Birdmad Girl

Album: The Top (1984)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Birdmad Girl," about a young girl in a mental institution, was inspired by the Dylan Thomas poem "Love In The Asylum," which depicts "a girl mad as birds."
  • 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 Seconds [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 program. 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.
  • Robert Smith ran himself ragged while writing and recording the album, which probably accounts for its relatively poor reception. While fronting his own band, he was also a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees, who were putting together their Hyaena album while The Cure were working on The Top. Eventually, Smith realized he could no longer burn the candle and both ends for the sake of his health and decided to focus all his effort on The Cure. (He quit the Banshees just days before they were set to go on tour, which incited a longstanding feud with outspoken leader Siouxsie Sioux.)

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.
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