Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” Inspires The Cure’s “Killing an Arab”

When the Cure released the album “Boys Don’t Cry” in 1980 the English band always dealt with having to explaining a song that was deemed racist by many at the time.

The cries to censor the rock band’s first single “Killing an Arab” came from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a civil-rights organization, when a radio deejay confused the song with an anti-Arab anthem.

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A 1946 first-edition cover to “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

With incendiary lyrics “I’m alive…I’m dead…I’m a stranger…Killing an Arab,” a lot of music fans overlooked the fact that the tune simply retold a scene in the short novel “The Stranger” by French writer Albert Camus.

“If there’s one thing I would change, it’s the title,” lyricist Robert Smith told Chart Attack, a Canadian music online publication, in 2001. “I wrote it when I was still in school and I had no idea that anyone would ever listen to it other than my immediate school friends.”

But many did.

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The disclaimer labeled on the album “Standing on a Beach.”

So, in order to clear the negative connotations from the song the record company labeled the 1987 album “Standing on a Beach,” which started of with the “Arab” song, with Smith’s statement:

“The song ‘Killing an Arab’ has absolutely no racist overtones whatsoever. It is a song which decries the existence of all prejudice and consequent violence. The Cure condemn its use in furthering anti-Arab feeling.”

Till the day, you can still find rare copies of the album with the disclaimer label.

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2 Comments

Filed under Albert Camus

2 responses to “Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” Inspires The Cure’s “Killing an Arab”

  1. Pingback: J.D. Salinger’s Short Story Inspired The Cure’s Robert Smith | From Novels to Notes

  2. Pingback: The Littlest Misanthrope | Are You Finished Yet?

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