Dipping back into the Far Out archives, we’re revisiting the early origins of The Cure’s classic track ‘Lullaby’ through lead singer Robert Smith’s original handwritten lyrics.
The song, which arrived as a 1989 single from the band’s eighth studio album Disintegration, marked the first major taste of commercial success when it became the highest-charting single by the band in the UK. After getting as high as number five in the charts, the visuals for ‘Lullaby’ would also go on to secure victory in the ‘British Video of the Year’ category at the 1990 Brit Awards.
While fans have speculated theories around the themes tackled within the song for years, with discussions around addiction and depression being the leading topics, Robert Smith later explained that his inspiration for ‘Lullaby’ was actually a fear of sleep. Smith, on reflection, explained that a reoccurring nightmare he suffered as a child in which was eaten by a giant spider was ingrained in his memory. “There would be something like ‘Sleep now, pretty baby,’ and then there’d be an ‘Or you won’t wake up at all’ coda to the song,” he said.
However, conflicting ideas around the conception of the song arose when Tim Pope, the director video of the award-winning music video, claimed that the lyrics used in the outro to the song were actually a reference to Smith’s past drug use. “On one level, there is this stupidity and humour, but beneath that there are all Smiffy’s psychological obsessions and claustrophobia,” Pope said in an interview with NME.
“I had grown up with the films of Roman Polanski — you know, films like Repulsion and The Tenant [and they] were a great influence on me,” Pope added. “They all tend to be kind of dark and obsessive. And that was something that went very well with the Cure’s music and Robert’s lyrics.”
Adding: “With all my videos, I tried to add to the song, but still allow the song to breathe — if the song was brilliant enough to be allowed to breathe.”
Despite the confusion around the source of the creativity, the legacy of the now-iconic song remains etched into the annals of rock and roll history. Looking back to the origins of the track, see Smith’s handwritten lyrics, below.