It’s World Goth Day, so let’s discuss this ranking of Cure songs

The Cure perform in concert at the Frank Erwin Center May 13, 2016 (photo: Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman)


Perhaps because it is World Goth Day,  the ’80s music site Slicing Up Eyeballs took a reader poll and ranked all 225 songs by the Cure. They tallied more than 100,000 votes. The results are kind of fascinating.

Nos. 2 to 10? Completely understandable: “Just Like Heaven,” Inbetween Days,” “Pictures of You,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Charlotte Sometimes,” “Fascination Street,” “Disintegration,” “Close to Me,” “A Night Like This.”

No. 1? “A Forest” (separated by *one vote* from “Just Like Heaven” — don’t let anyone tell you democracy doesn’t matter).

I like “A Forest.”  But it would not necessarily occur to me that it’s  The Best or Most Favorite Cure Song of All Time.

But I am clearly in the minority. It is a beloved tune, by both fans (obviously) and the band (it is the song they have played the most times) and remains one of the earlier examples of the Cure in one of its final forms: propulsive, yet atmospheric; driving, yet moody.

And what with ONE VOTE separating the top two songs, it is a virtual tie between goth Cure and pop Cure.

RELATED: The Cure deliver three hours of you at Frank Erwin Center


So here’s my list of 15 favorite Cure jams. No surprises here (and, honestly, just something of a rearrangement of stuff on the Slicing list), mostly because they weren’t shy about making the sharpest songs singles. (My list is likely heavily influenced by the cassette version of “Standing on a Beach,” their first and best singles collection and one of the best singles sets of the decade.)

1. “Just Like Heaven” (One of the perfect songs of the 1980s, period)

2. “Pictures of You” (Peak romantic Cure, absolutely amazing for pining over someone)

3. “Inbetween Days” (Throw some sequencers on there and it’s a perfect New Order song)

4. “Plainsong” (Sublime in the purest sense – just overwhelming stuff and one of the all-time great album/show openers)

5. “Charlotte Sometimes” (Peak Goth Cure)

6. “Fascination Street” (Both single version and album version; total rocker, also kinda obscene; forever the sickest bass line)

7. “The Hanging Garden” (Peak Goth Cure, pt. 2)

8. “The Lovecats” (Stunning pop song; terrific stand-up bass)

9. “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (Peak bitchy Cure)

10. “Boys Don’t Cry” (I’m not made of stone)

11. “Primary” (Total live jam)

12. “A Forest” (Look, I said I liked it)

13. “10:15 Saturday Night” (All-time great ode to FOMO; perfect if you are a bored, friendless teen just waiting for SNL to start)

14. “Friday I’m in Love” (Past the point where I was paying attention as a fan, but their best structured song since “Just Like Heaven,” perhaps?)

15. “Close to Me” (The song that reminded everyone, Oh yeah, these guys can make almost any set of sounds into something that becomes the Cure.)

So what are YOUR favorites?


Four times Powers Boothe was incredibly intimidating on screen

Texas-born actor Powers Boothe died May 14 of natural causes at the age of 68.

Powers Boothe as Cy Tolliver


The gifted character actor, who hailed from Snyder, slithered into the public consciousness in 1980 playing cult leader Jim Jones in the TV movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.”

And I do mean slithered — over the years, Boothe cultivated a gift for being slick, snake-like and often extremely scary. Here are a few examples:


Here is Boothe as Rev. Jim Jones. It’s a star-making turn; check out the way he says “All marriages….are dissolved.”  Doesn’t hurt, I suppose, that he was playing one of the most horrific Americans of the past 40 years — it’s a meaty, hideous role and Boothe made the most of it.

And then there’s the time that Boothe, in spite of wearing a completely ridiculous red shirt, was creepy as Curly Bill Brocius in the 1993 Western “Tombstone.” His line at :38 is probably in the meme hall of fame

Here is Boothe in an Austin production, as the beyond-corrupt Sen. Roark in Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s “Sin City.”

Boothe’s signature performance of the 21st century was as Cy Tolliver, owner of the Bella Union saloon and brothel in the still-stunning HBO series “Deadwood.”

