Cities in Dust (4:04)

Cover of Twice Upon a Time: The Singles

From Twice Upon a Time: The Singles and 30 other releases

“Cities in Dust” is a song written and produced by English rock band Siouxsie & the Banshees and released as the first single from their seventh studio album Tinderbox in 1985. The “Cities in Dust” 12-inch single was the first Banshees’ single-release in the United States, through Geffen Records.

The song obliquely describes the city of Pompeii, destroyed in a volcanic eruption in 79 CE. Imagery describing the volcano and its magma chamber, the condition of the victims of the eruption, and the subsequent discovery and excavation of the city comprises the bulk of the lyrics.

“Cities in Dust” was a more post-punk affair than singles released by Siouxsie & the Banshees in the previous several years. It also had more of a pop music melody than past releases from the band, although its cryptic lyrics were still dark, mentioning a shrine to Lares Familiares. Its upbeat 4/4 rhythm also made it a hit in danceclubs. “Cities in Dust” peaked at number twenty-one in the UK singles chart. Although not Siouxsie & the Banshees’ first song to hit the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart, it was their first significant hit, climbing to number seventeen.

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