Sunday, October 16, 2016

On Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature and Why Robert Smith is a Far Better Poet

This week it was announced that Bob Dylan won the nobel prize for literature. This came as a surprise to many seeing how the award appears based on his song lyrics for having “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

I, for one, gave pause and rubbed my chin.

I have no issue with Dylan getting the award as some of my other author friends. His lyrics are poetical and speak to the human condition in pointed folkish terms. Raw emotion flows through them and in my view great poetry cannot be created without it.

There are certainly others more deserving than Dylan, however. In the music field alone Robert Smith of The Cure penned a much greater body of work that towers over that of Dylan's.

In terms of volume (not that sheer number has anything to do with literary merit), Dylan has written around 375 songs. Robert Smith has given us around 150 with The Cure and his side projects. Dylan has more than doubled his output.

Many times Dylan clings to didactic poetical methods in his songs by delivering a moral. These preachy songs include "Trust Yourself" and "The Times, They are a Changing." There is nothing didactic in hardly any song by Robert Smith. He tells it like it is and leaves moral implications to the reader as any good poet should.

A host of Dylan songs are junior-highish in their over-handedness and chintz rhyming doggerel. Consider these lines from "Hurricane" (1976):

“How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed
To live in a land
Where justice is a game”

Now read the deep image lyrics of one of Robert Smith's water-themed songs "The Same Deep Water":

Kiss me goodby
Pushing out before I sleep
Can't you see I try
Swimming the same deep water as you is hard
The shallow drowned lose less than we
You breathe the strangest twist upon your lips
And we shall be together
And we shall be together

Kiss me goodbye
Bow your head and join with me
And face pushed deep reflections meet
The strangest twist upon your lips

And disappear the ripples clear
And laughing break against your feet
And laughing break the mirror sweet
So we shall be together
So we shall be together

Kiss me goodbye pushing out before I sleep
It's lower now and slower now
The strangest twist upon your lips
But I don't see and I don't feel

But tightly hold up silently
My hands before my fading eyes
And in my eyes your smile
The very last thing before I go
The very last thing before I go
The very last thing before I go

I will kiss you, I will kiss you
I will kiss you forever on nights like this
I will kiss you, I will kiss you
And we shall be together

A number of critics cite "Forever Young" as the finest of Dylan's lyrics. Do you feel there is a certain tongue-in-cheek plonk being delivered here? You be the judge:

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young

Robert Smith also addressed the physical world in "The Hanging Garden" where he again delights our Gothic sensibilities:

Creatures kissing in the rain
Shapeless in the dark again
In the hanging garden please don't speak
In the hanging garden no one sleeps

Catching halos on the moon
Gives my hands the shapes of angels
In the heat of the night the animals scream
In the heat of the night walking into a dream

Fall fall fall fall
Into the walls
Jump jump out of time
Fall fall fall fall
Out of the sky
Cover my face as the animals cry
In the hanging garden

Creatures kissing in the rain
Shapeless in the dark again
In the hanging garden change the past
In the hanging garden wearing furs and masks

Fall fall fall fall
Into the walls
Jump jump out of time
Fall fall fall fall
Out of the sky
Cover my face as the animals die
In the hanging garden

In the hanging garden

There is little comparison between the two and the world should take notice. Bob Dylan's overriding limitations as a poet is that the New York School of thought is tied to him like an anchor when it used to be his hot air balloon. Robert Smith's poetry rarely knows time or place and for that it should live forever.

#DylanNobelPrize #RobertSmithPoetry

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Best Ghost Short Stories 1850-1899 Anthology by Andrew Barger is Published!

October is the month for ghosts, which bring to mind two of my favorite Cure songs: "All Ghosts are Grey" and "Fear of Ghosts." That's why I'm happy to announce my latest anthology: Best Ghost Short Stories 1850-1899: A Phantasmal Ghost Anthology is now published! It contains the best ghost stories from the last half of the 19th century. It includes shocking tales from popular American and Victorian authors.

