In 1987, The Cure was recording their seventh album – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me – in the south of France, at Studio Miraval, in the castle of the same name (that’s right, if you follow Hollywood news it’s the same one that today belongs to Brad Pitt). The studio became famous 8 years earlier when Pink Floyd created the classic The Wall in the same location. Robert Smith, leader of the band and its main composer, forced himself to write music for 15 days each month to have enough material when he got there. In the middle of the material was a song – still without words – that pleased the musicians’ girlfriends (including his own, his future wife, Mary Poole). He knew it was one of the most romantic songs he had ever written and that he had a hit on his hands.
The basic melody and original chords, however, resembled 1979 hit by the Only Ones called Another Girl, Another Planet, so they needed to be changed. Increasing the rhythm of the drums and giving the idea, which remained, that each instrument entered individually and in sequence. The lyrics (and later, the video) were inspired by a trip he took with Mary the previous summer, when they went to the beach and spent “a dream day” or rather, Just Like Heaven.
Being The Cure, it wouldn’t be your average love song. The dark bias was clear in the lyrics: they play, kiss on the edge of the cliff, and sleep, but when he wakes up alone he doesn’t know if he dreamed or if he lost his girl. In fact, the most likely would even be his death, further reinforcing the suitability of the choice for The Last of Us‘s beautiful love scene between Ellie and Riley, but the frontman says that “The song is about hyperventilating – kissing and passing out in the floor”.
The muse of Just Like Heaven is Mary Poole, for whom Robert Smith also wrote the wonderful Lovesong. She and the singer met at just 14 years old, in an art class, and are still together today. It’s Mary who plays the girl in the video directed by Tim Pope and the musician wouldn’t have anyone else in her place. “Mary dances with me in the video because she was the girl, so it had to be her,” he explained in an interview.
Unsurprisingly, Just Like Heaven was voted one of the iconic songs of the 1980s and one of the most beautiful love songs of all time, always being one of the moments at The Cure concerts where the audience goes wild. It is said that it is one of the moments that Robert likes the most precisely because of the reaction of the fans. As he told Rolling Stone, it’s his favorite composition and one he reportedly said, “I’ll never write anything this good again.” I beg to differ (Lovesong is proof) but, it certainly is one of the most popular songs of the last 40 years, unsurprisingly it has been featured in several series and movies. The Last of Us only used the instrumental version, but it was magic. And it’s always worth remembering.
And live, in Rio.