Wednesday, February 04, 2015

"Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"

This is the first of two blogs, that have been percolating in my head for quite a time, that appreciate songs for pretty much diametrically opposite reasons. 

Music engages our heads, our hips and our hearts; often more than one of those receptors at the same time, which is a bonus.

Sometimes, the song provides an aural blanket, a fuzzy sense of warmth that you wrap around yourself for comfort or reassurance. Sometimes it's a call to arms, or a hand that reaches out to let you know you're not alone. And some other times it's a regimental sergeant-major howling at you to get up and dance.

And often the song has a message. Sometimes it's an easy message to understand, and other times it's buried in the chorus, or even in half a line. I've lost count of the times that I've *thought* I understood a song, only to find that I've completely missed the point. It's totally understandable, of course: a songwriter has one thing in his or her head when they're putting pen to paper, and we quite often have another when the finished product is wafting into our ears. 

I *think* this song is a case in point. Most people I've spoken to think it's a song about marital abuse, and the lines
"You say when he hits you, you don't mind
Because when he hurts you, you feel alive."
are pretty incontrovertible. But to me, that angle sort of starts and stops there.

So what else could it be about? For a start, the song was written for the soundtrack to "Wings of Desire", a Wim Wenders film about an angel who wants to become mortal. And the lyrics make a lot more sense when viewed through *that* prism. The song seems to play up why being human can, on occasion, be even more rewarding than being an angel.

"Red lights, gray morning,
You stumble out of a hole in the ground;
A vampire or a victim;
It depends on who's around"


"With satellite television
You can go anywhere:
Miami, New Orleans
London, Belfast and Berlin"

We humans have choice! We can play different roles as the mood takes us; we're not hemmed in by an unwieldy pair of wings and a job description that means we can only ever be Good. And while we don't have superpowers (or whatever it is angels possess), we can pretty much be omnipresent thanks to technology.

And yes, there are moments when being human isn't pleasant, but I think the word here is "choice".

My ten cents, for what it's worth....

The whole song, the tune, the arrangement, is a revelation. For a start, it's so *intimate*, which is not an adjective I usually connect with U2. It's sensuous, and in fact almost sensual: the repetitive guitar figure coils and rises like smoke, caresses your ears almost playfully. Whereas U2 songs can sometimes be a little didactic, where the sentiment or even the argument is rammed home with zero subtlety, this is hypnotic, and all the more persuasive for it.

Lyrically, there are some utterly beautiful moments; "You can lip-synch to the talk shows" is so satisfying. The chorus is wondrous as well, but I reserve my admiration and amazement for the final, almost throwaway lines that resolve the story:
"Three o'clock in the morning
It's quiet and there's no-one round
Just the bang
And the clatter
As an angel 
Hits the ground"

I don't know why, but the word "clatter" is so..... perfect that I couldn't imagine any other being used to describe the noise an angel might make when it traded in its day job for being mortal.

1 comment:

peggy lopez said...

Бърз кредит оферта.
Имам капитал, който ще се използва по-специално за краткосрочен и дългосрочен план от 2000 евро до 1000000 евро за всеки сериозен човек, които искат този заем заеми. 4 % интерес година според готови сумата, тъй като специфичните не съм нарушава лихварство акт. Можете да изплати Максим от 3 до 25 години в зависимост от размера на готови. Това е за вас да видите за месечните плащания. Аз питам като разпознаване на ръкописни сертифицирано дълг и също някои документи да предостави.