If The Cure’s reputation was based in part upon the massive gothic movement spearheaded by Joy Division (which is a totally reductive thing to say), then some of my favorite Cure songs were based upon the dancey guitar music created by New Order.
Which is also pretty reductive thing to say, but the fact is that two of my all-time favorite Cure songs are what I call The Cure’s New Order songs: “In Between Days” (which I didn’t write about because I really didn’t have much to say beyond this New Order thing) and of course, “Just Like Heaven.” One time is an experiment, but two times is a concept.
Which is fine, because I’ve always loved New Order, and if you’re going to borrow — which everybody does — what matters is what you do with what you borrow. And “Just Like Heaven” knocks it out the fucking park.
What a great tune Robert Smith came up with here. “Just Like Heaven” slots perfectly within his sweet spot of aching and catchy, featuring one of the most unforgettable guitar hooks ever written and a brilliantly romantic opening verse.
“Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream” she said
“The one that makes me laugh” she said
And threw her arms around my neck
“Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you”
Good lord, that’s how you open a love song! And they ran away and lived happily ever after. Next song!
Wait, what? Fine. We’re talking about The Cure here, so even though she professes her love, he’s lost inside of his head until things take, well, a turn.
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone, alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me
It’s practically a Shakespearian tragedy inside of a three-minute pop song.
Of course, pop songs songs where the perfect love ends with one of the lovers dying is a pop staple going back to at least the 50s — go check “Tell Laura I Love Her” — but “Just Like Heaven” pretty much smokes them all. It’s easily my favorite song by The Cure, and while it wasn’t their biggest single here or anywhere else, it feels as iconic as any song in their catalog.
Video for “Just Like Heaven”