Friday Jukebox – Boys Don’t Cry

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Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    Maybe slightly related to the OP’s subject: Robert Smith’s songs are often pretty slippery with regard to gender – one of the things that I noticed early on with The Cure was the way that the he/she/you/I pronouns in his songs often seemed “off”, or unclear, or different than I would have expected (“Icing Sugar” is a good example – “I’ll empty you, as empty as a boy can be”). I found this both disconcerting, and really intriguing.

    When I bought the reissues (I got them for super-cheap at a store that was going out of business – I swear I had no intent to re-buy these albums again), the bonus discs have demo versions of a lot of the songs, just Smith and a drum machine on 4-track.

    What I found interesting was that the initial demo versions of the songs were often more traditionally-gendered pop songs – a male narrator, presumably proxy for Smith, singing to a female subject.

    Sometime between demo and final recording, Smith would mess with the pronouns, switching things around and creating various scenarios that were not as straightforward (pun partially intended) or typical for pop songs.

    Comments on the video/band: Great video – simple concept, well-executed, the shadows of the actual band members behind the boys.

    (Yes, I had this poster on my bedroom door for many years. )

    I really liked this part of the Pitchfork review of the Three Imaginary Boys reissue :

    as original a record as anything else to spin off from the tail end of punk. These recordings are spare and simple– just three guys in a room playing clean, clear lines and letting them ring. And yet everything snaps together like clockwork, from the ingenious songwriting to the precise performances to the decades-long thrill of Smith’s voice. This is the simplicity of punk gone suddenly complex and spooky and sneakily psychedelic

    I read an interview with Britt Daniel of Spoon and he mentioned how much he’d listened to 3 IB; that made total sense to me, that skeletal economy & use of negative space in the songs, with just a touch of trippy in the production.Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph
      Ignored
      says:

      I have, at times, been struck by the seemingly odd gender pronouns in Cure songs. It’s interesting to hear that that might be intentional.

      It also reminds me of something my wise and beautiful wife once did. She was giving a sermon and purposefully switched between the male and female pronouns throughout just to try to jar people out of the default ‘he’-ness of which we tend to speak of God.

      Yes, I’m equating Robert Smith to my wife, and I’m okay with that.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t think I knew your wife was a pastor.

        Man, talk about a double-whammy when you guys get in a marital argument; she’s got the Big G on *her* side. 😉

        Morrissey was also very purposeful (and IIRC has said so in interviews, this isn’t just an observation I made) about writing Smiths songs with indeterminate gender. He almost always left genders ambiguous; even if the narrator is addressing a “boy” or “girl”, the gender of the narrator is never clarified. He wanted those songs to be potentially for everybody.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve not actually heard of this bill, which is a bit odd since I’ve a close friend who’s transgendered and I’m pretty sure she’s not heard of the bill either. Well, okay, actually she’s not exactly someone who follows the news. Anyway, what does it do?Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s a little under the radar, except of course for those who oppose it.

      It intends to extend all protections against discrimination to the transgendered. It would ensure that the transgendered aren’t merely judged based on their genitalia. Recently (a few months ago, I think) there was a story about a transgendered woman who was a prison guard who had to fight to be able to show up for work as a female. So this bill is rather timely.

      Interestingly, after the prison administrators fought hard against it, the rest of the prison guards and the inmates were quite supportive of the transition.

      (See, even Canadian criminals are polite!)Report

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