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June 28th, 2006

On the life and death of U2 songs... @ 12:41 am

I'm currently feelin: pensive pensive
I'm currently hearin: With Or Without You (Bootleg Remix)

This started as a personal LJ post. But I'm changing it. It's going to be a U2-comm post, or a cross-post anyway. (But you've already figured that out, eh?) It can sorta be like my Song of the Day, or yesterday, and multiple songs actually. It's deeply personal, and involves treatments of both "With Or Without You" and "One". So maybe you'll skip them, 'cause they are over-done. But maybe you'll read, to see an entirely personal spin on a song that means something else to you.

Y'know... I have 15 versions of With Or Without You in my music library. FIFTEEN! That includes one video, and 2 "tribute" WOWYs (a blugrass, and a strings). Some songs stay with me forever, and some songs I could leave entirely. Others, come and go, like this one. I prefer it live.

The Rattle & Hum version is by far, the best. It includes the soaring Edge guitar solo, which is the antithesis of the WOWY guitar part. The infinite sustaining guitar was a new item around 1986. It kinda just stays there, holding on to note after note, and there is no "pluck" or "thump" of a pick or finger hitting the string, which you can usually discern in any other song. It almost sounds like something played with a bow. The rest of the song is just kinda strumming in a few chords, and it goes nowhere. But it goes nowhere... nicely. In this version, played in Tempe, Arizona, in 1989... there's a beautiful solo in the last minute or so, after Bono's "Hhhhhoooooooo-ooo-o-oooooo"s. Then comes the infamous third verse... which is really like... four lines
Yeah, we'll shine like stars in the summer night
We'll shine like stars in the winter light
One heart, one hope, one love.

Okay... three. But it really depends on how you break your lines. Like most fans of bootlegs, to me, WOWY is incomplete without this verse.
The other version I really love, is from the Elevation: Boston DVD. It's a much more relaxed version, and Bono doesn't try to climb with his vocals so much. That is entirely due to the fact that he is LAYING DOWN. He picked some lucky-ass girl out of the crowd, and cuddles with her on the heart-shaped catwalk. Yes, I love me some Edge, but I'd cuddle with Bono, too! I like this version because it feels real, sub-Bono, like its sung by any other human being. The climax of the song is a wailing cry, not a beautiful falsetto coo, but a hunkering, guttural "Waaaaaaaahhhh!" If you've seen the video, Bono has his arm wrapped around Lucky Fan Of The Night, is so full of passion, his legs curl up during the note, as if to relieve pressure in his abdomen. Or maybe I just think about Bono's muscular implications too much. We're missing our third verse, and are left with "oooooh"s. But I'm forgiving. *pats Bono on the head*
Lately I've taken on a platonic meaning for this song, though it is entirely about non-platonic love. I just feel hopeless in a relationship, but that I cannot live without this person.

"One" is a song that stays with me forever. If you know anything about me, you know it's my favorite. I mentioned Notes From Underground last week, as an example of a book I've grown with. "One" is definitely a song I've grown with. I remember exactly how I discovered it. I was stood up. Yep. I actually had a date. It was not meant to be, and I don't even believe in fate. But at some point later in that day, or within the next few days, the line "You gave me nothing, and now it's all I've got," caught me. It was really like an epiphany. Through the years I've directed it at different people, my best friend, someone else who promised to be my friend but really wasn't, my parents, my entire family, everyone and no one at all. My latest twist is inward. I know, the lyrics are in the second person, so you must be thinking "Whoa psycho multiple personality girl... dedicates songs to herself." Or maybe you're not, maybe I'm just that self-deprecating for the time being. But eh, it's really come to be a song for everyone, to me. We are so hurtful. Why? If we didn't hurt each other, they wouldn't hurt us, and we wouldn't have to hurt others to feel better about ourselves. So everyone just stop, mk?

X-posted (excerpted really) from my journal
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Date:June 28th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
It's interesting you mention those two versions, because they're far from my favourite renditions of WOWY.

It seems like I'm one of the few U2 fans who really doesn't like the Rattle and Hum performances of many of the band's songs. I think Bono's voice may have been at its strongest, but he is very mechanical with the way he sings and his phrasing. It's like he's a machine almost, always singing with the beat.

I find the Popmart performances, especially the earlier ones with the quiet synth dance drum beat, really enchanting. Bono starts out the song hushed and barely competing with the bass, and ends up wailing by the end; for better or for worse.

It's a nice balance between the older versions of the song, and the WOWY of the last 2 tours, which I like to call the "my voice is shot and we're just going through the motions" rendition.
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Date:June 28th, 2006 07:20 am (UTC)
*sucks in breath*

YES. WOWY Boston Elevation. It's what made me fall in love with them in the first place. You're right about the wailing cry</i. - almost agony.
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Date:June 28th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
having never seen the boston dvd, or heard a bootleg i cant comment on that version... but i too think that WOWy is not complete without the third verse.

as for One, it started out being a song about a breakup at a time that i was enduring a bad relationship... i too focused on the bits like the lyric you mentioned,... but lately its turned for me, and the lyrics that stand out are: we get to carry each other / sisters, brothers. i sometimes have a hard time remembering that its a 'bitter song' as bono says.
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Date:June 29th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC)
My absolute favorite WOWY is the Rock's Hottest Ticket bootleg from Chicago. Why? It doesn't just have the shine like stars coda, but it also includes him singing Love Will Tear Us Apart after that. Now that is haunting. Any version with that is tops in my book.

I think each of the different live treatments resonate, there have been a few. I like the Live in Sydney version because even though its probably the farthest away from the album version, Bono sounds great singing it. His voice is still pretty good, but its also so passionate.

I actually never thought much of the PopMart rendition.

What I like about the Boston DVD version is the outro. Edge is back to the simple chord progression, but he builds it in such a way that it sweeps you up just as intensely as the solo. The intensity peaks when Bono throws the mic to the crowd for the last "oohhh ohhh oh oh" bit. But the thing I disliked about every live version since R&H was that the guitar was so muted. When Edge goes into that signature picking pattern at the bridge, its supposed to be sharp and bold, but in those performances, it was never much stronger than the opening echoes, which loses some of the songs impact for me.

With Vertigo, the song has been restored basically to its JT/R&H treatment (with the exception of the outro solo), including Larry hitting the snare, which is another piece that got dropped for so long. Now the song once again does what it's always done best...build to a crescendo.

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