Chass (sapphires13) wrote in u2,

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I was listening to Zooropa last night and absolutely drooling over it in my LJ, so you'd think I might pick it for SOTD. But nope! My love for that song at the moment is too great to be put into words. Thus, I had to travel down different avenues of thought:

"Exit" from The Joshua Tree

Crank up your volume, folks. I've chosen the quietest song on the album. But don't let that fool you, it's a powerful song... it just didn't get remastered properly.

The first time I ever heard this song, it scared the crap out of me. It was the middle of the night, and I was alone. I had to crank up the volume all of the way just to hear it, but as soon as it was over, I listened to it again, and again. You know, Exit is the reason I hardly ever listen to Mothers of the Disappeared. Because I can never listen to Exit just once, I always end up putting it on repeat, and rarely hear the final track as a result.

The song starts out with crickets. I imagine Brian Eno concocted these crickets in some manner, but they set the mood of the song perfectly. A dark, quiet, lonesome summer night, where your only company are crickets and the wind (and a dog, I suppose). Edge is lurking very quietly in the background with his chiming guitar, Larry is tapping out a simple one-stick rhythm, and Adam is carrying us with a muted beat. The entire composition reminds me of a heartbeat.
And then Bono joins in, quietly. And not just quiet because of the issues with the CD. The song is meant to be quiet. The entire band is holding back, you can feel it. The slow build-up, and final explosion in this song is a wonderful thing. It really pulls you into the song, and pulls at your emotions. Bono is almost whispering, he's singing softly and telling us a story. You can hear sorrow in his voice as he sings.
In the second verse, the build up begins to grow, Edge pushes forward, Bono sings with more emotion, now there's pain in his voice as well as sorrow. In the third verse, Larry begins to push forward as well, and by the fourth verse, the entire song has grown so completely intense, that you know it'll have to explode soon. And it does, with the ending of the very powerful fourth verse.
The song explodes in light and sound before quieting down again for the final vocals. As it does, the music almost sounds odd, as though the band themselves are surprised at themselves for exploding like that (though perhaps at this point, I'm just being weird and crazy). Then the song explodes again, and even more so this time. Larry is really beating the crap out of his cymbals (where as, during the first explosion, he was mostly beating the crap out of his snare) and it sounds wonderful. Finally the song quiets down once more, before ending.

A number of things make this song great. Most obviously, the intensity. Not just the intensity of the build up and explosion, but the lyrics themselves. Here we have the story of a man who's strayed away from what he knows is right, and is being led into the consequences of his own emotionally-driven decision.
The question is: Murder or suicide? The story is left unfinished. The protagonist slips his hand into his pocket, and into the cold embrace of a gun. We don't know exactly what happens, but we know that something does.
This song, dark though it may be, is magical. Bono has painted a detailed image with his words, and the music and performance pulls you right into it. The descriptive writing puts you right alongside the doomed man. You can hear the crickets of course, but you can also feel/hear the wind, the dog crying, the thudding heart. You can feel the cold nighttime desert air, see the stars twinkling down ominously from the black sky, and the heavy steel weighing you down. The four time repetition of the words "healing", "beating", and "oh my love" only add to the intensity.

You know he got the cure
You know he went astray
He used to stay awake
To drive the dreams he had away
He wanted to believe
In the hands of love

His head it felt heavy
As he cut across the land
A dog started crying
Like a broken hearted man
At the howling wind
At the howling wind

He went deeper into black
Deeper into white
Could see the stars shining
Like nails in the night
He felt the healing
Healing, healing
Healing hands of love
Like the stars shiny shiny
From above

Hand in the pocket
Finger on the steel
The pistol weighed heavy
And his heart he could feel
Was beating, beating
Beating, beating oh my love
Oh my love, oh my love
Oh my love

My love

So the hands that build
Can also pull down
The hands of love

Favourite lyrics:
Like the stars shiny shiny
From above

The entire song is amazing, but if I had to choose something, it would have to be Bono saying "shiny shiny" =P
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