Retro Spin: “Let’s Go To Bed” by The Cure


Released December 1983, the album “Japanese Whispers” by The Cure contains at least one song that is arguably the sound of new wave or dark wave music in the early 1980s. With a twisting and dark keyboard riff, at least slightly naughty lyrics, “Let’s Go To Bed” is as blunt as it is shy, and mysterious as it obvious. The deliciously haunting melody is lightened a bit by the words brought to life by singer Robert Smith’s singular voice. “Let’s Go To Bed” is a classic worth hearing over again.

The Cure and the early 1980s soundscape

In the early 1980s, keyboards or synthesizers were everywhere in popular music. The Cure, an English band that formed in the late 1970s, were no exception. While even hair metal and r&b used keyboards, bands like The Cure, Duran Duran, Culture Club, The Eurythmics and more, took the instrument to new heights.

Because of the flexible nature of the keyboard’s sound, the resulting soundscapes could be light and wispy, or dark and brooding. Either way, the instrument found a home in the thought-pop, dark wave, and new wave songs that came to define the 1980s.

And it was not just keyboards that made the early 1980s sound the way they did. Buoyant bass lines and terse, but sometimes thundering drums also paved the way for defining 1980s new wave and pop.

“Japanese Whispers” by The Cure

“Japanese Whispers” by The Cure became a classic among new wave fans not just for the presence of “Let’s Go To Bed.” The tracks “A Walk,” and “Love Cats” also earned the band new listeners. All of the tracks mentioned here have a deep and sinewy synth approach that make them great to listen to. The nuances of each song can be appreciated on both lyrical and sonic levels.

“Let’s Go To Bed” is no exception. The sound is mysterious, but the lyrics are fairly clear. Even so, they are not raunchy in the 1980’s tradition. There is playfulness in almost every line. The backing vocals with their almost lighthearted syllables are a nice touch.

Members of the band have relayed how the song came to be. Apparently, there were concerns that the song (given its topic) would alienate some of their more Goth listeners. What happened instead was that a wide swath of people from Goth wave purists, to cool kids who liked anything pop, were finding “Let’s Go to Bed” a song that meant something to them.

“Let’s Go to Bed” still finds its way into rotations when FM and satellite stations dedicate playlists to new wave bands.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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