Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When Fact Is Fiction and TV A Reality: U2 War

War seemed to be the motif for 1982," adding that "Everywhere you looked, from the Falklands to the Middle East and South Africa, there was war. By calling the album War we're giving people a slap in the face and at the same time getting away from the cosy image a lot of people have of U2. ~Bono (War and Peace NME - 1983)

On this final day of February in 1983, U2 released its third album, War. Boy and October introduced us to the religious youth from Ireland with a few whispers of the political 80's,  War gave us the first hint of the politics that would shape this bands songs and their hearts. 

The Edge honed his signature sound on songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday and Two Hearts Beat as One, not to mention his signature cold notes on the piano. He also had one of very few opportunities to sing co-lead on the Cold War atomic song, Seconds. It was also the advent of the video age and U2 was eager to take part, freezing on horseback for New Years Day, the track first released to the world. It was a heavier sound that most were used to with U2 but it worked well with the politics of the tracks. 

Interestingly enough, the album ends with one of the most iconic U2 songs, 40. Telling us more songs were on their way in only the way expected of U2, through a Psalm.

Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bono's mother was a member of the Church of Ireland and his father was Catholic making him both unable and unwilling to choose a side in the violence. The band tried to stay away from, ironically enough, the politics of Ireland. The song's main anthem is How long must we sing this song? That is the point of the song. One of the most gut wrenching versions of this song was seen on The Rattle and Hum tour. Bono, angered by the events of a bombing in Enniskillen, sang an impassioned version of this song. The version most are familiar with is however, the Red Rocks version.

The Soldiers Girls and the atomic annihilation  inspiration for this song. So many angry comments of the times yet echo so into the future.

New Year's Day
It is NOT, I repeat NOT a song about celebrating the start of the New Year. It is in fact a song about Polish Solidarity, a worker's party that was gaining popular support in the push towards the end of The Cold War. Adam's pulsing bass lines dancing with The Edge's tight piano notes are one of the iconic moments on this album.
Trivia (U2's little known except by fanatics as myself, Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop, was a B-Side to this single. And now you know).

Like a Song...
You think Larry Mullen was on fire for Sunday Bloody Sunday, he's the entire drum line on this song. This is a song about the generation of the 80's that was tired of war and fighting and revolution. In fighting, out fighting ... when does it stop?
But I won't let others live in hell
As we divide against each other
And we fight amongst ourselves
Too set in our ways to try to rearrange
Too right to be wrong, in this rebel song

Drowning Man
This song is not political but a cry to help their own bassist who was struggling with his own demons and the least religious in the band. There are so many layers to this song both beautiful and chaotic.

The Refugee
Okay ... a bit of a departure. The refugees are moving to America ... wait a minute. 

Two Hearts Beat As One
Okay, a love song this time. Bono wrote this while on his honeymoon with his wife Alison. 
Just take a moment to appreciate Adam's bass line in this one. 

Red Light
No overt political statements here ... love, red light ... and one of the stand in back up singers stripped to her bra under the red lights of the studio. 

So many way to interpret this song. Drugs, love, god ... 

Only U2 could get away with singing David's 40th Psalm. Here is a clip from Madison Square Garden in 2015. Chills every time.

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