The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’

is one song of many that gives me that tingly, time-slipping-away-from-me feeling about which I’ve previously written. Sometimes I’m surprised at what songs will do it. Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’, Yaz’s ‘Situation’, Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’, to name a few.

I first heard the album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me while at the Dearings’ house one summer afternoon in Alameda. Their oldest daughter, Bethany (15 to my 12), was the moddest of the mods in our Naval housing development, a true “skate betty” if you will. She had all the great modern rock tapes of the early to mid 80s, Cure albums included. I wasn’t a big Cure fan growing up. They didn’t creep me out like Love & Rockets (more specifically Daniel Ash), but I just didn’t much get The Cure at 12 or 15 or even 18. Except for ‘Just Like Heaven’. Bethany played KM, KM, KM and I heard that song for the first time – and caught the video late that night on the MTV – and thought it was pretty and well-crafted and a emotive tune. I only heard it those 2 times that 1 day. I didn’t get a copy of Bethany’s tape to listen to over and over. Somehow I missed hearing the song on Live 105. In fact, I didn’t hear that song again until just before my senior year of high school when we moved to Olather and got the MTV again after 3 years of living in the country without. Oh, I’d heard The Cure plenty since then as Disintegration and Wish had been released in the interim and it seemed like everyone I knew had a copy of Wish. But one night that summer before senior year I caught the video for ‘Just Like Heaven’ on 120 Minutes and remembered how much I liked that song way back when (or what seemed like way back when – it was only a 5-year span: summer of ’87-summer of ’92). It gave me that tingly feeling that I’ve now come to realize as the feeling of traveling through time. Hell, even listening to Dinosaur Jr.’s version of ‘Just Like Heaven’ gives me that feeling.

I don’t really have any grand point or dramatic theme with this post. I just heard ‘Just Like Heaven’ on the radio this morning and it did what it always does – sent me back in time. Maybe that’s the point of this post: that time seems more collapsed these days, and while it doesn’t seem to take so much to get to 2001 from 2006 as it once did to get from 1992 to 1987, 1987 still seems an absolute eternity from 2006. Seems insane to think ‘Just Like Heaven’ is almost 20 years old and The Cure have been making albums for only slightly less longer than I’ve been alive. And it’s probably a bit insane to have music act upon you as such a forceful time machine. If so, you can call me crazy. I’ll have on my headphones and won’t be able to hear you anyway.

The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’

8 thoughts on “The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’

  1. ha!
    well, try to keep 311 off that mug too. all their songs sound exactly the same: boring as fuck. funny thing – when i first heard 311 they reminded me of urban dance squad and that endeared me to them quite a bit. as they released more albums i thought that the first 2 albums sounded sooooooooooo different from anything released subsequently, but this afternoon, jason from the buzz is playing an hour of 311 and it all sounds the same and is lulling me to sleep. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. sarah says:

    that song is also one of the touchstone songs for me. Not so much about time, though appreciate your take on on that, but more about longing. There are poems that do that for me, movies (any character study from the direty 70s) and songs…and just like heaven manifests that same longing for something I’ve never known, for an idea that i never quite grasped, for an experience i’ve not yet had. something like the uncanny. was that lacan? i always connected with the uncanny in that way. anyway thanks for picking that song.

  3. Chris says:

    3-1-1 are a joke in your town….

    I vivdly remember taking a stack of 311 CD’s to Recycled Sounds not long after “All Mixed UP” started blaring out of every car passing by…

    I can’t think of another band I went from loving to hating so fast, and so passionately. 311 at the Jayhawk Music Festival in like 96 or something like that was epic. Now, like Everclear…they may be appearing next at the Voodoo Lounge no doubt…playing tripe like “Amber” and their disgusting version of “Lovesong” for an Adam Sandler movie.

    Amber is the color of your energy? Huh??

  4. an interesting thing to me is that i had an initial curiosity about the song, prior to any other associations. now, obviously, i associate the song with a particular time, place and state of mind and that reinforces my feelings for the music…but when i first heard ‘just like heaven’, or other songs that now make me time travel, something about them grips me right off the bat and usually imprints upon me those secondary associations. it’s hard to say what about a given song might be doing that because i time travel just as easily to marky mark and the funky bunch’s ‘good vibrations’ as i do to ‘just like heaven’.

    with regards to 311 – when the blue album first came out i thought the reason their sound seemed to change so much was because they were smoking way too many kind nugs. the pot seemed to neuter them. now when i go back and listen to those first two albums – having what – 4 albums since then to have our ears subjected? – all i hear is that boring, psuedo-reggae-whatever-it-is sound. i don’t hear any of the energy i once did.
    it surprises me that 311 is as popular as ever. they’re headlining the show at verizon tomorrow. that seems crazy to me that they can still draw that kind of crowd…instead of playing the voodoo.

  5. Chris says:

    Ok. Wow. You can just refer to me henceforth as Mr. Out-of-Touch…. I had no idea they were headlining at Verizon. That is indeed insane. Who is listening to them?? It’s rare to see a band get progressively worse like 311. Everclear is the other band that comes immediately to mind. As well as Tricky maybe looking at a less popular artist…each album seeing the creative well run dry.

    311 always seemed to have two sides…the energetic “Down” side…and, as you said, that pseudo-reggae “All Mixed Up” side. And once “All Mixed Up” became their ‘big hit’ that’s the side that won out.

    I remember watching The Cure perform “Just Like Heaven” on the 1987 MTV music awards, their first ever nationally televised appearance. I’ve always loved that song, but always felt like it was stuck on a subpar album by Cure standards up to that point. But “Just Like Heaven” represents a great time for music…you started getting alternative radio stations popping up, you had 120 minutes and Alternative Nation on MTV.

  6. good call on the ever-sucking sound of tricky. what the hell happened to that guy? maxinquaye was so fucking rad.

    km, km, km is too damned long. they could’ve trimmed that album and produced something more solid. i mean, ‘the head on the door’ is all over the map stylistically yet it coheres and feels complete to me. (granted, that’s my favorite of their albums.) km, km, km, (though i like it) almost seems like another collection of singles and b-sides.

  7. Chris says:

    What happenend to Tricky? Man, I loved Maxinquay, and I think I’m one of the few that liked Pre-Millenium Tension even more. Then there was Angels With Dirty Faces which was bad, but you thought ehhhh, maybe just a mis-step. I mean, who coulda imagined a Tricky/PJ Harvey collaboration going so horribly wrong?? Then I guess he wanted to cross over into RB and Hip Hop and you got his disastrous collaboration with DJ Muggs. Then, dear lord…he hooked up with Live’s Ed Kowalczyk and well….anyone can connect the dots and discern where your career is going from there…ugh.

    Km, km, km is too long. And for me it’s the quirky crap that I could do without. I cannot stand “Hot, Hot, Hot” and “Why Can’t I Be You”. Km, km, km would be a great album if you edit out about 4-5 songs. I think they fixed that of course with Disintegration and Wish.