Why U2 #33 – What Comes After Familiarity?

whyu2 (3)I noticed something in “So Cruel” tonight that I’d never noticed before – a kind of sliding click right before the main drum track kicks in. It sounds like drum sticks, but I’m not sure exactly what’s being done with them, The exact sound isn’t really the point anyway. The point is that it’s amazing that I could still, 23 years after the song’s initial release, hear something new in a song that I’ve heard at least 500 times. A lot of U2’s music is like that though.

There’s a point at which memorization occurs, sure, but there’s a state that exists beyond that at which you know the song so well that it’s like you feel it even deeper than you know it, if that makes sense. A point where every cymbal tap and every guitar strum, where every throb of bass and each intake of breath imparts a visceral understanding that goes far beyond the simple sound being made and carries with it the emotional weight of the performer’s feelings at the time of the performance. It’s the same way that a song can be performed at each gig of a 100-show world tour and still sound unique and different at every single one of those shows. I love those intimate moments that come long after simple familiarity has been established, and the coolest thing is that now we’ve got 11 new songs to get to know on that same level, not to mention the bonus disc that comes out this week. I’m at a point of familiarity now with Songs of Innocence, but it’s that further height of connectedness that I’m really looking forward to. Just one more thing to love about U2.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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