This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #363: A Forest by The Cure.
In 1989, I began my first year of teaching in downtown Toronto. I was 24 years old, living and working in the biggest city in Canada. It should have been an exciting time in my life. But in the beginning I found it overwhelming and lonely. Being a new teacher is always an overwhelming experience and I was no different in that regard. Not having someone to lean on during those times made it harder perhaps than it needed to be. In those pre-Internet times, it wasn’t as easy to connect with people as it is today. There was no Tinder or Bumble or E-Harmony or social media of any sort. The primary forms of media back then were TV, Radio and Newspapers. In newspapers, there was a section known as the Classified Ads where people could reach out to one another if they had something to sell, something they wanted to buy or in my case, someone they wanted to meet. Being shy as I am, this seemed like an avenue worth exploring so I actually placed a companion ad of my own in the Toronto Star newspaper. From that ad, I received three responses. One was from a 19-year old girl, whose parents owned the General Store in Phelpston, Ontario (not far from Wasaga Beach). Initially, we corresponded the old-school way by writing letters to each other. In the course of those exchanges, we discussed music. Based upon her desire that “a piece of her should be with me in my world“, she made me a mixed-tape of songs that meant something to her. The cassette was filled with songs by Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and so on. In retrospect, it was an outstanding collection of music. Unfortunately, as is often the case with things of this nature, the mixed tape she sent to me turned out to be better than actually being together with her. It quickly became apparent that she was not The One I was hoping to find. So, she went back to Phelpston but I kept the mixed-tape.
The first song on that cassette was by The Cure. It was called “A Forest”. The Cure have been together as a band since the beginning of the 1980s. Lead singer Robert Smith has been the only member of the band to have been there for the entire duration of their career. The Cure have record sales approaching the 30 million mark in a career that has seen them release some of the most well-known songs in history such as “Pictures of You”, “Its Friday, I’m In Love”, “Love Cats”, “Let’s Go To Bed”, “Lullaby” and “Just Like Heaven”. They were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. “A Forest” comes from their second album called Seventeen Seconds which saw the band start to dabble a bit in more of a darker, almost Goth-inspired sound. “A Forest” is one of those songs that is almost an instrumental song (even though it has lyrics) because it is the guitar playing and keyboard work that are what makes this song sound so special. Smith is quoted as saying that he was trying to create atmosphere with “A Forest” and he is bang-on with his assessment. “A Forest” is a super-sounding song. It is a song that you can listen to with your eyes closed and allow your imagination to create marvellous stories in your mind. The actual song lyrics describe a boy being lured to the edge of a forest by what he believes is a girl beckoning him forth. Does he go past the tree line? Is there really a girl on the other side for him to find? I will leave the answers to those questions for you to explore on your own when you listen to the song below. While not a song that was a hit on the charts, “A Forest” remains as one of the most popular songs that The Cure play live. It has been a fixture on their set lists all throughout their career. Without question, the sound of this song has become synonymous with the sound of The Cure as a whole.
As for me well, all things happen for a reason. At the time I didn’t end up with the girl but I did end up with a decent story to tell and a stellar mixed tape to own. Whether my Phelpston flame was trying to lure me across her tree line and into a whole new world with her selection of “A Forest” as song #1 on the mixtape, I can’t ever be sure. All that I know is that I didn’t end up following the path she laid out before me. Instead, I turned away to a brighter future that. eventually included finding my true love who, at the time all of this was unfolding, was in Grade 6 in Trenton, Ontario, of all places. One never knows what life has in store. The lesson, I suppose is that the right path to follow is the one you follow with your heart. Here is “A Forest” by The Cure. Enjoy.
A link to the music video for “A Forest” by The Cure, can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.
A link to the official website for The Cure, can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for supporting the music that becomes the soundtrack to our lives. A link to their website can be found here.
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