Andrew Barger (that would be me), award-winning author and editor of Phantasmal: Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849 and The Divine Dantes trilogy, has researched the finest ghost stories for the last half of the nineteenth century and combined them in one haunting collection. He has added his familiar scholarly touch by annotating the stories, providing story background information, author photos and a list of ghost stories considered to settle on the most frightening and well-written tales.

Victorians: Victors of the Ghost Story (2016) by Andrew Barger - Andrew sets the stage for this haunting ghost anthology.

The Upper Berth (1886) by Francis Marion Crawford - You will never think of cruising on a ship the same way after reading "The Upper Berth."

In Kropfsberg Keep (1895) by Ralph Adams Cram - A gothic setting yields a nightmare for a couple of "ghost hunters."

Lost Hearts (1895) by M. R. James - This early M. R. James classic ghost story is one of his best.

The Familiar (1872) by Joseph Le Fanu - Ever feel like you are being watched?

The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly (1886) by Rosa Mulholland - You will never view an organ the same way again.

No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal Man (1865) by Charles Dickens - Are the nervous habits of a train tracks operator all in his mind?

Hurst of Hurstcote (1893) by Edith Nesbit - A moldering house and--of course--ghosts.

The Judge's House (1891) by Bram Stoker - The author of Dracula never disappoints.

The Yellow Sign (1895) by Robert Chambers - A painter sees someone watching him from a busy New York street.

The Haunted and the Haunters (1859) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton - The oldest and most haunting ghost short story in the anthology and one that H. P. Lovecraft deemed the best haunted house story ever.

I am deeply and horribly convinced, that there does exist beyond this a spiritual world--a system whose workings are generally in mercy hidden from us--a system which may be, and which is sometimes, partially and terribly revealed. 
"The Familiar" 1872 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Buy today at Amazon: Best Ghost Short Stories 1850-1899

#BestGhostShortStories #BestGhostStoriesBook

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review of Phantasmal: The Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849 by the Examiner

Phantasmal: The Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849

Every so often a review of one of my books is so well-reasoned that I share with my friends. This week was no exception when Denise Longrie of the Examiner posted a review of Phantasmal: The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849.

Ms. Longrie did a nice job in pointing out the scope of the anthology: story backgrounds, list of ghost stories considered, preface (though not mentioning annotations and author photos). She goes on to review each story in the collection and concludes by giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

The review was a positive light on a very hard day for me. Thanks, Ms. Longrie, for caring about the early machinations of ghost short stories.

So what does this have to do with The Cure? In the preface to the collection I titled it "All Ghosts are Grey" and, of course, mention The Cure.

#BestGhostShortStories #ExaminerGhostReview

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Cure Setlist in Miami 2016

The Cure gave it all they had in the Miami heat last night, continuing their 2016 US tour is usual fashion by wowing fans with new set lists every night. June 26th was no exception with the first performance of "A Strange Day." The voice of Robert Smith was clear and easily reached above the classic music of the band.

Speaking of the band, it was tight, fronted by 5 world-class musicians, and backed by an array of digital backdrops that related to the particular song they were playing. It would have been more artistic if the backdrops had old photos of The Cure in certain places. The best one was "One Hundred Years" that depicted war scenes as the song punched the audience in the ears in unrelenting awesomeness. Enough said on this Cure blog:

If you are in Miami, try to get tickets to tonight's show, though it won't be easy seeing how it's sold out yet again. While you are at it, check out these cool stats about the number of songs The Cure has played from each album on this tour:

SET LIST - The Cure - Bayfront Park - Miami - June 26, 2016 - 18 Songs


Kyoto Song

A Night Like This


In Between Days

Pictures of You



The Walk

Sleep When I’m Dead

If Only Tonight We Can Sleep

This Twilight Garden


Just Like Heaven


From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea

alt. end




A Strange Day

The Hanging Garden

One Hundred Years


Piggy in the Mirror

Never Enough

Fascination Street




The Perfect Girl

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Wrong Number


Let’s Go to Bed

Close to Me

Why Can’t I Be You?

