The influence of The Cure has been extensive over the past 40 years of popular music. Although the band themselves detest the term, any artist that taps into the potent well of goth rock that The Cure perfected needs to acknowledge the forefathers of the genre. Whether it was stripped back post-punk, creeping orchestral pop, or jubilant candy-coated pop, The Cure have the kind of eclectic catalogue that any group would kill for.
But just like all musicians, The Cure have some songs that have transcended above and beyond even the band themselves. Perhaps the most mainstream-friendly of all of The Cure’s material is ‘Just Like Heaven’, the 1987 single that catapulted The Cure from one of England’s best-loved underground acts to legitimate stadium rock icons.
Although it wasn’t their highest charting song in either the US or the UK, as those honours belong to ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Lullaby’ respectively, ‘Just Like Heaven’ remains The Cure’s third most-streamed song on Spotify after ‘Friday I’m In Love’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. It’s been played at nearly every Cure concert since its original release as well with a grand total of 761 plays, good enough to make it the band’s fifth-most played live song ever.
If you want a clear illustration of just how big ‘Just Like Heaven’ truly is, however, just look at the number of covers it has inspired. Everyone from modern folkies The Lumineers to punk rockers Goldfinger to ’90s alt-rockers 10,000 Maniacs to bluegrass kings The Infamous Stringdusters have given the song a try, but the one band to truly key into the song was American alt-punks Dinosaur Jr.
Originally released as a single in the UK two years after The Cure’s original version, Dinosaur Jr.’s take on ‘Just Like Heaven’ was originally meant to be included on a compilation of punk rock covers before the band decided they wanted to release it as a stand-alone single. “We recorded it for a compilation album, but when we finished it we liked it so much we didn’t want to give it to them,” singer J Mascis told Musician Magazine in 1989.
Dinosaur Jr. even sent Robert Smith a cassette of the cover, to which Smith responded enthusiastically. “J Mascis sent me a cassette, and it was so passionate. It was fantastic. I’ve never had such a visceral reaction to a cover version before or since”, Smith told Blender back in 2003.
Check out Dinosaur Jr.’s version of ‘Just Like Heaven’ down below.