How my Robert Smith Obsession Started with a Single Song – ‘Catch’

How my Robert Smith Obsession Started with a Single Song – ‘Catch’

I don’t fully understand why this song, ‘Catch’, by The Cure, had such a huge impact on me. But it was probably 1990, when I heard it for the first time, and I was in my very early teens. That may have something to do with it.

I have strong memories of sitting on my bedroom floor, butterflies in my stomach, blasting out ‘Catch’, by The Cure, which I undoubtedly recorded from my older sister’s cassette tapes, which she, in turn, had probably recorded from a friend. Tape-to-tape-to-tape recordings worked pretty well in those days-as I remember-if you didn’t mind the sea breeze blowing through your tracks! My sister was introduced to The Cure first, and hearing them played in the house, their songs quickly captured my attention.

1990, Teen me, contemplating life, with my cat

The double album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, on which ‘Catch’ features, was released by The Cure, unbeknownst to me, in 1987, rising to #27 in the UK charts, at a point in my life, when I was the proud new owner of ‘I should be so Lucky’ on 7” vinyl, by Kylie Minogue.  Jump ahead three years, into the, somewhat, darker days of my teens, and this Cure album, could not really be on a further plain, but one I was more intrigued by, the moodier I got.

Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me album, The Cure, released 1987

I must have been sucker-punched by that first song on the album, ‘The Kiss’, which frankly, was quite an overwhelming experience for me-just breaking through from an easy-listening music childhood, which, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed immensely. But you don’t stay there forever.

I always find it fascinating, that shift between childhood and teenage-hood. It’s no wonder young teens find it such a troubling time. The stark transformation is so apparent from my own diary entries from this time – the change in tone, the sudden interjections of self-deprecation and low mood, compared to the light, care-free pre-teen entries of what ‘fun stuff’ I did and with whom, in the late ‘80s. Once you start passing over into the teen years, a new type of music is called for, and Robert Smith answered my call.

I love the minutia of this song, ‘Catch’, – the romance in noticing someone’s facial expression, their body language, and caring enough to write about it in a song. The observation of human imperfections, such as in the line, ‘That girl was always falling again and again’. I don’t know what Robert meant by them, but I know what they meant to me.

I hoped and romanticised that someday, somebody might take the time to notice me in that way, forgiving my awkwardness and imperfections. I think it helped me to be more ‘okay’ with my own weaknesses and fears. In fact, I think Robert Smith did a lot for young awkward teens, grappling with the dawning new world of romantic relationships and their own insecurities within it.

Robert, with his boyish coyness paradoxically performing confidently on camera, was intriguing to me. I don’t recall analysing any of this back then, but I feel it helped me make a bit more sense of the world, both inside, and outside of my head. Either way, I was wrapped in the romance of this song, along with many others on this album, such as the acclaimed, ‘Just Like Heaven’, and another favourite of mine, ‘Perfect Girl’, from the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me album.

You needed to have some time on your hands to listen to this double album. It took time and space and a degree of emotional turmoil to soak up these songs. And they would repay you for your attention, in comfort and kindred understanding, especially in your darkest of moments.

I’m sure I must have listened to the whole album all the way through, at times, but ‘Catch’, was one of several which I lifted via the tape-to-tape method, and added to an alternative/indie/goth, what might now be termed, ‘grunge’, mix tape, which I made in the early 1990s and which became the soundtrack to my early teens. I will see if I can find that mix tape, or at least recall the songs on it, and re-create it. It would be worth it. Really, it sums up everything that was me at that time. And this song, ‘Catch’, was a key track, which to this day, triggers all sorts of early teen, nerve-tingling emotions, sending the hairs on the back of my neck, into a frenzy. I’m sure everyone has a track that does that.

1993, Teen me with boyfriend visiting from France, both Cure fans, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me poster on my bedroom wall

I know exactly how my room looked at the time (okay, this is partly because I have photos!) but also because every memory I have of listening to this song is sitting on my bedroom floor, surrounded by The Cure posters, from wall to ceiling. My heart misses a beat every time I hear (at the beginning of this track) the cicadas singing, then, ‘One, two…’, as Porl Thompson (in the official video) counts the drums in. Heavenly.

1993, My boyfriend and other friends, in my bedroom, with Cure posters

I recall listening to the lyrics and noting the risqué notion of ‘rolling about on the floor’ and waking up sore, depicted in the song. A gentle eye-opener to the adult world, wrapped in romance and affectionate observation.

My heart and head were in such a wistful place at this time. Now I think about it, I wonder how many of my romantic notions were inspired by The Cure. What a genius Robert Smith was (and of course still is), observing the human condition, and capturing it in his song words, with all its perfect imperfections, to coin a phrase. I think My Robert Smith obsession started here. It grew rapidly, into posters, postcards, magazine articles…boyfriends…

1991, View of my ceiling, from lying on my bed, with 6 foot Cure poster and Indian scarf as a curtain (?)

Definitely did not pick this guy out of the crowd because of his strikingly similar appearance to Robert Smith! (surely not). Fortunately for me, this guy, who did actually become my boyfriend, turned out to be as much of a romantic as Robert Smith, and was a musician and an artistic creator on top. Actually, he is such a lovely guy, and someone I still consider a friend, even if he is impossible to get hold of these days!

I recently found out that the song, ‘Catch’, was inspired by the film ‘Rocky 2’, in which Rocky, AKA Sylvester Stallone, writes and reads a poem to his wife, who has fallen into a coma, “…and you kept trying to slip so I could catch you…” I mean, who didn’t cry at that scene? And it affected Robert Smith so much as to inspire him to write a heart-felt song. There’s nothing else you can say about that, really, other than…

‘…I used to sometimes try to catch her, but never even caught her name’.

1992, Teen me, on the top bunk, in my bedroom, with The Cure posters
'Catch' features on the album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, released in 1987. Lyrics by Robert Smith, The Cure

The Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me album is available here, in various formats.

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