The Song The Cure’s Robert Smith and Boris Williams Created in Two Days for ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack: “Burn”

In Book Two: Fear of James O’Barr’s 1993 graphic novel The Crow, the lyrics to The Cure‘s Pornography track “The Hanging Garden” are printed adjacent to an illustration of his protagonist Eric Draven, the lost soul who resurrects seeking retribution for the murder of his fiancée and the loss of his life.

While writing the series, first published by Caliber Comics in 1989, Barr was heavily influenced by The Cure and Joy Division, who have several references in the book. The likeness of Draven, portrayed by Brandon Lee, who died during the filming from a firearm malfunction on set, was visualized, according to Barr, by fusing a character somewhere between Iggy Pop and Bauhaus‘ Peter Murphy.

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The Birth of “Burn”

When the 1994 film adaptation of The Crow was in production, The Cure originally offered to contribute “The Hanging Garden” to the soundtrack, a ’90s time capsule featuring Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Helmet, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and more. Instead, The Cure’s Robert Smith decided to write an original song for the film, directed by Alex Proyas—who had mostly directed music videos for Sting, INXS, Crowded House, Fad Gadget, and more, up until that point.

At the time, The Cure’s lineup was in flux shortly after the release of their ninth album Wish, so Smith and then-drummer Boris Williams turned the song around over the course of two days.

“The whole thing was turned around in like two days,” said Smith in 2008. “I just had the idea and we just recorded like me and him in the studio, very much like I did the ‘Top’ [1984] album. Actually, he just sort of jammed the drums and I was just playing along.”

‘The Shadows Breathe’

In the film, “Burn” is first introduced when Draven returns to the abandoned apartment where he and his partner Shelley were murdered a year earlier on Devil’s Night, the evening before Halloween, by a gang.

Don’t look don’t look the shadows breathe
Whispering me away from you
Don’t wake at night to watch her sleep
You know that you will always lose
This trembling
Tousled bird mad girl
But every night I burn
But every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again

[RELATED: 5 Songs You Didn’t Know The Cure’s Robert Smith Wrote for Other Artists]

“Burn” captured the longing and sorrow and Draven’s phantom-like calling for his love.

Oh don’t talk of love the shadows purr
Murmuring me away from you
Don’t talk of worlds that never were
The end is all that’s ever true
There’s nothing you can ever say
Nothing you can ever do”
Still every night I burn
Every night I scream your name
Every night I burn
Every night the dream’s the same
Every night I burn
Waiting for my only friend
Every night I burn
Waiting for the world to end

Just paint your face the shadows smile
Slipping me away from you
Oh it doesn’t matter how you hide
Find you if we’re wanting to
So slide back down and close your eyes
Sleep a while
You must be tired
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream

For nearly two decades since its release, The Cure never performed “Burn” live. In 2013, the band performed it for the first time at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans and continues to add it to their setlist to this day.

Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

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