Boothe seemed born to play this part, a mixture of viciousness, oily faux-class, increasingly desperate ambition, vain cowardice and fits of savage violence that can only come from the worst of the above. However awful Al Swearengen could be, Tolliver was always worse and Boothe was great at making that worse sing.

We’ll perhaps skip the scene where he all but beats to death a very young-looking Kristen Bell and instead focus on Tolliver matching wits with the genuinely psychopathic Wolcott.





This week: King Arthur, Lehane, “Anne” and Norm!

Even the star of “King Arthur” looks skeptical

“Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane (Ecco) After she loses it on air, former journalist Rachel Childs has barely left the house. And then an encounter causes her life, marriage and possibly sanity to fall apart. Look, it’s the new Lehane; of course you’re curious. (May 9)

Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (Netflix) The newest special from the great Norm Macdonald. (May 9)

Zac Brown Band, “Welcome Home” (Southern Ground/Atlantic). The very embodiment of frat-country releases their seventh studio album, just in time for the end of college finals and the start of summer vacation. (May 12)

Harry Styles, “Harry Styles” (C(olumbia). Styles, former singer with One Direction and possessed of some of the greatest hair in popular music, makes his solo debut. Columbia is praying it has another Justin Timberlake on its hands. (May 12)

 “Anne” (Netflix). This is an eight-episode adaptation of the foundational 1908 all ages/children’s book “Anne of Green Gables,” about a complicated Canadian orphan girl and her adventures with friends and (adopted, more or less) family. You may make your own “bosom friends” joke here. (May 12)

Various artists, “The Bob’s Burgers Music Album” (Sub Pop). A double album with 112 songs from the first 107 episodes of one of the best animated shows of its era. (May 12)

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Look, I love a King Arthur movie. Even bad ones (2004’s “King Arthur,” we’ll never forget you). But let’s be real: Does anyone remember the last time a King Arthur movie made any money domestically? Or any movie set in the Middle or Dark Ages? Was it in the 21st century? They tend to do OK overseas, but not so much in the States. Anyway, this one stars Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and Jude Law as Vortigern. Yes, I will see it, but I will be astonished if anyone else does. (May 12)

“Snatched.” Amy Schumer is the daughter, Goldie Hawn is the mother. They go on vacation. Hijinks ensue. (May 12)

Austin fave Link Wray was born 88 years ago today

The man.

Happy birthday to the late Link Wray, the one-lunged, Shawnee native who changed the way people thought about guitar would have been 88 today. Antone’s celebrates his legacy at a concert later this month.

Wray is credited with inventing (or at least popularizing) both the power chord and distortion as a vital part of a guitarist’s musical palette, two elements upon which the rock ‘n’ roll church is built.

Wray, who hailed from Dunn, N.C., did most of his best work in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland area. Legend has it that the Korean War veteran came up with his primal rock instrumental ‘Rumble’ while playing a dance at the Fredericksburg (Virginia) Arena.

Someone asked for a stroll, and Wray and his band knocked out one of the most powerful instrumentals of all time. The single was released in ’58 and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Rumble” is a wonderful song to listen to in the autumn — this sound is wind in the Central Virginia hills, leather jackets over heavy flannel shirts and violent D.C. juke joints.

It’s a sound that hypnotized everyone from Pete Townshend to Bob Dylan; bands such as the Cramps and the Rev. Horton Heat built entire careers around the rockabilly-as-menace shtick, mixing it with junk culture and punk rock.

His hits collections, full of ripping instrumentals such as”Raw-Hide,” “Jack the Ripper,” “Ace of Spades,” are mandatory listening for every rock fan.

As the Beatles ascended, instrumental rock faded. In in the late 60s and early 70s, Wray‘s career had a strange second act when he and his band cut three albums over a few years time on his father’s farm in Maryland, the “3-Track Shack.” A blend of blues, country, gospel, Native American chants and folk, they sound like the could have been cut tomorrow. One of them, “Beans and Fatback” was reissued for Record Sore Day 2017.

But he never forgot his overdriven, holes-in-the-amp-speaker roots, especially as punk embraced fuzz and distortion.  “Link Wray: Live at the Paradiso, released in 1979, is a proto-noise-rock stunner.

