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April 27th, 2006

SOTD @ 11:33 pm

bonoffee:
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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Comments

 
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From:hbpen
Date:April 27th, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
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Just your DESCRIPTION made me tear up a little. *sniff*
I've heard it, but never seen it live. So I kinda had no idea what is looked like or what Bono was going for.
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From:lydia_petze
Date:April 27th, 2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
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That was an amazing review. Thank you so much - it's been a very long time since I watched the Sydney Zoo TV concert, but I think I might need to drag it out again.
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From:bonoffee
Date:April 29th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Thank YOU for saying such a nice thing about my review, I appreciate it.
From:tiffiny_
Date:April 27th, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC)
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I just wanted to mention that I really enjoyed all the information you provided for this SOTD.
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From:bonoffee
Date:April 29th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Aww, thank you, I'm glad. :)
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From:music2bio
Date:April 28th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
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Would it be possible to ask for a live version of this song? You make it sound so good and wonderful, that I would love a copy if possible. thanks!
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From:hbpen
Date:April 28th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
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From:music2bio
Date:April 28th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much!
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From:sinedreams
Date:April 28th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
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is it supposed to come down as a text file?
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From:bonoffee
Date:April 28th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I'm planning to upload two other live versions as well - I'm on dial-up so it sometimes takes a while but I'm hoping to get that done later today and I'll post the links here. :)
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From:inklingfair
Date:April 28th, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
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This song is perfect in all its incarnations.
From:sabneraznik
Date:April 28th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
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So much better than Elvis'. Yeah. He could sing that to me all day.
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From:quinoline
Date:April 28th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC)
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Sorry, but how do you download it off gmail?
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From:sapphires13
Date:April 28th, 2006 06:37 am (UTC)
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Log in, find the appropriate email in the inbox, and download the attachment. Be sure to log out when you're done.
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From:sapphires13
Date:April 28th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC)
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And it might help if you know the login information =P

ID: u2usendit
Password: vertigou2
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From:quinoline
Date:April 28th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
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Indeed, it was the login info I needed. :P

Thanks alot!
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From:canadanne
Date:April 29th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC)

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You have a Roger Federer icon. Yee!
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From:sapphires13
Date:April 28th, 2006 06:40 am (UTC)
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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.

You're absolutely right. Love Is Blindness never fails to stir me, and being sung by MacPhisto, even more so. It tears your heart out, and rather than ending it there and leaving you wounded, rather than following it with an uplifting song to try and heal you, you get another song filled with despair. It's heartbreaking and chilling. **love**
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From:anna_banana666
Date:April 28th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
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i've never heard it, but it sounds like it's incredible...
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From:kashmir87
Date:April 28th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC)
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For the first time I've finally listened to this version... and the falsetto bit brought tears to my eyes. I can count the number of songs on my hands, maybe one hand, that have ever done that to me.
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From:canadanne
Date:April 28th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)

Gmail

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The relevant email with the Sydney video clip can be found in the "Starred" folder, if anyone's having trouble finding it. Or just use the search box at the top. (I uploaded it on 18th September so it's buried away on the second page.)
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From:canadanne
Date:April 29th, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)

The Ultimate

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This could actually be a song that is *so* devastatingly beautiful, it leaves me too speechless to say very much about it!  I'm glad you already did such a fantastic job of describing it, because that removes some of the hard work for me. ;)  Especially as you quoted those passages from the Flanagan Bible, which always come to mind when I watch and listen to these performances. All I can do is pretty much ditto everything you wrote, and repeat it for emphasis!

So this is quite clearly the best concert closer that U2 ever came up with (and yet another reason why no tour will ever be able to match the sheer perfection of ZooTV), and it's HANDS DOWN the best vocal performance of Bono's life. I absolutely agree that if anyone is ever stupid enough to question Bono's singing ability, they should listen to this song and immediately eat their words. Everyone knows how much I adore Bono-falsetto, and this is THE supreme example of it.... it's kind of appropriate that he performs the song whilst assuming this supernatural persona, because the way he flawlessly hits those heart-shattering high notes seems almost beyond normal human ability. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to a live version of CHFIL and been convinced he wouldn't manage to reach the top notes, and every time he proves me wrong, it's one of those soul-wrenching moments where I nearly gasp out loud and I feel myself well up in stunned amazement.

