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January 26th, 2006

SOTD @ 10:26 pm

bonoffee:
Bit late today, sorry folks, but here we have Thursday's Song of the Day which is...

She's A Mystery To Me

a.k.a. the best U2 song they never kept for themselves. In my opinion, at least!

This is the song Bono and Edge wrote for that great singer, Roy Orbison. In 'Into The Heart' it mentions the fact Bono wanted to write a "truly classic song" and wanted someone amazing to sing it. "She's A Mystery To Me" is the perfect song for someone of Roy Orbison's talent and stature. He has the kind of honest, plaintive voice that really suits the mood of the song and the lyric. I'm a fan of much of his stuff anyway, so of course I love his version. I haven't heard it often and don't have it to upload, maybe someone else could oblige and be so kind.

However this is a U2 community so I am singing the praises of U2's own rendition of that beautiful song. In 'Into The Heart' it states nicely that it's "a song that was both so characteristically their own and yet so beautifully and accurately weighted for Orbison." This is so true and why it works so well with either artist performing. There are a few versions but the one I'm going to upload is the live one from Brooklyn Bridge in 2004. I sometimes wish they'd do a 'definitive' but I enjoy the atmosphere of the live tracks so much it doesn't really matter.

The main reason why I adore this song is its lyrics. We all know that Bono is a brilliant lyricist and here he does it again, producing a bitter-sweet tale of a man unable to drag himself away from the spell of a woman. As with my song choice last week ("Hallelujah Here She Comes") once again we have the image of woman as the temptation, irresistible, on a pedestal, except here there is, to me, more pain involved for sure. The lyrics to the 'proper' Orbison version are, unsurprisingly, longer and more involved than whatever Bono managed to remember at Brooklyn ;) It's all about night-time, the enigma of a woman, how someone can be so entranced and so captured without knowing that much about the other person. We've probably all been there to some extent at one time, and it's this realism and resonance that gives the song its edge.

The live version is gorgeous with Bono seemingly at random deciding to play a rarely-heard gem, then the others join in until he turns to Larry for help ending the song! I'm going to include both sets of lyrics for y'all from u2wanderer.org.

Fave lyric:
In the night of love
Words tangled in her hair
Words soon to disappear
A love so sharp it cut
Like a switchblade to my heart
Words tearing me apart


Darkness falls and she
Will take me by the hand
Take me to some twilight land
Where all but love is gray
Where I can't find my way
Without her as my guide

Night falls, I'm cast beneath her spell
Daylight comes, our heaven turns to hell
Am I left to burn, and burn eternally?
She's a mystery to me

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl

In the night of love
Words tangled in her hair
Words soon to disappear
A love so sharp it cut
Like a switchblade to my heart
Words tearing me apart

She tears again my bleeding heart
I wanna run, she's pulling me apart
Fallen angel cries
And I just melt away
She's a mystery to me

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl

Haunted by her side
It's a darkness in her eyes
That so enslaves me
But if my love is blind
Then I don't want to see
She's a mystery to me

Night falls, I'm cast beneath her spell
Daylight comes, our heaven turns to hell
Am I left to burn, and burn eternally?
She's a mystery to me

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's... a mystery girl

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl

She's... a mystery girl


Darkness falls and she
Will take me by the hand
Take me to some twilight land
Where all but love is gray
And I need find my way
Without her as my guide

Night comes, I'm fast beneath her spell
Daylight comes, our heaven turns to hell
Am I left to burn, and burn eternally?
She's a mystery to me

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She... is a mystery girl

In the night of love
Words tangled in her hair
Words soon to disappear
A love so sharp it cut
Like a switchblade to my heart
Words tearing me apart

Night falls, I'm cast beneath her spell
Daylight comes, our heaven turns to hell
Am I left to burn, and burn eternally?
She's a mystery to me

She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She's a mystery girl
She... a mystery

Not quite sure how to end this


Song uploaded to YSI here, if someone could then put it in Gmail I'd appreciate it as my computer will die if I even try!

Thanks and goodnight, more next week!

EDIT: Realised I have said nothing of note about the music of the song - it probably shows that I am the typical English Lit student obsessed by the poetic/language side to the omission of all else. ;) Anyway, as a short-hand version, Larry's gentle drums, Adam's low-key bass and Edge's beautiful guitar all contribute to make the live 'random' track sound like it had always meant to be. :)
 
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Comments

 
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From:hbpen
Date:January 26th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
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Downloaded! Thank you so much! You're right, this is beautiful! :D
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From:canadanne
Date:January 26th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)

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Guh, I adore Roy Orbison's version - he's one of my favourite vocalists anyway, and this gorgeous song is perfect for him. I don't think U2 themselves could ever better that rendition!  I'll write some more thoughts about both artists' versions at the weekend, hopefully.

I am loving your SOTD choices so far!
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From:hbpen
Date:January 26th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
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Do you have Roy's version that you could YSI? I'd never heard *any* version of this song before, and I'd sure love to hear Roy doing it. (He had such a great voice... RIP)
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From:canadanne
Date:January 26th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
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I don't have it on the computer, sorry... but someone here is bound to!

