The Cure’s Lullaby: behind the meaning of the lyrics

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This article explains the meaning of The Cure’s Lullaby lyrics, running through the interpretation of the author’s message. A story based on the elements available by listening to the song.

I spy
Something beginning with ‘S’

In an initial atmosphere which is almost inviting, yet quiet, the beat of the song places us in the ordinary; the normal happenings of a normal evening.

However, soon the beat changes. It doesn’t sound like Robert Smith’s clock anymore. It has been replaced by something more sinister: the relentless march of a monster, approaching silently, crossing the border between death and life, trying to reach Smith who is lying in his bed, paralysed. It’s trying to eat him.

The singer’s voice crawls along an assertive bassline that endures, despite the presence of the monster. It announces the arrival of the danger, a threat endowed with a sinister power – yet it is almost seductive. It is something that keeps you frozen within your bed, helpless. And it’s late to turn on the light.

On candy stripe legs the Spiderman comes
Softly through the shadow of the evening sun
Stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead
Looking for the victim shivering in bed

For Robert Smith the monster is an entity which looks like a spider. It has arrived on his candy stripe legs and now Smith has to face it. It’s as fast as fear, too fast for us. It’s subtle, it can creep into the cracks that are left open within our minds. With its thousand legs, it can restrain every limb, from every angle: like a cage, like paralysis.

Be still, be calm, be quiet now, my precious boy
Don’t struggle like that or I will only love you more
For it’s much too late to get away or turn on the light
The Spiderman is having you for dinner tonight

There are many ways in which you can interpret the spider crawling on Robert Smith’s bed. It has been said that the song is a reference to Smith’s drug addiction haunting him from the past. Others prefer to think that the song is about the terrifying lullabies that the father sang him when he was a child.

But within the album, Disintegration, there lies the despair of one who’s lost, and who has no strength to stop the descent. The monster is there. It is fighting us. It is singing to us.

Disintegration is the album that tried to exorcise Robert Smith’s state of mind, at a moment when he’s completely self-absorbed, at a crossroads in his career. His music, at that time, is trying to break through the armour and bring light to The Cure’s true identity. A new birth.

cure_1989
The Cure in 1989

Lullaby is the only song where the impotence of the author is so evident. The horror-like qualities of that album will stay locked in one room: the room where Robert Smith looks the monster in the face, as it tries to make him its dinner. But he manages to lock the monster away.

Because the spider is totally powerless in front of a mind in its full control. Like every animal, it loses against the strength and courage of rationality.

To accept fear means finally facing it, as Smith did that night, in that room. It’s an act of bravery.

After that, you can only win.

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