The Cure frontman Robert Smith wrote this for his wife Mary, who he commonly refers to as "M."
This might explain Smith's rather evasive answer to the inspiration for the song: "about a girl..." (Curenews, 1989).
The lyrics are even more cryptic, though perhaps most revealing is the opening line "hello image," which, given what we know about the inspiration of the song, seems to equate Mary with the reflection of Smith himself.
Seventeen Seconds is the second Cure album. The band was keeping the songs simple as they were refining their sound. "Their ultimate strength is their minimalism," drummer Lol Tolhurst wrote in his memoir.
Period from OhioI agree with Anon from the UK...the M intro sounds really similar to the About a Girl intro so I think the quote has to be related, but which came first? On wikipedia it says Kurt Cobain was inspired to write it after listening to The Beatles & it doesn’t mention The Cure, but I’d be really surprised if he hadn’t been listening to this song around the time he wrote it.
Anon from UkI think “cryptic” answer from Robert Smith on what this song is about probably also a rather sarcastic remark about the strong similarity of a particular Nirvana song which uses a similar chord structure and lyrical content
Mary Smith from Capital Federal, ArgentinaThis song is in the album seventeen seconds, and when robert writted this song he was having couple- problems with mary. Hear the song again and its all about conflicts etc... ``you love someone else´´
Charlotte Smith from El Paso, Txwhat does the song mean?