Monday, January 9, 2012

Where The Streets Have No Name by U2

As the organ rises like the sun breaking through the darkness of night, the world awakens. In the guitar there is the rivers flowing through the land, birds flying through the sky and people facing the daylight. The guitar grows in energy and as the pulsing bass enters, the heartbeat of our humanity begins and the guitar vigorously throws off our fears and insecurities with a new found energy.

Everything you need to know about U2 can be understood in the first 45 seconds of “Where The Streets Have No Name.” Actually everything you need to know about Rock music can be heard in this introduction. Bono described Rock music as being about one thing: liberation. In this song, U2 encapsulates the desire, the hope and the complexities of what liberation really means.

One thing that many great albums share is incredible opening songs. Springsteen’s Born To Run, opened with the unforgettable piano chords of “Thunder Road,” The Rolling Stone’s Exile On Main Street, exploded with the snarl of Keith Richard’s guitar on “Rocks Off,” and U2's Joshua Tree begins with “Where The Streets Have No Name.”

Bono was inspired when he heard about how in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a person’s religion and income could be determined simply by the street they lived on. Like John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Bono wrote a song to question the assumptions we base our world on and like Lennon, brings these desires to a deeply personal place.

The first verse speaks of desire. There’s the want to “tear down walls,” to liberate, and the desire to feel, “touch the flame.” It continues wanting shelter, “poison rain,” the divisions in our lives to the place where they do not exist. The chorus is a call to stop “burning down love,” to stop tearing down the things that we work so hard to build.  All this desire and passion ends with the thought “I go there with you. It’s all I can do.”

In that one line, Bono foreshadows “With or Without You” later in the album speaking that moving through life with someone else that you love is not a choice. It’s something that we simply have to do. It’s all we can do to be alive, maintain hope and keep moving through the world.

The second verse and chorus speaks of destruction and even though “love turns to rust” and he is “blown by the wind” they got together to the place where we aren’t judged by the world and the labels we put upon each but rather by love.  Yes, love is getting old and rusty, but it perseveres.

Musically we take U2 for granted. Most of us can’t imagine a musical world without Bono’s soaring vocals and Edge’s symphony of sound he creates with his guitar and the simple fact that along with the rest of U2 they are one of the greatest and most original bands ever.

If you try to listen to “Where The Streets Have No Name” with fresh ears you find that everything about this song is astounding. If this song came out today it would blow people’s minds the way it did twenty-five years ago.

Rock 'n' Roll may not be able to save the world but U2 makes you believe it can.  Somewhere in their we find the part of ourselves that believes that through all the darkness we can save the world as long as we have hope in our hearts and loved ones by our sides.

If you still need a little help to understand what I mean check out this trailer and you'll know exactly what this songs really is about.

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