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May 13th, 2007

Song Of The Day @ 12:18 am

canadanne:
When U2 released All I Want Is You with a pair of classic pop covers as B-sides, it was glorious. I don't think it worked quite as well when they tried a similar approach with the Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses single. For once I agree with Niall Stokes when he describes their version of Paint It Black as "unremarkable", and the other track was even less memorable:

Fortunate Son

This song was a 1969 hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival. I don't think I'm familiar with the original (even though it was apparently used in Forrest Gump, which I've seen at least a couple of times)... so I guess I either wasn't a U2 fan last time I saw that film, or I've had so little interest in their cover that I didn't even recognise the song when I heard it. I very rarely play it, and whenever I do, it doesn't seem to hold my attention and I forget it as soon as it's over. But since I'm SOTDing it, I'll have to give it a proper listen now and see if there's anything I've missed!


John Fogerty wrote the song during the Vietnam War, to express his disgust about privileged individuals who didn't have to go and fight like everyone else: "I was twenty-three years old, I think. I was mad at the specter of the ordinary kid who had to serve in an army in a war that he was very much against. Yet the sons of the well-to-do and powerful didn't have to worry about those things." (More about the original here if you're interested.) According to the U2 Encyclopedia, "Some commentators have said that it was supposedly recorded by U2 as a way of informing potential voters in the 1992 Presidential campaign about how vice-president Dan Quayle was one of these 'fortunate sons' in the late sixties who managed to escape the Vietnam War draft." I have no idea where that piece of speculation comes from, or whether there's any truth to it.

The female backing vocals on U2's version are by Maria McKee, best known for the superb power ballad 'Show Me Heaven'. (Her band Lone Justice had supported U2 on both the Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree tours.) With a voice like hers, she seems kind of wasted on this collaboration, as she doesn't particularly stand out here. Not that Bono's vocals are especially striking either... they applied a bit of Achtung Baby-esque distortion to his voice on both of the covers, perhaps in a failed attempt to make them sound more interesting. I just can't help thinking he sounds kind of... bored throughout. For a song that's meant to be full of anger and resentment, it's all a bit monotonous (and we all know Bono can do better than that!). I quite like the way he sings the "more, more, more" bit, but none of it fills me with an urge to sing along, and that's one of the biggest factors in my enjoyment of songs.

I'd love to say the music makes up for it, but... nothing earth-shattering there either, really. Adam's insistent bassline is probably the only thing keeping everyone awake. Edge's guitar bits are decent enough, but nothing to write home about, and (to me at least) it just doesn't sound like a U2 song at all. And I think that pretty much sums up why I tend not to feel like listening to this song... it's not *bad*, I don't find it unpleasant, but it doesn't really showcase any of the band's personal strengths. Of course, feel free to disagree with me - if anyone out there loves it, I'd be interested to hear why!

As for the band's own assessment of it, The Edge simply remarks: "It was a great lyric, that, and a great song. But it was difficult for us. Some styles work and some don't."


LYRICS

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Yeah, the red, white and blue
When the band plays 'Hail To The Chief'
Yeah, they'll point the cannon at you

(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
It ain't me, I'm no millionaire's son
(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I'm no fortunate one

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Well, they help themselves, yeah
When the taxman comes to the door
House looks a like a rummage sale, yeah yeah

(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I'm no millionaire's son
(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I ain't no fortunate one, no

Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
Yeah, when they send you down to war
Well, when you ask them how much you should give
Yeah, it's always "more, more, more"

(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I ain't no senator's son
(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I'm no fortunate one

(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
I ain't no military son
(It ain't me) It ain't me (It ain't me)
Ain't no fortunate son
Take it away...


(I've no idea what Bono says/sings after "Take it away", and neither do any of the lyrics sites I looked at!)
 
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From:sapphires13
Date:May 13th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
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While I'm a big fan of U2's cover of Paint it Black, the first time I heard their Fortunate Son cover, I hated it. I think this may have something to do with me hearing the original a lot growing up, and liking it just the way it was. I have a distinct memory of being about ten or eleven, and getting ready to go into a drugstore with my mother (I think we were picking up some photos we'd had developed), and she told me what Fortunate Son was about (we'd probably just been listening to it in the car).
When I found out that U2 had covered it, I was excited to get my hands on it.... and then I was promptly disappointed. You put it perfectly, Bono does sound extremely bored. It has none of the emotion of the original. I've probably only listened to it a total of four times, and haven't even bothered to put it on my iPod. It just doesn't interest me.

But randomly, I've just discovered that the lyric is "house looks like a rummage sale" basically my whole life I've thought it was "house looks like a roman shade" O_o which never made much sense to me, except that they're kind of crumpled looking. Rummage sale makes WAY more sense.
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From:canadanne
Date:May 13th, 2007 02:35 am (UTC)
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basically my whole life I've thought it was "house looks like a roman shade"

LOL!
I hadn't ever listened to the words until I looked them up for this post. I dunno if I would have heard that correctly, as I don't think the term "rummage sale" is really used over here.
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From:reecord2
Date:May 13th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
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Crazy ol me, I loooove the Paint it Black cover. And risking hearsay, I don't think the original is that great. It's an amazing song, it's the production of the original that just kind of grates on me. I think it's just the production values of the time period, not so much emphasis on the lower frequencies and such.

I do have to say in Fortunate Son's defense that the harmonica solo at the end is pretty wicked.
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From:lydia_petze
Date:May 13th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
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Ditto on the Paint it Black. Love that cover to bits.
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From:lydia_petze
Date:May 13th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
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I'm a Creedence fan, and I love the original, and while I love U2 to hell and gone, this cover does very little for me.
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From:writergeek313
Date:May 13th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I think what made me not like it is the fact that it's a very American song, and, well, U2 isn't American. I do enjoy Paint It Black, though. It's not one of U2's best covers (I'd argue for Dancing Barefoot or Can't Help Falling In Love as their best), but the Stones are hard to cover, and I think that song fits well thematically with Zoo-era U2.
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From:canadanne
Date:May 13th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)

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I think what made me not like it is the fact that it's a very American song, and, well, U2 isn't American.

Yeah, I was thinking that too. Bono is singing about something that isn't really a personal issue to him, and it shows in his voice.
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From:jevoislerouge
Date:May 13th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
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Sorry to say, Bono does no justice to the song whatsoever. John Fogerty is, undisputably, the only man who should be allowed to sing this song. I really don't understand why U2 even chose to cover this one... sorry, boys.

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