Monday, November 5, 2007
No. 221: War
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: "War" us U2's first and really only fully political album. The song hits topics unfamiliar to Americans like the Polish Solidarity movement or the IRA bombings that continued for years, but still had the resonance of a classic anti-violence or populist message.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's still U2, so it's still preachy and stupid.
Best song: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day" remain the only two U2 songs I enjoy.
Worst song: "Two Hearts Beat as One" is terrible.
Is it awesome?: It isn't good, but it's not totally terrible.
Hey, everyone, we've finally found a U2 album I don't totally hate. For one, it has the only two songs I enjoy by U2. As well, I like the album's overt political tones, though I don't care for most of the actual songs.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnyyyywwwwwaaaaayyyy, let's talk a little bit about "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The song writes around the Northern Irish violence of the 70s and 80s, not taking a sectarian position.
Moreover, the song reflects the band's ability to weave the traditional Irish Catholic ethic into the lyrics. The song's closing lines, "claim the victory Jesus won…on [a] Sunday bloody Sunday" is the most overt, but to those unfamiliar with scripture, the song references Matthew 10:35 and 1 Corinthians 15:32 in the verses.
Musically, it brings in a military feel that hammers home the song's anti-violent theme. The military drum march, the chant and guitar arpeggio are undercut (wonderfully) by a chaotic violin.
I also enjoy "New Year's Day." In case Bono or The Edge or whatever is reading this, I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of fawning over two U2 songs, so, we'll leave it at that. It's a good song and it's about the Polish Solidarity movement.
There are other reasons to like "War." "Seconds" is an anti-nuclear war song, "The Refugee" is pretty overt and "Red Light" is about prostitution.
So, it's U2's best record, which, to me, is like being the smartest idiot. Still, it's better than anything else they did.