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(Credit: Mary Chain / Wonker)


The not-so-sweet truth about ‘Just Like Honey’ by The Jesus and Mary Chain


The Jesus and Mary Chain classic ‘Just Like Honey’ is synonymous for most of us with the finale of the film Lost in Translation. And it is a question often asked, what exactly was whispered. Well, the obvious answer is does it really matter? 

It is the sort of poetic moment that yearns for a little more than reading between the lines and that bittersweet beauty is a perfect paradigm of the searching we often face in our own life when figurative whispers prove equally hard to fathom in the brief moment that they are presented. 

The same obscurity applies to the song that perfectly plays over the top of it. ‘Just Like Honey’ is a beauteous anthem whereby things sound so heavenly you can only imagine that it’s about the stars aligning and orchestrating a love liaison of the most sanguine sort. It has the same seamlessly seismic feel as Julian Casablancas crooning: “Ten decisions shape your life, you’ll be aware of five about.”

Texturally, it is just about the perfect love song. It feels epic and humble at the same time, much like the real thing. It’s also one where the band have kept their cards close to their chest regarding its inception—perhaps because it somewhat taints it when the whispered eudemonia is twisted with the irony of a sorry addiction. 

The liberating boom of rock ‘n’ roll changed the world, propelling the sixties from the monochrome past into a new tie-dye swirled future. Therefore, it comes as quite the retrospective surprise to hear that The Doors were actually banned from The Ed Sullivan Show simply for refusing to change the “Girl we couldn’t get much higher,” because of drug connotations. 

With this in mind, to get around censorship and label execs touchy about commercial viability, a trend began where bands would almost relish the proposition of working underground references into mainstream hits. It was a daring practice that almost made more fun of the bourgeoise than plainly stating illicit facts and it added an air of allure to the artistry almost like Russian literature greats trying to circumvent Soviet control while simultaneously making a mockery of them. 

However, when it comes to ‘Just Like Honey’ it is the title of the album that contains the track that reveals the truth. Psychocandy is a far less veiled reference than the lyrics to cocaine. Given that context references to “Dripping” and the lines like “Walking back to you/ Is the hardest thing that / I can do” seem much more akin to an addiction that renders you a plastic toy to a substance. 

Perhaps, that is why there is a sorrowful yearning that twists the song like the knots in your stomach when you listen. It is, in short, a masterpiece and perhaps the greatest cocaine song of all time. 

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