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This song is about someone who has killed an Arab on a beach and is thinking about it in retrospect, observing the body.
This was inspired by Albert Camus' book The Stranger (also known as The Outsider). It is not a racist song, but still caused a lot of controversy because many people assumed so because of the title. The book deals with existentialism, and the title "Killing An Arab" was taken from a passage where the main character thinks about the emptiness of life after killing a man on a beach.
Camus published The Stranger in 1942. In 1957, he won the Nobel Prize for literature. He died in 1960 at age 46.
The title of The Cure singles collection Starring At The Sea is also a reference to this passage in Camus' book.
This was the Cure's first single. It was released on an independent label called Small Wonder. Six months later, it was re-released when they signed with Fiction Records.
Arab groups protested this song because of the title. For The Cure, it wasn't worth the trouble to defend it so they asked radio stations to stop playing it. At the time, any music considered controversial could get you on lists created by conservative groups who would then pressure radio stations not to play your songs and stores not to sell your music.
The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind
, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish
and Siamese Dream
A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.