Boys Don’t Cry

#CureSetList #CureMiamiSet

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Cure Honor Prince with Purple Guitar in Minneapolis

The Cure played Minneapolis this week and delivered a four encore set that has become the norm for the best band on the planet. Yes, epic has become the norm for The Cure on their 2016 tour. Robert Smith played homage to the newly departed Prince by playing with a purple guitar. “The pressure of holding a purple guitar is really getting to me,” Smith said.

Here on The Cure blog I reported that Robert Smith listed "Starfish and Coffee" as his favorite Prince song from the 1980s. Cool, right? It's one of the purple one's more literary efforts and he even played it for the Muppets.

Robert Smith again paid homage to the song. On his guitar was written a lyric from "Starfish and Coffee": "it was 7:45 we were all in line" Check out the photos at Glide Magazine.

#RobertSmithPrince #SmithPurpleguitar

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Literary History of "Charlotte Sometimes" by The Cure

The Cure is currently touring the United States to wide acclaim given their amazing back catalogue of fantastic music. What's more, each concert has had a different playlist with some reaching five encores of artistic glory.

One classic Cure song that has been played at every concert so far is "Charlotte Sometimes," which Robert Smith wrote about the English time travel story. The video by The Cure is great, too.

Below is a repost of my blog and my impressions after reading the novel. Enjoy and go see The Cure if you are able!

I’ve recently read “Charlotte Sometimes” if for no other reason than to compare The Cure lyrics of their classic song Charlotte Sometimes to parts of the children’s fantasy. This is what I learned and it’s very interesting. ***Spoiler Alter***

All the faces, All the voices blur
Change to one face, Change to one voice

First sentence: By bedtime all the faces, the voices, had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice.

Prepare yourself for bed

Second sentence: She prepared herself for bed . . . .

The light seems bright, And glares on white walls

Book 2nd paragraph, 6th sentence: The light seemed to bright for them, glaring on white walls . . . .

All the sounds of

Book 4th paragraph, 4th sentence: All the sounds about her . . . .

Charlotte sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte sometimes

Book 5th paragraph, 1st sentence: She must have slept at last . . . .

Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark

Part II, chapter 4, 1st sentence:  Night after night, Charlotte lay in bed with her eyes open to the dark . . . .

The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry

Part II, chapter 4, paragraph 15, 1st sentence: The streets looked strange . . . .

The people seemed so close
Playing expressionless games

Part II, chapter 2, paragraph 24, 3rd sentence: Charlotte, on the other hand, became absorbed, concentrating wholly on her fingers’ easing . . . .

The people seemed so close
So many other names

Part II, chapter 2, paragraph 37: “Good night, Mr. Chisel Brown,” she said with almost a curtsy. “Good night, Mrs. Chisel Brown. Good night, Miss Agnes Chisel Brown. Good night, cat. Good night, dog . . ..”

When all the other people dance - Reference to school dance

Expressionless the trance - Reference to séance

So many different names - Reference to names of Brown family

The sounds all stay the same - Reference to airplane sounds overhead

On a different world - Past that Charlotte travels to

On that bleak track
(See the sun is gone again)
The tears were pouring down her face
She was crying and crying for a girl
Who died so many years before

 Part III, chapter 2, paragraph 53, 1st sentence: On that bleak track, the sun almost gone again, tears were pouring down her face. She was crying and crying for a girl for a girl who had died more than 40 years before.

Charlotte sometimes crying for herself

Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 13, last sentence: She began crying bitterly, could not stop . . . .

Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself

Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 10, 1st sentence: She dreamed she stood below the picture, The Mark of the Beast, and there were soldiers all around her in red uniforms, stiff as toys but tall as men. There were dolls, too, like Miss Agnes’s doll, as tall as the soldiers . . .

