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February 10th, 2006

SOTD @ 01:35 am

bonoffee:
I am very sorry for the lateness of today's SOTD, but I've had such trouble getting onto LJ, it's been awful!

After last night, I think the unofficial SOTD should be SYCMIOYO, because it did so well and is a great reflection on U2's achievements. However, as a proper SOTD it's already been done :p so I give you today's (plus essay), which is...


Slow Dancing from the Stay (Faraway, So Close!) single

This is another song that started life destined for a music legend. Bono had Willie Nelson's voice in mind when he started work on this song, a broken country ballad about the effects of a woman. This then follows on from my last two choices in their themes, but the portrayals are all very different. This one is heartfelt and yes, romantic, but as it's U2's venture into country music, it's not without its bitter undertones. Country music itself is rarely about straightforward love, and neither is U2's music. Combine the two, and what you get is both powerful, beautiful and heartbreakingly wonderful. And this is before you add in Willie Nelson's astounding vocals!

As the story goes, Bono sent the song off to Willie and when he didn't hear back, he assumed Willie wasn't interested, didn't like the song. In fact Bono was convinced he'd blown his chances of that, and I feel I have to quote from the Orange Bible here:

"He [Bono] was so excited about the song that the day after he wrote it he told a TV interviewer that he had just written a song for Willie Nelson. Before he had made any contact with Nelson. MTV picked up the item and broadcast it.

"'Can you imagine?' Bono says. 'Willie Nelson, one of the greatest songwriters alive, hearing me on TV saying I've written a song for him. Without his asking for it! He probably thought, "Well, fuck you."' Bono shudders at the thought."


That wasn't the case at all, but it wasn't until 1997 that the man himself was in Dublin and able to do anything about the song. In the meantime, a U2-only version of the song was put on the B-side to Stay (Faraway, So Close!) which I think contrasts it well with the mood of the A-side.

When I say U2 version, I think I'm stretching a point. It's Bono and Edge and a guitar. Bono's voice is soft but brittle, awe-struck but reverent, familiar but distracted. He's backed, gently, by Edge. It's the typical tale of a man bewitched by his woman, in this case when she takes him "slow dancing". Which I think could mean many things but I find it nice to imagine just that - a couple dancing to slow music, finding each other, getting lost in one another. That comes across in the lyrics, too, which again are brilliant. Of course there is the other side of love, too, the mysterious side which was explored in 'She's A Mystery To Me', especially in my favourite lyrics:

My love is restless as the wind
She moves like a shadow across my skin
She left with my conscience, I don't want it back
It just gets in the way


A man helpless at the actions of a woman he adores, not wishing to think of the consequences of his actions. Which brings to mind another point: is it a song of infidelity? To my mind, very possibly, considering that's a major subject matter of country music and a major subject of Achtung Baby, which preceded it. The kind of thing Willie Nelson would sing perfectly. Which of course he does, on the 'If God Will Send...' single, showing up the sparse music and low-key vocals of the U2-only version. Willie's voice soars and brings to the track world-weary experience and knowledge and when Bono joins in on the chorus, he becomes a backing singer and Willie steals the show.

But of course, that was Bono's intention all along. U2's 'solo' version isn't as good in my opinion, but I love it on its own charming merits. And so should you! ;)


My love is cruel as the night
She steals the sun, and shuts out the light
All of my colors, they turn to blue
Win or lose

She does it slow dancing
Slow dancing
She does it slow dancing
All night long

Scarlet eyes and a see-through heart
She saw me coming right from the start
She picked me up, but had me down on my knees
Just a begging her, begging her please

Take me slow dancing
Slow dancing
She took me slow dancing
All night long

And I don't know why a man
Search for himself in his lovers eyes
No I don't know why a man
Sees the truth but needs the lies

My love is restless as the wind
She moves like a shadow across my skin
She left with my conscience, I don't want it back
It just gets in the way

If you wanna go slow dancing
Slow dancing
She took me slow dancing
All night long

Slow dancing
Slow dancing
Slow...