I do have an MP3 of U2 performing the song in Dublin in 1989... and I *did* have some footage of the Maida Vale session in 2000 when they performed a bit of it, but for some reason it's now saying the file is corrupted. Gutted...
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From:bonoffee
Date:January 26th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
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I have a version from Boston 2001, I think, which I will try to upload tomorrow for everyone.
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From:canadanne
Date:January 27th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)

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Right, I've ripped an MP3 from the CD. :)  Here is Roy's version...

Do enjoy!
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From:hbpen
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!!!! :D
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From:tinamachina
Date:January 29th, 2006 01:21 pm (UTC)
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Wow...that was gorgeous! Thanks!
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From:canadanne
Date:January 29th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
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Stunning isn't it. :)
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From:canadanne
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
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Here's another one for you... U2 live in Dublin, 30th December 1989: WMA or MP3. :)
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From:hbpen
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)

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Oh, thank you again!! :D
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From:edibleflowers
Date:January 27th, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
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My God in heaven, I love this song. Possibly one of my favorite things they ever wrote.
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From:rockingthemike
Date:January 27th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
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I can not gush about this song enough. I have not actually heard Orbison's version (must download it at some point), but I love the live rendition from New York in 2004. If canadanne says the Orbison version is better than Bono's (which I adore), then I can only imagine what the original is like.
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From:canadanne
Date:January 27th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
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I've just uploaded Roy Orbison's version if you're interested in hearing it. Hope you like it. :)
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From:rockingthemike
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
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Okay.... wow!.... just... wow!

Thanks so much for sharing this :D
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From:canadanne
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)

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You're extremely welcome!
From:achtungeternal
Date:January 27th, 2006 02:40 am (UTC)
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While I love that song, let me just be off-topic for a moment concerning your icon: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN IS BIG FREAKIN' LOVE. <33333
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From:bonoffee
Date:January 27th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Hee, I SO agree with you. :D
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From:zoostation
Date:January 27th, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)

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Downloaded and uploading to gmail.
:D

I'd never heard this before, thanks!
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From:inklingfair
Date:January 27th, 2006 07:29 am (UTC)
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Darkness falls and she
Will take me by the hand
Take me to some twilight land
Where all but love is gray


Beautiful. It even sounds a bit Tolkien-ish.
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From:canadanne
Date:January 28th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
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Hmm... I think this review has the potential to be as epic as the one I just wrote for Stateless. *g*  But I hope not, as I was intending to get a bit of sleep at some point...

I'm gonna start by reviewing Roy Orbison's version, as that's the definitive one, and Bono & Edge wrote it for him in the first place so I guess this is how it's "supposed" to sound. It's also my favourite, as I mentioned before. :)

I totally agree with what you wrote about the Big O's voice being perfectly suited to the mood of the song, it's so rich and emotive. And he had such an incredible range, so he absolutely nails those long falsetto notes towards the end - it raises the hairs on my neck every time. Definitely my favourite part of the song. He really was one of the best singers of all time, IMHO... it's sad that he's no longer around, but at least his spirit lives on in amazing songs like this.

The music is just so... majestic, there's a seemingly effortless beauty to it. Right from the intro with the soft thumping of the drums, you know it's going to be something special. And when the piano comes in, mmm, what a gorgeous combination of sounds. It's so melodic, and I adore the way it all seems to build up into this glorious crescendo towards the end... wow, it just leaves me with goosebumps all over. Magical.

Lyrically, it's completely stunning. Has to be up there with Bono's finest lyrics of any song - the use of metaphor (especially on a nighttime and heaven/hell theme) just melts me from the inside out, it's so beautifully poetic. I don't think I can even pick out favourite lines because *every* line is solid gold. The rhyming is so skilfully done as well, it all flows wonderfully and nothing sounds forced. And of course "But if my love is blind, then I don't want to see" is rather familiar... this song does have the same hauntingly aching quality as Love Is Blindness, which I also adore.

That's a great quote you dug up about why the song works equally well when performed by either artist. Bono's voice is also ideal for this song, he has the same kind of warm but brooding tones. U2's renditions tend not to be as musically cohesive as the Orbison version, though, IMHO. The Brooklyn Bridge performance is nice enough (especially as a spur of the moment bonus song), but the song doesn't feel quite as heartwrenching when it's stripped down to the bare essentials. And sadly, Bono was obviously struggling with his voice a wee bit on that particular day, so he barely manages to hit the high notes and can't hold them. I found myself wincing slightly when I listened to it on the All Because Of You single... it's understandable that Bono will forget lyrics and falter with his vocals sometimes, but I'm surprised they choose to release such flawed performances on official CDs. Still, he got further with it this time than he did with the impromptu performance on Radio 1 a few years back, IIRC (I can't be arsed to go and dig out my cassette tape of that one!).

The Dublin performance from 1989 is much better in that respect, as obviously Bono's voice was in considerably better shape back then, so he could really do the song justice. Falsetto notes and all. Again though, musically it's not a patch on Roy's version - they play it way too fast, the instrumental break feels a bit directionless, and I'm not sure the brass backing is entirely appropriate for such a delicate song. Ah well, it's still fun to hear them perform this song at all - they're obviously proud of it (and rightly so), even though it's not technically a U2 song. I agree that it would be nice if U2 would record their own lush studio version. :)
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From:tinamachina
Date:January 29th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
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I love that song, but I could never find it. It was one of my favorite moments from the Brooklyn performance (no, I wasn't there, but it was on DirecTV Freeview.)

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