard it before, here’s the result of that effort … “Burn” by The Cure (or at least two of its members).

The Cure’s “Burn” from the 1994 soundtrack to “The Crow.”

And as I mentioned earlier, this whole “Crow” kick, which originally got started from a friend’s text, lead me to digging up The Cure’s live rendition of “Burn” from 2016’s Hollywood Bowl show. I was sitting in the Super Seats, which are mostly centered and comfortable, yet surprisingly not as close as you’d think, given the name. So the footage is appropriately distant.

Nonetheless, it’s The Cure. And after 40 years, it’s a blessing just to see them still going at it. So I’ll leave you with this clip. And time permitting, I might even get around to posting more from this performance. After rewatching “Burn,” I’m definitely feeling the inspiration. Enjoy!

The Cure perform “Burn” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 05.22.16.