Due to the above net problems, I haven't managed an upload but I will try my best to do it for you tomorrow. I am truly sorry!

I'd promise to write less next week, but we all know that ain't gonna happen. ;) See you next Thursday!
 
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From:socialcrazed
Date:February 10th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
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I happened across the "Stay!" single by accident when rummaging around in a poorly populated factory outlet store in Tupelo, MS. I bought it mostly for the live songs that were on it (ZooTV-era "Love is Blindess" and "Bullet the Blue Sky", for those of you that don't have the version that I have), but to my pleasant surprise, "Slow Dancing" ended up being my favorite piece off of it. I have yet to hear the Willie Nelson version, and I'm not all that interested in hearing it, because it's hard for me to imagine anyone topping Bono's rendition.
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From:herlifeisbroken
Date:February 10th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
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Oi, Kat, I don't have this. Obviously you need to send it to me :D

I loved your essay! And I'm glad you got on LJ long enough to post SOTD.
From:sabneraznik
Date:February 10th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
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This song takes my breath away. It is perfection. Before I lost it to a virus (my entire hard drive got wiped), it was the most played song on Itunes. I do miss it much. It's sexy, poetic, inspiring.
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From:canadanne
Date:February 11th, 2006 04:10 am (UTC)

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The Stay single is probably the best U2 single package ever... no wonder it's so bloody difficult to find, and so frelling expensive when you do find it!  I really treasure my copy.

Slow Dancing is an utterly gorgeous song (I overuse that word so much on Song Of The Day, I know!!). I adore both versions and I don't think I could ever pick a favourite, they both bring different qualities to the song. No doubt I'll have a chance to talk about the Willie Nelson collaboration some other time, but for now I'll concentrate on the U2-only acoustic version.

Combine the two, and what you get is both powerful, beautiful and heartbreakingly wonderful. And this is before you add in Willie Nelson's astounding vocals! <-- wow, I think you've already summed it up pretty well there, I don't think I can come up with a better choice of words!  It's one of those perfectly bittersweet ballads that U2 are so good at - dark and angsty but also laced with aching romance that makes your heart melt. And whilst this original version isn't as musically rich or polished as the later recording, I think it captures the melancholy better. It's so much more downbeat, like a late night rendition, and Bono's vocals are incredibly tender and bruised... really haunting. I love Edge's soft "do do-do do, do do-do do" backing vocals during the bridge, and I also love the way Bono sings the word "shadow" in the final verse!  Plus I like the way this version ends - it trails off almost as if Bono just gets lost in his thoughts, or can't bear to dwell on the subject any longer, which I think is slightly more emotionally effective than the sense of closure you get at the end of the 1997 version.

Other thoughts on the song in general - well, the poetry of the lyrics is stunning, it's definitely in a similar vein to She's A Mystery To Me. I can't *really* choose any favourite lines because I like them all, but I suppose I'd highlight the opening verse if I was absolutely forced to narrow it down. I can't believe some people play this song at their weddings, with lyrics like "My love is cruel as the night / She steals the sun and shuts out the light / All of my colours turn to blue, win or lose"!  I also like the line "I don't know why a man sees the truth but needs the lies", it's so true.

The melody is beautiful, it's certainly an ideal song for slow dancing, at least in a musical sense. There's a lovely flow and contrast between the verses, chorus and bridge. And the vocal harmonies on both versions are wonderful, it's one of the standout features of the song.

I hope I've covered everything... this is one of those songs that deserves a thorough review!


To save you the trouble, I've ripped and uploaded both versions:
~ U2 acoustic
~ U2 with Willie Nelson
I'll stick them in the Gmail account as well.
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From:canadanne
Date:February 18th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
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I just dug out a bootleg CD of mine and discovered that it includes a live version of this song from the final show of the Lovetown Tour... I didn't realise it dated right back to the 80s!

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