“There’s no logic to it, and I still don’t know why or how I do it,” said Robert Smith of The Cure on all the overanalyzing that often goes into his songwriting. Admitting to often assembling songs from strewn papers and words that he’ll revisit months later, after it all “bottles up,” dreams have also been another space where Smith has captured lyrics.
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“It’s a bit like the drinking thing,” said Smith. “It’s become mythological. I don’t think I dream any more than anybody else—I can’t, because I sleep less than the average person. It’s just that I’m blessed, or cursed, with the ability to remember what I’ve dreamed.”
Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of the post-punk band since 1976, Robert Smith is responsible for a majority of The Cure’s 40-plus year catalog spanning 13 albums from Three Imaginary Boys in 1979 to 4:13 Dream in 2008 and the band’s forthcoming new music.
Writing The Cure’s well-known hits, including “Friday I’m in Love,” “Love Song,” “Just Like Heaven,” “The Love Cats” or the smoldering “Burn,” off the soundtrack to the 1994 film The Crow, Smith’s lyrics have penetrated even deeper with faithful favorites like “Push,” “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Fascination Street,” “A Forest” and dozens of more songs the band performs during their three-hour sets.
Poetic, gloomy, and even the sanguine—in whatever form, Smith’s songs have crossed over from The Cure’s earlier origins through Faith and Pornography in the early ’80s and into the subtle, pop tips of The Head on the Door, the lingering Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, and more epic Disintegration towards the close of the decade, and on through the 1992 release Wish and all that followed.
In between earlier stints playing guitar in Siouxsie and the Banshees, while still in The Cure, and writing for his side band, The Glove, with Banshees bassist and co-founder Steven Severin, Smith also co-wrote songs for a handful of other artists over the past 40 years.
Here are five songs that Smith wrote for everyone from Soft Cell’s Marc Almond to Blink-182 from 1983 through the 2020s.
1. “Torment,” Marc and the Mambas (1983)
Written by Robert Smith, Marc Almond, Steven Severin
The second and final album by Marc Almond’s side project, Marc and the Mambas’ Torment and Toreros features songs mostly written or co-written by the Soft Cell singer, including the darker cabaret of one of his signature songs “Black Heart,” along with a few covers, including the iconic Belgian singer Jacques Brel’s “The Bulls” and a lush rendition of the 1966 Verdelle Smith song, “In My Room.”
In the mix was also the somber “Torment,” co-written by Almond, along with Smith and his Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Glove bandmate, Steven Severin.
Your smile is my suffering
Your lies are needles in my skin
This torment that I’m tied within
Shows me love can’t be an empty thing
This ordeal, the heartache makes me love you more and more
It’s the sorrow I’m loving you for
The tongue burning me inside
The kiss that keeps me alive
I’d die a million deaths just to know
That you’re thinking of me
The knife in the heart twisting and turning in me
When you touch me, euphoria takes hold of my mind
Breathing fire into emotions that die
Emotions that die
2. “All of This,” Blink-182 (2003)
Written by Robert Smith, Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, and Tom DeLonge
Released on Blink-182‘s eponymous fifth album, released in 2003, “All of This” was written by the band’s three members along with Smith. Lyrically, the song follows the story of the band’s late producer, “Huckle” Jerry Finn (Morrissey, AFI, Green Day), and how he was once humiliated by a girl he was in love with as a young boy.
Musically, the song was inspired by The Cure’s 1983 hit, “The Love Cats.” The Cure was also one. of Blink-182 singer Mark Hoppus‘ favorite bands, which prompted the trio to reach out to Smith, who also sings on the track, for the collaboration.
With all of this I know now
Everything inside of my head
It all just goes to show how
Nothing I know changes me at all
Again I wait for this
To change instead, to tear the world in two
Another night with her
But I’m always wanting you
3. “Da Hype,” Junior Jack, featuring Robert Smith (2003)
Written by Robert Smith and Vito Lucente
Italian house music producer Vito Lucente (Junior Jack), who has remixed tracks for Moby and Whitney Houston, collaborated with Smith in the early ’00s on “Da Hype,” the closing track off his fifth album, Trust It. Featuring Smith on vocals, the song also samples the 1982 Bobby Orlando song “I’m So Hot for You.”
I’m floating in you
It’s so good to be too
I’m in love with the view
I just want to be yours
Only want to be yours
I’m flying again
It’s so good to pretend
I’m in love with the end
4. “Spiders, Crocodiles & Kryptonite,” Faithless (2006)
Written by Robert Smith, Faithless’ Rollo, Sister Bliss, and Maxi Jazz
Faithless not only sampled The Cure’s Disintegration hit, “Lullaby,” on their 2006 single, “Spiders, Crocodiles & Kryptonite,” but Smith also helped co-write and sings on the dance-y gloom track. The song is featured on the British band’s fifth album, To All New Arrivals.
Saving all my money for a pocketful of love
And food in my tummy
Chocolate and broccoli
Sand and dirt and squashing snails
I’m never going to bed but if I do
Selfish crocodile’s coming too
Train sets, birthdays and re-living
Pizzas, diggers and dirty things
What I want is a car like Noddy
And to live with the monkeys in the zoo
I’m never going to bed but if I do
Hungry caterpillar’s coming too
5. “How Not To Drown,” CHVRCHES, featuring Robert Smith (2021)
Written by Robert Smith, Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty, and Iain Cook
Off CHVRCHES 2021 album, Screen Violence, “How Not to Drown,” features vocals by the band’s Lauren Mayberry and Smith. “How Not To Drown” explores the expectations of women, particularly in music, and how they can often question and second-guess themselves.
I’m writing a book on how to stay conscious when you drown
And if the words float up to the surface
I’ll keep them down
This is the first time, I know
I don’t want the crown
You can take it now
You promised the world and brought me it hanging from a string
Stuck it in my mouth, into my throat
Told me to sing
That was the first time I knew
You can’t kill the king
And those who kiss the ring
Photo: Courtesy of Trafalgar Media