Wray — who toured until his death and did two nights at the Continental Club several months prior — is remembered for making music that embodied the idea of rock guitar as dangerous, as menacing, as something that could barely be tamed.

For those who want to see Austin players pay tribute to the godfather of distortion, head over to Antone’s on May 13 for the “13 Guitar Rumble” starring Burnin’ Mike Vernon (3 Balls of Fire), Eve Monsees (Exiles), Mike Buck (LeRoi Bros), Denny Freeman (Bob Dylan),  Speedy Sparks (Sir Douglas Quintet), Rosie Flores,
Rick Broussard (Two Hoots and A Holler), Steve Fulton, John X Reed, Danny B Harvey (Nancy Sinatra), Pierre Peligrin (Havana 3am), Pat Collins (LeRoi Bros), Don Leady (Tail Gators), Jack Montesinos (Don Leady’s Rockin Revue) and Homer Henderson along with all kinds of guests.

Tony Hale talks acting, ‘Veep’ in ‘On Story’

Julia Louis Dreyfus and Tony Hale on “Vep

On tonight’s broadcast of “On Story,” check out actor Tony Hale on the best acting advice Julia Louis Dreyfus ever gave him.

“On Story” airs 7:30 p.m. CT on KLRU-Q; the audio /radio version can  be found PRI and available at and iTunes, Stitcher and elsewhere.

Bret Anthony Johnston’s American Short Fiction story takes £30,000 award

Texas writer Bret Anthony Johnston (“Remember Me Like This” has won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for his story “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses,” originally published last fall in Austin literary magazine American Short Fiction’s 25th anniversary issue.

The prestigious international prize is the richest for a single story in the English language, worth £30,000 (almost $39,000 in today’s exchange rate) to the winner.

Two recent ASF stories were selected for “Best American Short Stories 2017” and another for “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017.”

You can read Johnston’s story in its entirety on the Story Award’s website.

The annual contest is judged by a panel of renowned editors, literary journalists, and writers. This year’s winner was chosen by Anne Enright, Mark Lawson, Neel Mukherjee, Rose Tremain, and Andrew Holgate. The judges praised it as a story “in which small details take on vast significance, and perceptions have the kick of a stallion.”

Johnston’s best-selling “Remember Me Like This” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize.  Johnston teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.

Here is Johnston at BookPeople in 2014.

Willie and “The Handmaid’s Tale:” No, it’s not a new CCR song

Elisabeth Moss confronts a rather grim existence in “The Handmaid’s Tale”


This week, look out for:

“Dreaming the Beatles” by Rob Sheffield (Dey St.) Boy howdy, is this book good. (April 25)

“Borne: A Novel” By Jeff VanderMeer (MCD) In the highly anticipated follow-up his outstanding Southern Reach trilogy, VanderMeer explores the story of Rachel, a scavenger in a dead city once-dominated by collapsed corporation called the Company, who adopts a being called Borne. Long a top-drawer editor, VanderMeer is becoming contemporary master of gripping, thoughtful s-f weirdness. (April 25)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu). I think it’s safe to say that this 10-episode series is the crown jewel of Hulu’s original programming for 2017. This terrifyingly relevant story, based on Margaret Atwood’s classic of dystopian feminist science fiction, stars Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, a very creepy Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley and more. Three episodes launch the show; the rest arrive weekly on Wednesdays. One suspects that this might be the future of streaming: a balance between bingeing and weekly waits, which both gives the show time to build an audience and prevents folks from watching all of it at once and the show having less overall impact as a result. (April 26)

Feist, “Pleasure” (Interscope). She’s back! It’s her first album since 2011 and her fifth overall. Expect a whole mess of emotional, intense song craft. Who doesn’t like Leslie Feist? (April 28)

Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy Recordings). Another seven months, another Willie Nelson album (the last one came out in September). Many songs were written by Nelson and producer Buddy Cannon. Also looks for songs by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, vocals from the late Leon Russell, a song about the 2016 election called “Delete and Fast-Forward” and a tribute to Merle Haggard called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.” And, yes, the original title of the album was “I’m Not Dead.” Forever and ever, amen.