The first single… and probably most debated song on the disc to date, just because it was everyone’s first impression of U2’s new stuff. I’ve heard from people that they love it, that they hate it, and that they’re not sure about it.
Musically, there are a LOT of interesting things happening in this song. The drum fill at the beginning makes it feel manic in a way… something that a high school band would do because it’s awesome to rock. The fuzz guitar isn’t really classic U2, but it doesn’t really surprise me somehow. The verses are very loop driven with some upstrokes on the guitar and the bass rocking all the way through it… with a bit of fuzz. The acoustic guitar that comes in in the chorus (“you don’t know…”) is really interesting. The background vocals done by the Edge give the song a different feel as well… it doesn’t have the huge emotive hook that a lot of U2 songs have. The guitar line after the chorus is one of the things that I don’t reall like about the song – I think I get what they were thinking, but I just think the tone is thin and a bit strange. There’s not a lot about the song that makes me feel good particularly, but it certainly grabs me. The huge loops in the bridge are fun, as is the repedative guitar rif which is really the biggest hook the song has.
Lyrically, Bono’s pretty obviously taking a look at war and how it affects everyone involved – kids, soldiers, leaders. I’m taking the whole ‘sexy boots’ thing as Bono pointing out some of the ways that we’ve tried to sell war and violence and (dare I say it) our right to be right as something glorified and sexy, when it’s really not.
The chorus is cool. I may be putting my own spin on this, but that’s some of the beauty of music… everyone interprets it a bit differently! I think Bono’s reminding everyone, the innocent and the guilty, that they’re worth something. We really don’t know how much we’re worth. The thing I like about it is the twist in the music coupled with the lyrics. They’re not soaring and melodic but they’re also not sombre and contemplative. They’re loud, driving and melodically diverse (with the use of a different mode at the end of the chorus… sounds a bit middle eastern, and unfortunatly my mode theory isn’t coming back to me right now). This song doesn’t condemn as much as it inspires and encourages. That’s pretty cool.
Overall, I like it. It’s not my favorite song on the disc and I can see why some people would be afraid of the rest of the album if they’ve just heard this, but I think it’s a really cool song. My guess is that U2 has planned to realease their big single second or third, but this was definitely a good choice to get people talking!