Hi 5

Robert Smith

The Cure

Australian Rolling Stone
December 1993

These five songs changed my life emotionally as well as musically. I can spot influences from each of these in the Cure. Never anything too overt, though, because that would be pointless just trying to copy someone else.

Purple Haze : By Jimi Hendrix (from Are You Experienced?)

It's the first Hendrix song I heard. I remember my brother bringing it home in 1967 when I was 8. I was just awestruck by it. I must have played it 20 times a day. I drove everyone in the house mad! I learnt everything about it - not to play on guitar, but just to sing. I learnt to sing all the drum parts, the bass, the guitar solo.... I was just obsessed by it! It's remained with me ever since.

Time Has Told Me : By Nick Drake (from Five Leaves Left)

The first time I heard Nick Drake I was 10 years old, so I was just becoming aware of the real world outside of the home. I used to listen to that album Five Leaves Left and it used to make me think about things. It was just background music sometimes to periods of reflection. I turn to that album particularly in moments of great stress on tour. It puts everything in perspective for me.

He's everything I aspire to in understated, mood songwriting and singing. He genuinely felt everything he sang about and wasn't worried about what people thought of him. He wasn't worried about being famous...Nick Drake's on the other side of the coin to Jimi Hendrix. He was very quiet and withdrawn.

I think also that because he had an untimely death like Jimi Hendrix, he was never able to compromise his early work. He was never able to put a foot wrong. It's a morbid romanticism, but there is something attractive about that.

Starman : By David Bowie (from Ziggy Stardust)

I don't think Bowie genuinely has any feeling left for what he's doing. I couldn't listen to Tin Machine, I thought it was so abysmal! It's hopeless compared with what he was doing in the '70's. He just completely lost it.

I love everything from Space Oddity through to Low. Without exception, every album is brilliant and masterful. Each time a Bowie album came out, it really captured the mood of that year for me. Certain songs trigger certain memories for me.

With Starman, he was the first glam artist to appear on Top Of The Pops, and every person in Britain who saw that performance, it's stuck with them. It's like Kennedy being shot [was] for another generation. You just remember that night watching David Bowie on TV. It really was a formative, seminal experience.

The Faith Healer : By The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (from Next)

The first time I heard Alex Harvey I was 15. It was the first group I followed....in fact the only group I ever followed. He was probably my only real idol. I travelled around the country to see them. It was a really brilliant year.

People talk about Iggy Pop as the original punk but certainly in Britain the forerunner of the punk movement was Alex Harvey. His whole stage show with the graffiti covered brick walls...it was like very aggressive Glaswegian street theatre.

With Faith Healer, it was the first time I felt, "here's a group of my generation". Even though Alex was quite an old man, and another one who had an untimely death, there was a relevance in what he was doing and he attracted a very weird audience...ranging from people my age right up to people in their mid-forties. It was the first time I'd felt the power of music and how it could attract people from very disparate walks of life and draw them altogether. For that hour and a half you could actually lose yourself completely. I remembered the power of that live performance and I've tried to have that in my mind since I started up my own group.

Anarchy In The U.K. : By the Sex Pistols (from Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols)

Anarchy In The U.K. was really the last time something major happened to me and changed me. It was my last year at school, I had formed the Cure and it was the best summer of my life.

I remember listening to "Anarchy" for the very first time at a party and thinking "this is it!" You knew straight away, you either loved it or hated it, and it polarised an entire nation for that summer. That was the best thing about the punk movement.

The Sex Pistols just had it at the right time. For that one album, that one burst, they were immense. There's been nothing like them and I don't think there's been anything quite as good. There's been some fabulous groups since, but there's never been a group that's had the power the Sex Pistols had for just that summer.

You had to make a choice : you either were going to be left behind or you were going to embrace the new movement.

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:51 CDT

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