Chass (sapphires13) wrote in u2,
Chass
sapphires13
u2

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Driveby SOTDing! Oh noes!

It's the middle of the week and I can't sleep. So, why not do a SOTD, eh?

"Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Gun Mix)" from the Last Night on Earth single

While I was a U2 fan long before descending into Beatles-fan territority, it wasn't until after becoming a fan of the original Beatles version of this song (it's on the White Album ;P) that I decided to seek out U2's cover.


I didn't know what to expect the first time I listened to this song, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Rather than simply try to recreate the original, U2 took the song into a completely different direction. Besides the lyrics, I think the only thing U2's cover has in common with the original is the use of a fuzzbox and the basic guitar melody. I recall one time a couple of months ago when I couldn't sleep (it happens often, you see) and I was listening to my iPod, when this song came on. My mind was wandering, and I went "Hey, somebody took away Edge's echo unit and gave him a fuzzbox!" and then I went "God, when did I become a big enough music nerd to know the difference?"
So anyhow, if you're already familiar with the original, the first thing you'd notice about U2's cover is that the music is drastically different. It's all heavy and distorted and industrial. I suck at adjectives, but you get the point. The second thing you notice is that the lyrics are shifted around. You get the chorus first (minus the "bang bang, shoot shoot"s so present in the original), the opening lines, then the Mother Superior lines, then more chorus, and then finally, just before the 2 minute mark, the song gets weird.
The guitar basically drops out, and Bono launches in with the rest of the original opening lyrics... but he's reciting them in his weird not-quite-rapping way (a phenomenon I first visited in my Hallelujah SOTD). Now, the thing to keep in mind about these lyrics is that they make absolutely no sense. I remember the first time listening to the original, I kind of went "'A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust' WHAT?!". Wikipedia tells me that this section of lyrics were allegedly inspired by an acid trip John Lennon went on, so I guess they make some kind of bizarre non-sensical sense in that context.
And then after that, the rest of the lines in the song are slightly repetitive, but it works. "Hey I need a fix, 'cause I'm going down". This line itself is the basis for much of the speculation that song is about heroin addiction, and that the "warm gun" in question refers to a syringe.
The rest of the song continues with alternations between the recited chorus, and the sung one, and the pleas for a fix. The sung vocals and the recited ones are often layered atop one another, for a quite pleasing effect. And may I just point out how in love I am with the guitar in this song? I could listen to it all day, maybe. Anyhow, the song ends with the layered chorus being repeated ad infintum, and eventually the song fades out.
Of the original lyrics, the only lines missing from U2's cover are "When I hold you in my arms, and I feel my finger on your trigger, I know nobody can do me no harm, because happiness is a warm gun" and to me, it's no great loss. That part is probably my least favourite part of the original, and I can't really imagine Bono singing (or reciting) those lines.
All in all, I like both the original and U2's cover. They're so different that they can't really be objectively compared. But based simply on sound, I prefer U2's. It's one of those sort of songs (of which, U2 have a handful) that are just so strange, that you can't help but love them.
And before I forget, it's worth noting that both versions of this song that exist are mixes, so there's no "nonmix" around to collect. The other version is The Danny Saber Mix, which I only heard once, and if I recall correctly, I didn't like it much at all. I think this mix is definitely the better of the two.

Lyrics:

Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun

She's not a girl who misses much
Du du du du, oh yeah
She's not a girl who misses much
Du du du du, oh yeah

Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun

Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun

She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane
The man in the crowd
With the multicoloured mirrors on his hobnail boots
Lying with his eyes wide open
And the hands busy working overtime
A soap impression of his wife which he ate
And donated to the National Trust

Hey, I need a fix 'cause I'm going down

Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun


Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun

I need a fix cause I'm going down
I need a fix cause I'm going down
I need a fix cause I'm going down
/ I need a fix cause I'm going down
To the bits that I left uptown
I need a fix cause I'm going down, uptown
/ Down to the bits that I left uptown
Need a fix cause I'm going down, uptown / I need a fix cause I'm going down

Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a, a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun

Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun
/ Warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun / Warm gun
[etc. until end]

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