kat (bonoffee) wrote in u2,


Scroll past if you want (no, there is no cut), but this is one of the most amazing songs...

Can't Help Falling In Love (live versions)

Let's get the preliminaries out of the way by saying I love Elvis, I think he's fantastic and I love his version of this song. Now my conscience is at ease as I go on to say...

This version of Can't Help Falling In Love is a million times better than Elvis'.

I'm not sure I can even say it's a U2 song, because it's not. Can't Help Falling In Love comes at the end of many ZooTV shows when Bono, as Macphisto, has started to break everyone's heart and really finishes the job with this incredible vocal performance. The entire Macphisto section of the show always affects me deeply, and for that reason I don't often watch/listen unless I'm in the right frame of mind to deal with the emotion I feel afterwards. That's because this song is utterly devastating. It's bad enough to have Love Is Blindness, the bleakest, darkest, heaviest, most heartwrenching U2 song sung by Macphisto, in the depths of his lost fame. Add on to the end of that Can't Help Falling In Love, sung in a way that makes you wonder if your heart really is being ripped out, and you have the recipe for something quite wonderful and unique.

The Elvis version is very nice, kind of warm and sweet and the kind of song you might hear at a wedding. The ZooTV version is pain, Bono's amazing falsetto breaking through your mind to add to LIB's sense of desolation as well as make you go 'wow' again at his ability to sing from his soul and make you feel a song in a completely new way.

Bono talks about the song in the Orange Bible, and I like this passage so I'll be indulgent and quote a bit more:

"By the time he performs 'Love Is Blindness' from the lip of the B stage with the white makeup running down his face, the line between Macphisto and Bono has become blurred. He ends by singing 'I Can't Help Falling In Love With You' alone, after the other members of U2 have gone. Then Elvis Presley's original version of that song comes out of the loudspeakers, drowning out the last rock star with the first, and Macphisto walks slowly down the long ramp through the audience, back to the main stage, and disappears.

'From the introduction of Macphisto it's all cabaret,' Bono says. 'Macphisto is the Fly down the line. When he goes into falsetto on 'Can't Help Falling In Love' it's the little boy inside the corrupt man breaking through for a moment. Just like in that awful tape of fat Elvis slurring that song, there's a moment when he sings a bit of it right, and you hear Elvis's spirit coming through. That's what I'm shooting for.'

'It was really a bizarre, kind of chilling feeling seeing him,' Edge says. 'It was everything we discussed. It was very disturbing, very unreasonable, and nothing to do with entertainment. It was something much heavier. I thought the idea of the horns was over the top, I thought it was spelling it all out, but in fact it really works.'"

Edge summed it up better than I did, lol, but it's true. The impact is in the disturbance, the reaction from an audience which has come to expect something else from U2 and Bono. That really adds to the song's effect, and Macphisto is the ultimate tragic character. He is the devil, he's a lost soul, he's everything successful musicians probably dread becoming. To me he is the end of the line, a representation of a kind of mortality and totally believable.

"Take my love, take my whole life too, but I can't help falling in love with you..."

That's the job of a rock star, right there. And Bono's performance makes it seem so terribly, horribly real that all you can do after he's gone is sit, think and maybe cry.

I can't emphasise enough how outstanding this song is. There are many versions from ZooTV, but since I can't rip my Sydney DVD, I'm using this one from Dublin, because the sound is really good and clear. It's not quite as affecting without being able to watch Macphisto as well, but it still hits home pretty strongly. I think anyone who tries to claim Bono isn't the best singer, best out-and-out performer, most fascinating frontman should listen, watch, and change their minds.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you

I'll edit this later with the 2 versions I wanted to share with you as examples, but for now you can find the video of the Sydney version in gmail, thanks to canadanne.

EDIT: Here's the Dublin ZooTV version. The sound is really good and the crowd sings along quite a lot - I'm not sure if that adds to the performance or detracts from it, because it sppils the effect a little, but on the other hand the crowd's participating in the heartbreak...
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