"So it goes, some things were meant to be (ee-hee...)
Taaaaaake my ha-a-and
Take my who-o-o-ole life to-oo
'Cos I cannn't help
Fallin' in lo-o-ove wiiiii-i-ith you....
"

*is dead*
I defy anyone to name anything as sublime as that verse.

There's another great quote from Bono, but I can't remember where it's from - one of the books, maybe (could it be somewhere else in that Bible chapter?), or possibly the Elvis Lives documentary where Bono spoke about the Elvis/MacPhisto crossover and they showed footage of the song. This particular quote was about the intentional shift in tone when they performed CHFIL... he was saying how the Elvis version seemed to focus on the romantic element of the lyrics, but Bono was more interested in the "Shall I stay, would it be a sin?" verse. It's not about happily-ever-after devotion, but about temptation, betrayal, the idea of throwing everything away because of this irresistible longing. (Not a million miles away from the lyric "Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me...") Which is another reason why MacPhisto is the perfect character to deliver it. He knows all about temptation and loss and paying the price, you can see it in those sad, weary eyes.... and god, he's every bit as achingly beautiful as the song itself. *heart dissolves*

I used to cry my eyes out to this song every time I watched the Sydney video, partly because the lyrics brought to mind a personal tragedy that a friend of mine went through. I don't always cry over it now, but sometimes the sheer emotional power of the vocals is enough to tip me over the edge. I love the way it gently fades out at the end, with MacPhisto gradually letting the audience take over more and more of the vocals, until at last he turns and disappears into the darkness.... wow. Just wow.

Hmm, what was I saying about being too speechless to comment on this song? Yeah right, like I can ever help it. ;)  It appears I already rambled somewhat when we did the Triple Peaks Remix, as well...

I'm glad they didn't go for some fancy full-band arrangement in the live show, it works so beautifully with just The Voice, and Edge softly strumming his guitar in the night.
What better note to end upon.
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From:canadanne
Date:April 29th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)

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I remembered (well, guessed and was proved correct!) where that Bono quote was - it's on the "Outside Broadcast" bootleg where BP Fallon interviews the band for Zoo Radio. Thus here's the actual transcription:

BP: "What made you decide to record Can't Help Falling In Love?"
Bono: "I've always loved that song. And I wanted to give it a different interpretation to Elvis's which I always felt was down on one knee, like... 'Take my hand, take my whole life too', so... I always felt he was at the altar. Whereas I was interested in the second verse, which was 'Shall I stay, would it be a sin?' - which doesn't sound like somebody who's getting married!  And so I thought, this is interesting, this is-- I'll play the 'Catholic guilt' version. So that was my spin on the song. Erm, though the angels do arrive at the end to, er, rescue the day... I hope."

While I'm at it, I also came across some passages in Beep's book ('U2 Faraway So Close') which struck me as worth quoting here....

[The following refers to the version of the song on the Honeymoon In Vegas soundtrack.]
Bono's on the phone and he's saying "If you're not doing anything, come down to STS tonight, I'm going to be recording 'Can't Help Falling In Love'. The rest of the band are completely fucked so I'm going to do it myself." ...
Bono isn't about to hang about. In the last hours he's already tried various different approaches to the song from the straightforwardedly experimental to one like a crap copy of a busker in Grafton Street. Dreadful. "All you need now" you say, "is the sound of coins landing in a hat." Bono laughs and moves on to the newer track.
Then it's time to try some vocals on the bam bam bam whack drums electric guitar keyboards track. Bono tries this, tries that. You like the first bit where it's almost spoken, as if he's sitting beside someone and he's confiding quietly into their ear, then loping into the melody and you suggest that he just let his voice go, let it just fly like a Phoenix Icarus soaring towards the sun but keeping his wings intact. Something like that. Obvious stuff. ...
Next thing, Bono's singing, bloody hell, and at the end of the song his voice is high and pure and beautiful, resigned sadness floating towards uncertain paradise. Beautiful. Elvis is still in the building.


(I love how even BP Fallon just gushes and repeats himself like I always do when I talk about this song. *g*)

I also liked this passage in reference to the end of the Vegas show:
As you're making to do a runner to leave for the airport to fly to LA, Ellen climbs out of the van. God, it's fucking freezing in the Nevada night air but she insists on standing there, listening to the band. "I just love this part" she says, shivering in the cold as Bono's voice of mercury in the distance sings "... but I can't help, falling in love with you". It's touching to see this seasoned music business woman still moved by the music, still in love with the very reason we're all here. Fair play, Ellen.

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