It is a marker of my musical ignorance that when I first heard “She Sells Sanctuary” on the radio, I thought it was a Tragically Hip song, and thus wasted some time fruitlessly searching for “sanctuary tragically hip lyrics” and reading up a lot of random stupid lyrics. For it had become stamped in my brain, even though I could not understand the lyrics being screamed and howled.

Then once, I was lucky enough to catch the name of the band after the song was aired. The Cult. Hmmm. Have I heard that name? Or not? I feel I have.

Anyway, typing “sanctuary the cult” instantly produced results. I looked with interest at the spectacle of Ian Astbury twirling and stamping, his face fierce and foul-tempered beneath the red bandana. He raises the mike and bashes it down, then stamp-dances around it. “the fire in your eyes…” he growls, and his voice shifts from melodic to rough and coarse. Pure performance and emotion, with no screeching, no anger and no hysterics. And yet the resemblance is clear. “Axl!” I exclaim. “Look, look! Axl “borrowed” from him! Who knew?”.
My interlocutors were mildly interested, and agreed, before moving on to more current topics. Who cares about Axl Rose or Ian Astbury now? I do, and I digged a bit more.
“See! ‘The as-yet- unknown GnR opened for The CultMatt Sorum used to play in both bands… ” I rested my case. Axl had swiped his style and look from The Cult, only like all successful swipings, re-worked into something much more exaggerated and flashy. He kept the bandana, but ditched Astbury’s flowy puffy sleeves and pirate waistcoats, and wore t-shirts and bicycle shorts on stage, dated a supermodel and entered a high profile slanging match with his lead guitarist. That is why, Gentle Reader, we have heard of Gun N Roses, but were not really sure whether we had ever heard of The Cult or not. That is why I thought “She Sells Sanctuary” was probably a ‘Hip song.

Now I stand corrected.
VARIOUS - 1992


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