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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Killing an Arab/The Cure

"Killing an Arab" appears on The Cure's 1980 album Boys Don't Cry and depicts the key event in Albert Camus' 1942 existential novel The Stranger. The main character, Meursault--dazed by the Algerian heat and the sunlight reflecting off the sea and sand--shoots and kills an Arab who is standing on the beach. During his trial, Meursault is unable to account for the murder and expresses no remorse. He is ultimately sentenced to death. In the song, the narrator muses: I can turn/And walk away/Or I can fire the gun/Staring at the sky/Staring at the sun/Whichever I choose/It amounts to the same/Absolutely nothing. The chorus says: I am alive/I am dead/I am the stranger/Killing an Arab. Understandably controversial, the band has occasionally softened the lyrics in recent years to make it less inflammatory (e.g., "Kissing an Arab," "Killing another"). Several cover versions exist, including one by The Electric Hellfire Club, from the album 100 Tears: A Tribute to the Cure.

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