Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Favourite U2 tracks

I'm far too keen on U2. I have just started using in an attempt to broaden my interests in music. For anybody who is as interested in U2's music as I am, here's a list of my favourite moments from their discography.

10. Acrobat (Achtung Baby)
And I'd join the movement
if there was one I could believe in.
Yeah, I'd break bread and wine
if there was a church I could receive in.

Disturbing first choice from a Christian band, I know - but this song is moving because of its incredible anguish. Achtung Baby dated, I think, from the time when Edge was going through a painful divorce, and many of the lyrics on the album have pain and betrayal as a side-tone.

9. 40 (Under a Blood Red Sky)
This is a staple of U2's live performances, and I suspect this song has had more influence on modern Christian music than almost anything else. Well, maybe not. But it's a bit more interesting than "this is one of the all-time best Christian rock songs."

8. Walk On (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
You're packing a suitcase for a place
None of us has been
Somewhere that has to be believed in
To be seen

Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, but the first of many in this list that is more broadly full of eschatological longing.

7. Kite (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
In addition to the impact of breaking relationships, U2 have explored the loss of parents (Kite, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Mofo), the permanence of relationships (A Man and a Woman), the growing-up of children (The Original of the Species). Somewhat more interesting than the typical "Boy-being meets girl-being under a moon which then explodes for no adequately explored reason". And also a longer lasting accompaniment to the average person's life.

The first time I heard Kite, I thought to myself: "Strange song. Who is Bono singing about?" It was finding out that kicked off the latest round of obsession with what U2 do.

6. Until the End of the World (Achtung Baby)
Judas Iscariot singing about Jesus, apparently. Another one of the eight or so fantastic and painful tracks on this album.

5. Vertigo (Live/Vertigo 2005)
The single and album versions were pretty good. But something happens when U2 get on stage - they just step up a gear. At least on the DVD's. Or maybe it was the direction. You'd have to ask somebody who was there. But this just rocks....

4. Yahweh (Acoustic live version/Vertigo 2005)
I've blogged about this song elsewhere. Again, the album version is okay - but in this stripped down version with Edge playing an acoustic guitar and a naive keyboard from Larry, this makes an amazing prayer/benediction at the end of the concert.

3. Where the Streets Have No Name (Rattle and Hum)
... where they switch to colour, and then turn on all the lights. This was the song that U2 turned down an offer of millions of pounds for the rights to it - I think from Apple - because it was so special to them and to the fans. I have to say that, whilst the African flags and the introduction to the One campaign in 2005 were good with this song, they weren't the same experience as the gigs where all the lights go on.

2. The Fly (Achtung Baby or Live)
Every artist is a cannibal,
Every poet is a thief,
All kill their inspiration
and sing about their grief.

... as evidenced by the choice of subject matter in the rest of the discography! Fantastic live.

1. Beautiful Day (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
See the bird with the leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out

This is a most sublime moment. I would be hard-pushed to choose between either the 2001 live, the 2005 live, the Charles de Gaulle, or the Dublin Rooftop video for this song. (Yes, I really must be a bit obsessive, I guess)

Just to point out that NOT on this list are Pride (In the Name of Love), One, Sunday Bloody Sunday or I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. All of them worthy, but relatively dull (though I noticed for the first time that "Free at last!" in Pride references MLK directly this week). And definitely not "Mysterious Ways", which is probably one of my least favourite of their songs.