Birdmad Girl

Songfacts®:

  • Written about a young girl in a mental institution Robert Smith read about in a British newspaper.
  • The track features typically cryptic lyrics, most notably the repeated line "Oh, I should be a polar bear." According to Smith, "The Polar Bear was a symbol (zoo-wise) for me insensible savagery caged to be stared at. Or something like that..."

    Indeed, the line does seem to reflect the sympathetic tone of the lyrics. Smith appears to empathize with the girl, who recognizes "burns with love." He refuses to perceive her through the stigma often surrounding mental illness; she is not defined by her illness, but instead "flies outside this cage singing girl mad words."
  • In an interview during the recording of the album, bassist Lol Tolhurst said of the song: "It was inspired by a Dylan Thomas book. It was written by Robert. It talks about a mad woman. It's funky. It was written during The Seventeen Second's [the band's 1980 second album] era." (Libération, 1984)
  • Chris Packham, the British naturalist and presenter of BBC nature series Springwatch, set himself the challenge of name dropping The Cure's songs during the programme. He referenced this song in the opening episode of the 2010 series. In the 12 episode series run, he reference 33 other titles, including "Killing An Arab." In the following series, he moved on to referencing fellow British band The Smiths.

Comments: 4

  • Samantha from Chicago, IlActually, the title is a reference to the poem "Love in the Asylum" by Dylan Thomas about a young man in an insane asylum who falls in love with a girl "mad as birds,"
  • Sherpa from Rotterdam, NetherlandsThe polar bear refers to the song "Eisbär", recorded by the fabulous Swiss Neue Welle band "Grauzone".
    "Ich möchte ein Eisbär sein, im kalten Polar, dann müsste ich nie mehr weinen, alles wär so klar" Translated "I wish I was a polar bear, on the freezing pole, I would never have to cry again, everything would be so clear."

    But Robert notices that it is impossible to be a polar bear.
  • Miras from Astana, KazakhstanThe mental girl (name of the song) is also mentioned in the lyrics of another Cure song 'Burn' (The Crow soundtrack). One of my favourites, both song and the picture.

    don't look, don't look
    the shadows breathe
    whispering me away from you
    don't wake at night to watch her sleep
    you know that you will always see
    this trembling, adored, toussled bird-mad girl

    Miracle, The Cure fan
  • Ali from Wine, Cawell. id sure love to be that girl. this song actually isnt that bad. its good, especially since its one of Roberts early works; the background and melody are fine, and i think its just not too popular, considering the name and the thought on the song. and whats with the polar bear anyway?
    i just wish i could read that article.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

N.W.A vs. the World

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Jeff Trott

Jeff TrottSongwriter Interviews

Sheryl Crow's longtime songwriting partner/guitarist Jeff Trott reveals the stories behind many of the singer's hits, and what its like to be a producer for Leighton Meester and Max Gomez.

American Hits With Foreign Titles

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.