This is another one of those daunting prompts from Dave, like the one asking us to choose a favorite year in music. Lyrics are probably what leaves the lasting impression in music for me, with many exceptions. Also like other prompts Dave has given us, the song I wanted to use came to me immediately, “One” from U2’s Achtung Baby. Yet dissonance percolated for me, as the album is permeated with the “it’s complicated” poetry of love. Yes, I could have gone for the low-hanging fruit of the plea for world peace in “One” and called it good; but I was in the mood for a fermented cornucopia to sip and pass the bottle.
When Dave gave me the OK to use a whole album of lyrics instead of just one song, I had a very specific purpose in mind. Since we are supposed to be looking for poetic lyrics, I decided to choose favorite poetic lines from each song on it and compose a found poem from them. It took some time to listen to them while reading the lyric list found on the internet (the included ones I have from the CD are too small for these eyes to read anymore) to make sure they were accurate (some tweaks were needed.) Then I spent some time choosing my favorites. It didn’t take me long to see that many of them are presented in couplets. I also noted that about a third were proclaiming the most positive aspects of feeling in love, including excitement, anticipation, freedom, ecstasy, adoration, and timelessness. The other two thirds express varied emotions evoked from it, including anguish, embarrassment, resentment, discouragement, confusion, wistfulness, blame, and existentialism.
I’ve broken up the couplets in some cases and arranged the lines with positive aspects first, then the more complicated aspects. At the end, I kept the section from, “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” intact as I didn’t have the heart to break it up.
Her skin is pale like God’s only dove
Screams like an angel for your love
I’m ready for the shuffle – ready for the deal
I’m ready to let go of the steering wheel
We’re free to fly the crimson sky
The sun won’t melt our wings tonight
Time is a train – makes the future the past
Well, my heart is where it’s always been
My head is somewhere in between
The night is bleeding like a cut
Standing in the station
My face pressed up against the glass
Well, you left my heart empty as a vacant lot
For any spirit to haunt
Love is clockworks and cold steel
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
You gave me nothing – now it’s all I got
In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Sunrise like a nosebleed
Love is a temple – love the higher law
If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel
On your knees, boy!
You ask me to enter – then you make me crawl
Have you come here to play Jesus?
To the lepers in your head
To touch is to heal – to hurt is to steal
In dreams begin responsibilities
I disappeared in you – you disappeared from me
She wears my love like a see-through dress
I gave you everything you ever wanted
Between the horses of love and lust
It wasn’t what you wanted
And a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
You bury your treasure where it can’t be found
But your love is like a secret that’s been passed around
your face of melting snow
Ah, the deeper I spin
Ah, the hunter will sin for your ivory skin
Took a drive in the dirty rain
To a place where the wind calls your name
Under the trees, the river laughing at you and me
Hallelujah, heaven’s white rose
The doors you open I just can’t close
When I look at the above nuances of the greatest force in existence and remind myself that Bono and The Boys have spoken to each one, through the lyrics and the word made manifest in the music, I have take a moment to give a prayerful thanks to each one of them.
Thanks again, Dave, for inviting me to write to the prompt and for giving me some leeway in the parameters.
Song and Source information:
Writer: HEWSON, EVANS, CLAYTON, MULLEN
Copyright: Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics were found here.
If you want to read more about this iconic album, here are three first class reviews:
Achtung Baby Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Revisit: U2: Achtung Baby
This post first appeared on Dave’s blog.