Cursive’s 9 Most Emotionally Draining Songs, According To Tim Kasher
One should expect a Cursive song to be an emotional roller coaster. The Omaha, Nebraska-based indie rock band have been around for over twenty years now, thought of by many as one of the most influential architects of the modern emo scene. On albums like 2000’s Domestica and 2003’s The Ugly Organ, the band solidified its patented mixture of despondence and excitability that resonated deeply with heartsick normcore kids looking to feel less alone.
With such a pedigree, one would assume that your average Cursive track will leave any listener in an agitated and somewhat heartbroken state. But what about the person who actually has to sing these songs?
Last week, Cursive surprised us with the release of the fantastic Get Fixed LP, a companion of sorts to last year’s incredibly awesome full-length release, Vitriola. Both albums are the product of the band reuniting with founding drummer, Clint Schnase, resulting in some of the sharpest, rawest, and most poignant cuts they’ve produced in well over a decade.
To celebrate this new release — the band’s 9th LP — and find out just how much making this impassioned (often tortured) music might rip at the songwriter’s own heartstrings, we asked Cursive’s Tim Kasher to tell us which of the band’s songs have taken (or still take) the greatest psychic toll on him.
Here are Cursive’s 9 most emotionally draining songs — one from every album — according to the band’s frontman and co-founder.
Retirement (Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes, 1997)
This song carries much of the sentiment I sang of in my early twenties, the disillusionment of becoming an adult (kind of) and recognizing injustices in just about all facets of life, routinely sidestepped by society. It’s reminiscent of our first 7”, cA Disruption In The Normal Swing Of Things.
Absence Makes The Day Go Longer (The Storms Of Early Summer, 1998)
This is one of the earliest songs Cursive wrote, and became a sort of template for what we were seeking to achieve in songwriting. It was initially intended to be the opening track on our debut record, Such Blinding Stars…, but the recording was lost (recorded to DAT at the time, I think?), so we eventually re-recorded it for our second record, placing it at the end of that album.
As is the case with most of our songs, the person I was yelling at was myself; my inability to maintain any relationship that isn’t within my immediate grasp, like some lolling child distracted by whatever bauble happens to be placed in front of him at any given time.
The Game Of Who Needs Who The Worst (Cursive’s Domestica, 2000)
One could argue for a handful of these Domestica songs as being potentially draining, but The Game of Who… is particularly upsetting for me, and not altogether pleasant to perform live when I’m in a mood. The jealousy and pettiness are bilious; I hope listeners take note from songs such as these, rather than wallow in their own fits of malice.
Staying Alive (The Ugly Organ, 2003)
This song was actually written by Ted Stevens, so I often experience it as an audience member when playing it live, taking it in and responding to it, which truly wears me out on the right evening. As I’ve come to understand over years of testimonials, Ted has saved a lot of hurting people with this song; I’ll go ahead and add myself to that list, as there have been nights when it feels he’s singing directly to me.
Retreat! (Happy Hollow, 2006)
As I’ve said many times in the past, I’m a deeply spiritual person, it’s just that I don’t believe in any god. This song is about the closest to a ‘hymn’ that I’ve written; for me, it’s not unlike the most devout churchgoer singing ‘Hallelujah’ to their lord. As a child I learned that ‘Timothy’ means ‘God fearing’, a taunt I’ve been eager to overcome my entire life. “Lord, let us go.”
What Have I Done (Mama, I’m Swollen, 2009)
If I were to place these songs in order, this would surely top the list. An assessment of life up to the point of making this album. A mid-life crisis song, taking stock in how it’s all gone thus far, recognizing the ache won’t be much different on our death beds. But hopefully, through writing this, some of us can come together and be at peace with that.
“And you’re young and you’re gonna be someone, then you’re old and you’re ashamed of what you’ve become. Take a look around you, you’re preaching to the choir.” This generally knocks the wind out of me when performing live.
Eulogy For No Name (I Am Gemini, 2012)
This album, oddly, is by far the most fictional we’ve produced, yet in many ways the most personal as well. It’s a bit abstract, even for me, but I recognize a lot of struggle in there. Deconstructed, it’s an album about mental health, the duality of humanity, and perhaps trying to kill off the more vulgar side of oneself. This song is a eulogy for that.
Free To Be Or Not To Be You And Me (Vitriola, 2018)
We’ve been playing this song live quite a bit, so I suppose I can offer from recent memory how conflicted I tend to feel about it. It’s a nihilistic song, and though I tend to lean nihilist in belief, I don’t want the message to be misconstrued as mere, utter hopelessness. Rather, I’d like to think of it as a beacon for others who feel similarly, so perhaps they might feel less alone.
Regardless, it’s a newer song for us, so it feels good to get these thoughts off my chest, night after night, if not a tad exhausting.
Marigolds (Get Fixed, 2019)
This is a rather personal song about the ways we tend to distract ourselves in times of crisis. We steel ourselves for whatever outcome, no matter how detrimental, becoming clinical, passing time by staring out windows or memorizing artwork on walls.
We’ve yet to perform this song live, but sure, it was rather draining to write and execute.
Cursive will be touring a lot for the rest of the year.
The greatest British rock star of this generation truly struts his stuff headlining the Friday night of Download Pilot.