Glass sealed and pretty

Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 15, 4th sentence: And when she looked at the wall at the picture glass, it looked quite empty, as if a mirror hung there, not a picture at all.

Get my goth books here:

#CharlotteSometimesCure #CharlotteSometimesBook

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Cure Houston Concert 2016

The Cure

The Cure, which is killing it on their US tour, just played the best concert of the year in Houston. Read about it here and check out the fantastic set list:

A Night Like This
Pictures of You
A Strange Day
In Between Days
Just Like Heaven
The Last Day of Summer
At Night
Play for Today
Shake Dog Shake
The Hungry Ghost
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
One Hundred Years

It Can Never Be the Same

Step Into the Light
Fascination Street
Never Enough
Wrong Number

The Lovecats
Close to Me
The Caterpillar
The Walk
Let's Go to Bed
Why Can't I Be You?

A Forest
Boys Don't Cry

#TheCure #CureSetList

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Did Robert Smith of the Cure Like Prince

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Prince died this week on Robert Smith's birthday -- April 21st.

It's difficult to tell whether Robert Smith of The Cure was a fan of Prince. After lots of searches I have been unable to find an interview where he mentions him. But one thing is for sure, Robert Smith thinks his Starfish and Coffee was one of the best songs of the 1980s and he listed it as such in a poll he did.  The song can be found on Prince's Sign 'O' the Times album.

Above is a one minute take. Enjoy!

#PrinceTheCure #StarfishandCoffee

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Cure Albums Ranked from 13-1 by PopMatters

Check out this link where PopMatters ranks every album by The Cure.

This is how I rank them. In my view The Top is completely underrated. Agree?

1. Disintegration
2. Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
3. Pornography
4. Head on the Door
5. Seventeen Seconds
6. The Top
7. Wish
8. Bloodflowers
9. Faith
10. Three Imaginary Boys
11. The Cure
12. 4:13 Dream
13. Wild Mood Swings

#CureAlbumsRanked #TheCureBand

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Alternative Rock Love Story Trilogy Published - The Divine Dantes by Andrew Barger

$.99 Ebook

“[A] lively and good-natured work with a great deal of humor . . ..”
Publisher’s Weekly Reviewer

“[R]eminds me a little of the fun I find in Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Moore, but he definitely has his own vibe . . ..”
Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

A Best Second Novel award finalist in the Indie Book Awards, "The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades" is the first in a trilogy of laugh-out-loud books paralleling Dante Alighieri's classic poem, The Divine Comedy, where the characters of The Inferno are encountered in modern times with surprising results. At the center is Eddie, a young rocker who loves The Cure and alternative music. He is heartbroken after his girlfriend, Beatrice, leaves for Venice. This not only ends their relationship, but also the world's greatest two-person rock band. At Beatrice's request, Virgil-their erstwhile manager-cum-travel-agent guides Eddie to Europe to meet her without Eddie being in on the secret. Will Eddie want to see Beatrice? Will the band get back together? And if it does, can Eddie settle on a name for it? Read the first novel in this literary, rock, love story today!

$0.99 Ebook

Book 2 of The Divine Dantes's Infernal Trilogy finds Eddie and Virgil in Barcelona, Spain. Eddie, the young rocker with an active mind, thinks they are there to get on a cruise. Virgil, however, has tricked Eddie and arranged for Bea to secretly meet them. Meantime, Virg and Eddie visit famous Barcelona landmarks (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, La Rambla Street, etc) as Eddie adds his trademark commentary. Will Eddie speak to Bea when she arrives? And if he will, does their two-person band get back together?

$1.99 Ebook

In this final volume of The Divine Dantes trilogy series, Eddie finds himself on a cruise with his beloved Beatrice. There will be mayhem, love and of course rock-n-roll.

Buy the trilogy today and get ready to rock on in a Divine Comedy way.

#DivineDantes #DivineComedy #RockNovels