On December 21st, 1978 The Cure released their debut single, “Killing An Arab”. The song featured an Middle Eastern guitar motif, inspired by the Siouxsie and the Banshees single “Hong Kong Garden” which was released earlier that year.
Lyrically, the song was based on Camus’ book The Stranger (sometimes translated as The Outsider), which is the existential story of a young man named Meursault who kills an Arab for no apparent reason, shooting the man with his gun on a beach, dehydrated, with the sun glaring in his eyes.
When put on trial for his crime, instead of being judged for murdering a human being, the focus is instead on the fact that Meursault did not cry at his mother’s funeral.
With such a provocative title, “Killing An Arab” did cause controversy; The Cure’s first compilation of singles, Standing on a Beach, whose title was a lyric taken from the track, featured a sticker on its packaging advising against racist usage of the song.
In recent years the song’s lyrics have sometimes being changed to “Kissing An Arab” or “Killing Another.”
The b-side on the single is the track “10:15 Saturday Night”, which also has it’s own music video.