February 10th, 2006



I am very sorry for the lateness of today's SOTD, but I've had such trouble getting onto LJ, it's been awful!

After last night, I think the unofficial SOTD should be SYCMIOYO, because it did so well and is a great reflection on U2's achievements. However, as a proper SOTD it's already been done :p so I give you today's (plus essay), which is...

Slow Dancing from the Stay (Faraway, So Close!) single

This is another song that started life destined for a music legend. Bono had Willie Nelson's voice in mind when he started work on this song, a broken country ballad about the effects of a woman. This then follows on from my last two choices in their themes, but the portrayals are all very different. This one is heartfelt and yes, romantic, but as it's U2's venture into country music, it's not without its bitter undertones. Country music itself is rarely about straightforward love, and neither is U2's music. Combine the two, and what you get is both powerful, beautiful and heartbreakingly wonderful. And this is before you add in Willie Nelson's astounding vocals!

As the story goes, Bono sent the song off to Willie and when he didn't hear back, he assumed Willie wasn't interested, didn't like the song. In fact Bono was convinced he'd blown his chances of that, and I feel I have to quote from the Orange Bible here:

"He [Bono] was so excited about the song that the day after he wrote it he told a TV interviewer that he had just written a song for Willie Nelson. Before he had made any contact with Nelson. MTV picked up the item and broadcast it.

"'Can you imagine?' Bono says. 'Willie Nelson, one of the greatest songwriters alive, hearing me on TV saying I've written a song for him. Without his asking for it! He probably thought, "Well, fuck you."' Bono shudders at the thought."

That wasn't the case at all, but it wasn't until 1997 that the man himself was in Dublin and able to do anything about the song. In the meantime, a U2-only version of the song was put on the B-side to Stay (Faraway, So Close!) which I think contrasts it well with the mood of the A-side.

When I say U2 version, I think I'm stretching a point. It's Bono and Edge and a guitar. Bono's voice is soft but brittle, awe-struck but reverent, familiar but distracted. He's backed, gently, by Edge. It's the typical tale of a man bewitched by his woman, in this case when she takes him "slow dancing". Which I think could mean many things but I find it nice to imagine just that - a couple dancing to slow music, finding each other, getting lost in one another. That comes across in the lyrics, too, which again are brilliant. Of course there is the other side of love, too, the mysterious side which was explored in 'She's A Mystery To Me', especially in my favourite lyrics:

My love is restless as the wind
She moves like a shadow across my skin
She left with my conscience, I don't want it back
It just gets in the way

A man helpless at the actions of a woman he adores, not wishing to think of the consequences of his actions. Which brings to mind another point: is it a song of infidelity? To my mind, very possibly, considering that's a major subject matter of country music and a major subject of Achtung Baby, which preceded it. The kind of thing Willie Nelson would sing perfectly. Which of course he does, on the 'If God Will Send...' single, showing up the sparse music and low-key vocals of the U2-only version. Willie's voice soars and brings to the track world-weary experience and knowledge and when Bono joins in on the chorus, he becomes a backing singer and Willie steals the show.

But of course, that was Bono's intention all along. U2's 'solo' version isn't as good in my opinion, but I love it on its own charming merits. And so should you! ;)

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Due to the above net problems, I haven't managed an upload but I will try my best to do it for you tomorrow. I am truly sorry!

I'd promise to write less next week, but we all know that ain't gonna happen. ;) See you next Thursday!


You know you're a U2 fan when...
(we should make this a regular column)

During the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, Bosnia is introduced, and the commentator talks about the "pock-marked city of Sarajevo". You have to rewind your TiVO, 'cause you swear you heard "PopMart city of Sarajevo."