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"I always thought passion was like a clenched fist. But when I relaxed, it flowed in a fuller way."

-- Bono

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Column: off the record..., vol. 16-732

@U2, July 17, 2016
By: Ian Ryan


off the record, from @U2

If you hadn't seen it already, U2 tribute band The Joshua Tree and @U2 will be putting on a U2 40th anniversary party in Dublin this September! It's going to be our first European fan party, and the band December will also be participating. Check it out!

There's a creepy little corner of U2's music, more precisely The Edge's music, that really interests me. Every now and then he will guide the creation of a song like "Corpse (These Chains Are Way Too Long)," "Sinistereo," the theme from The Batman, and "Wake Up Dead Man." Serving as contrasts to the living energy that U2 normally produce, I love how dark and sinister and confined these songs sound. "Corpse" conjures up images of closely bound prisoners, either alive or undead, plodding their way through dark, never-ending caves and underground chambers. You can almost smell the sadness, the rot, the lack of hope.

Chains move that thing
Chains we can't see
My chains way too long
And hear my song

"Sinistereo" is, without a doubt, the best song off of the Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark soundtrack. The Edge borrows the first two lines from Edgar Allan Poe's "Spirits Of The Dead," and that sets the tone of the song. The song conjures up images of a burning, self-destructing city, consumed by its own darkness, and secretly feeding some larger, menacing specter behind it all.

Now come thoughts that you shall not banish
Secret fears, visions never to vanish
Crawling shapes now come writhing out
To cast their shadows over this human rout
Breath of our breath with no blood or bone
Never grows weary, never grows old
Mutters and mumbles in infinite ways
Ever the tyrant to the willing slaves
Much of madness and more of sin
No government of this vast, formless thing
You set yourself on fire

The Batman was a fairly mediocre cartoon, especially considering how excellent some Batman cartoons have been. However, the one thing about it that was truly superior was The Edge's opening theme. Mostly an instrumental except for a whispered "The Batman..." at the end, Edge used his guitars to create an image of Gotham as a city of never ending pits and crevasses, darkened streets and alleys. Batman soars above the skyscrapers, looking for criminals to stop and victims to save. Edge reached into the same guitar zones that he used on "Sinistereo" to build an entire crime-ridden gothic city for Batman to protect.

Coming off the vast expanses and glitter bombast of the rest of Pop, "Wake Up Dead Man" feels like it's being sung from a coffin or a crypt. You can feel the cramped corners and the weight pushing down on the song, all that soil getting pushing down, heavier and heavier. You can feel the spiders crawling in the corners, feel the damp and the mold and decay starting to set in. The song is very clearly about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it does not shy away from the feelings of what it must like to be dead, and the inherent fear in the dead coming back to life. The mourning wails of the song "Bezrodna Nevesta" can be heard keening outside the walls of the crypt, heard through the dirt being piled on top of the box. The story of Jesus's rebirth is supposed to be one of hope and renewal, but The Edge chose to focus the lyrics and the music not on the life or the killing, but the actual state of being dead. This song is about a very specific three days.

Jesus, help me
I'm alone in this world
And a f**ked up world it is too
Tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be
Wake up, dead man

Sometimes the band goes in more ethereal directions, such as "Beautiful Ghost," or "Slug" and "A Different Kind Of Blue," but it's not the same. I love how Edge creates creepiness, fear, menace, and despair in these songs. I love how The Edge is the "scientist" of the band and has an ability to create such majestic music with his guitars, and at the same time can imagine these dark, shadowy corners of their catalog.

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

(c) @U2, 2016.

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