|A-side "Charlotte Sometimes"|
Format 7" and 12" vinyl
|Released 5 October 1981|
Genre Post-punk gothic rock
|B-side "Splintered in Her Head"|
Recorded 16–17 July 1981 at Playground Studio, England
"Charlotte Sometimes" is a song by English rock band The Cure, recorded at producer Mike Hedges' Playground Studios and released as a non-album single on 5 October 1981 by Polydor Records, following the band's third studio album Faith. The titles and lyrics to both sides were based on the book Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer.
The single reached number 44 in the UK charts.
The song "Charlotte Sometimes" is based on Charlotte Sometimes, a children's novel by English writer Penelope Farmer, published in 1969. According to Robert Smith: "There have been a lot of literary influences through the years; 'Charlotte Sometimes' was a very straight lift." Many lines in the song reflect lines directly from the book, such as "All the faces/All the voices blur/Change to one face/Change to one voice" from the song compared to the first sentence of the book, "By bedtime all the faces, the voices, had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice." The song continues: "Prepare yourself for bed/The light seems bright/And glares on white walls", and the book continues, "She prepared herself for bed... The light seemed too bright for them, glaring on white walls..." The title of the single's B-side, "Splintered in Her Head", is also taken from a line in the novel. The Cure would later release another song based on the novel, "The Empty World", from their 1984 album The Top.
The mood of B-side "Splintered in Her Head" is overall more disquieting, with metallic, distorted vocals and heavy percussion, foreshadowing the sound and feel of the band's next studio album, Pornography. The ten-minute live version of "Faith" on the B-side of the 12" version of the single was recorded at the Sydney Capitol Theatre in August 1981 by the then-Australian Broadcasting Commission's youth radio station 2JJJ. This version is reproduced on the second disc of the deluxe reissue of the album Faith.
The cover of the single is a distorted picture of Mary Poole, Robert's then-girlfriend and to-be wife. The same picture was used again as the cover of The Cure's 1990 single "Pictures of You", but with the picture clear and undistorted.
The single was recorded over 16 and 17 July 1981 at Mike Hedges' Playground Studio, named by Robert Smith, in between European festival dates and an upcoming North American tour. Production was overseen by Hedges and the band itself.
On advice by Fiction label owner Chris Parry, the music video for "Charlotte Sometimes" was filmed at Holloway Sanatorium. It features the character of Charlotte recreating scenes from the story in the presence of the band, while Smith mimes the words of the song.
The video has been called "a major mistake" by biographer Jeff Apter, denouncing it as "ranking among the worst of the band's small-screen career".
The song reached number 44 in the UK Singles Chart.
Live takes were included on the Concert and Paris albums.
All tracks written by The Cure (Robert Smith, Simon Gallup and Lol Tolhurst).