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October 6th, 2006

Song of the Day @ 01:32 pm

I'm currently hearin: Beautiful Ghost - U2

Today's song is...

"Beautiful Ghost" from the Joshua Tree sessions
More likely to be found in your unreleased/rare compilation.

Why this song? Because it's October, duh.
Not really, the track has nothing to do with Halloween, or ghosts. At least, not the white-sheet kind. Actually, the title is completely lost on me.

Despite the lack of literal ghosts, there is a very ethereal feel. When I learned this track was from 1987, it surprised me. It would be right at home on Passengers. It's experimental, as well as instrumental. But the instrument is synthetic, and sounds singular. Notes strung out, with no sense or reason. Then comes Bono.

He travels the fence between singing and speaking. He raises his pitch toward the end, but through the rest his voice barely varies over a few notes. He starts low and guttural, and eventually becomes, well, I'm gonna say exalted, with the last few lines. It certainly isn't the exaltation of belting out "Streets" in a stadium or arena, but compared to where he started, it's definitely raised to another level.

Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient tree;

Calling the lapsed soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

"O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day."

I left out the fact that Bono refrains the last line 3 more times. Because these words are not Bono's, they are William Blake's. This is the Introduction to Songs from Experience. At the end of the French Revolution, Blake was distressed with the state of the world. He wrote two volumes, Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience. Innocence and Experience obviously being two opposing states of being. Blake published Innocence on his own, but posthumoulsy, the two volumes are always published together.

And that, my pals, is your history and literature lesson for the day.

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Date:October 6th, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
That was dreamy, wasn't it? I'd not heard that before, so thankyou! I thought I could hear a little of the intro to WTSHNN, in there too - that long, high-pitched note.
Date:October 7th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
You're quite welcome. Most of the U2 canon has been covered, already. Anything I choose these days tends to be a rarity. I have another Bono piece comin' at you tomorrow, or in a few days. ;-) Stay tuned.
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Date:October 7th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)

Don't even think about doing the one I've nearly finished writing for this Sunday! :p
Date:October 7th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
Heh. Alright. I'll wait you out.
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Date:October 6th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
Haha, it occurred to me just yesterday that nobody had covered this track yet (I think it's the only one from the iTunes package that hadn't been done)!

I have only listened to this a couple of times before, and not recently. I can see why, as it's really more of an atmospheric poetry recital than a "song" as such. (Thanks for the William Blake info - I hadn't gotten round to researching what it was all about!)

I love the title of the track, and it does have a rather spooky/poignant feel - you're absolutely right about it sounding like something from Passengers. It also reminds me of One Step Closer, and I think there's an instrumental on the City Of Angels soundtrack that bears some resemblance to it (which leads me to thoughts of Wim Wenders films!).

To be honest though, I think this one goes over my head a bit. I'm not especially skilled at making sense of poetry like this, with its archaic language, so I can't get as much out of it as I'd like to (it's probably more up bonoffee's street!). And although it's a nice idea for a track, I'm not sure it quite meshes in reality - the instrumental seems disconnected from Bono's speech rather than enhancing it, mostly due to his somewhat clumsy timing. I do really like the bit where he starts to sing "Till the break of daaayy-yyy" in a higher octave, though.

In other observations: (1) It sounds so much like he says "chewy grass" instead of "dewy"; (2) His pronunciation of "watery" is really odd; and (3) It's hard to believe this is Joshua Tree era, he sounds so much like modern day Bono with his hushed and husky tones!
Date:October 7th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
You're pretty much right about it being the last from the Unreleased/Rare collection. But, while I'm sure there have been entire posts devoted to it, no one's done "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home" as an SoTD. I think we'll wait a month or two on that, eh?

Nerd that I am, I went out today and purchased Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Like yourself, I'm not well-versed (pun intended) in deciphering or analyzing poetry.
There seem to be correlating poems between Innocence and Experience, so I went to the intro of Innocence first.

Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child.
And he laughing said to me,

Pipe a song about a Lamb:
So I piped with merry chear,
Piper pipe that song again--
So I piped, he wept to hear.

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe
Sing thy songs of happy chear,
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear.

Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read--
So he vanish'd from my sight,
And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs,
Every child may joy to hear.

And while that's a very good intro for what Blake set out to do, I can't draw any correlations between the two introductions. It's just like Bono to chose the dark one though, eh?
All I know, from Wiki, is that Blake felt children were being led too quickly into "experience," which pretty much means sin. So, aside from the second, third, and fourth lines being parentheticals, the poem basically starts with
"Hear the voice of the Bard... calling the lapsed soul..."
Which makes sense to me, as God (or Shakespeare?? ;) ) calling to all the sinned souls, calling them back from experience.

*waits for bonoffee's input*
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Date:October 7th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
I didn't even know Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was included in Unreleased & Rare... I have it on the charity album A Very Special Christmas. I was thinking more of the "new" tracks that came out in 2004.

It's just like Bono to chose the dark one though, eh?

It's always more fun on the dark side. ;)
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Date:October 7th, 2006 12:28 am (UTC)
Does anyone have the mix of this and Streets I did for the Interference forums like a year ago? It was Beautiful Ghost into Streets and I wish I had kept the file around.

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