The Cure – 10.15 Saturday Night / Killing An Arab

17th March 2023 · 1970s, 1979, Music

The Cure made their debut in 1979 with a single containing 10.15 Saturday Night and Killing An Arab, two songs dating back to Robert Smith’s mid-teens.

The 16-year-old Robert Smith wrote this song late one evening in his parents’ kitchen in Crawley, drinking his dad’s home-brewed ale and idly watching the sink tap drip, drip, drip…

Perhaps he was pondering the existential subtext of the Camus novella he had been reading, because he was so entranced by L’Étranger that he wrote a song about that too.

Both of them appeared on the debut single by The Cure.

Of course there were those then, and are inevitably more of them now, who were too dim to grasp the Camus reference and thought the latter song was actually​ inciting listeners to go out there and fatally injure an Algerian, like Meursault, the protagonist of the novel – “The Stranger” of the title (or, as it has been retitled, “The Outsider”).

But they are fools, like the far-right fuckwits in America who embraced the song as an inducement to murder Middle Eastern-looking people, resulting in Smith asking radio stations not to play the song any more.

I’m pleased to find that after a period of not playing the song themselves – and, latterly, changing the words to kissing​ an Arab, and the title variously to Killing Another and Killing An Ahab – Robert Smith has made peace with his original lyric and singing it again.

As he said at the time, ruing the fact that he had not called something less controversial like Standing On The Beach: “It just happened that the main character in the book had actually killed an Arab, but it could have been a Scandinavian or an English bloke.”

I’m still cheesed off, though, that the record company cravenly couldn’t find space for it on the repackaged debut album with an extra disc.

Having said all that, this is the flip side because it’s a better song, and features one of my favourite miniature guitar solos, and is the one that persuaded Chris Parry to sign them to his new record label, Fiction.