Inspired by the Salinger short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” — which happens to be probably my favorite Salinger story (if I were to write my “perfect short story” it would probably be something close to that particular tale in terms of impact rather than subject matter), although both “Franny and Zooey” are right up there, too — Bananafishbones is off of an album that many Cure fans tend to ignore for whatever reason. The Top is more like a solo Robert Smith album than a Cure album. Although Lol, Porl/Pearl and others had a role in the promotion and recording of it, it is my understanding that their songwriting role was very limited or nonexistent. And, honestly, after the implosion the Pornography caused the band to undergo, who can blame Bob for having more of a go-at-it-alone attitude?
The Top is a great compliment to Pornography and Faith, and hints at what was to come with Head on the Door. It’s too bad that the album is overlooked by so many, because it has some gut-wrenching songs in it that informed my life nearly as much as those other two acclaimed albums. The Empty World is a bit of a sequel to Charlotte Sometimes, and I think that Birdmad Girl, is another cut of that same cloth. Shake Dog Shake is some residual psychic energy from the previous albums, as well as Give Me It and Piggy in the Mirror. Everyone who has heard it seems to love The Caterpillar, and I used to, but it has gotten a little too saccharine for me as I’ve aged. Still, if you watch the video for the only single from the album, it is Robert probably looking his best and least demented, with the exception perhaps of when he played with Siouxsie (although there is a bit of the drug euphoria look going on).
The song itself is more about self-loathing than it is about the story it references, although it was the song that first turned me onto Salinger beyond Catcher (in my opinion, his weakest story). If I hadn’t heard this song was connected to the short story, I might not have gone beyond Catcher in the Rye in my reading or been very impressed with Salinger as a whole. It is not one of the easiest Cure tunes to listen to for non-fans, in part because of the subject matter, and in part that is sounds pretty much like a lunatic wrote it. But that was some of the charm for me.
Go red and blue and black and white
Sell this sell this
Or leave it senseless like a suck on a gun?
Put a piece of metal in your head you said
Make you dead
Make you hippa hippa hippa hippa