U2101: Ordinary Love

With the Innocence + Experience tour premiere of “Ordinary Love” coming just four nights ago as I write this, I decided to do something a little different for this week’s U2101, and give you all a little peek into my creative process. On October 17th of 2013, “Ordinary Love” was first introduced to the world via the trailer for the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. I had the idea that night to write a diary of sorts recording my reactions to each piece of new U2 that we got in the build-up to the new album that I was sure was coming soon. For various reasons, I ended up abandoning the diary project pretty early on, but not without setting my thoughts on “Ordinary Love” to paper. Presented here, then, for the first time anywhere, is my complete and unedited diary entry for the first time I ever heard “Ordinary Love”.

Last night I received an email from U2.com, promising a surprise of some sort today. The last time I got an email like this from the band’s website, the surprise turned out to be an enjoyable, but somewhat anticlimactic, remix of the classic Pride (In the Name of Love). Needless to say, my hopes weren’t high for today’s “revelation”. All the same, I dutifully logged on to the site at the appointed time this evening to discover something much more exciting. A trailer for a forthcoming Nelson Mandela biopic, featuring the first wholly new, original music from U2 since 2010. Giddy cannot describe my state of mind at this current moment. Still, I feel I ought to try for posterity. The trailer itself is what one would expect for the film it’s advertising. Full of drama and ominous dialogue, the trailer promises a serious but life-affirming testament to the struggle for freedom by one man and the downtrodden masses he represented. I’m sure the movie will do very well and probably earn lots of acclaim, as these kinds of films are wont to do. At another moment, when I’m in a little better control of myself, I’m sure I’ll be able to better appreciate the genuine importance of what this film is about. It is important, and a story that deserves, needs to be told. We all need to remember that as bad is it is now, the fight to get here was damn hard. BUT OMG NEW U2 I CANT BELIEVE IT ITS BEEN SO LONG AND ITS AWESOME!!!! The song itself, or rather the snippet contained in this trailer, is titled Ordinary Love, and is a minute and a quarter long fulfillment of the promises made by the band for almost 5 years now, almost since the day the last album came out. In short, it’s very exciting. The long form is that it really does live up to some seemingly contradictory hyperbole supplied by various band members in recent months. Just about a week ago, bassist Adam Clayton was quoted thusly, when speaking about the as-yet untitled new record on Ireland’s 98FM “I think it’s a bit of a return to U2 of old, but with the maturity, if you like, of the U2 of the last 10 years. It’s a combination of those two things and it’s a really interesting hybrid.”, while the next day, guitarist The Edge said the following “Fans can expect something completely different.” My first reaction was to dismiss those two statements as the standard rubbish that people always spew when asked about some piece of art that they have due. Upon hearing the clip today, I am pleased to verify that this one song, at least, does seem to live up to the hype! The first 30 seconds or so of the clip feature U2 serving up what we’ve come to expect from them since 2000’s award winning All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Bono emoting earnestly over a sparse electronic piano. At about this point, though, the Titanic begins to turn. In what I believe will be the song’s bridge, when we get to hear it in full, the keys get a little more energetic…dare I say, funky? Then in a rush of momentum, Larry’s familiar building drums kick in, right along with Adam’s driving bass, but there’s something else, too…something different. It almost feels like…disco (?!?) and we’re dropped into a rousing mass chorus of U2 doing what they do best but yet sounding entirely unlike anything we’ve heard from them before. It’s gorgeous, moving, and best of all, fun. I love it. I’m sure that it’s no accident that the big moment, that rousing flood of sound that occurs when the whole band begins playing and the song goes 0-90 in 0.0 seconds, comes just as a piece of dialogue from the film states “This is how it begins”. A whole new era for one of the last truly great rock band starts NOW. What an exciting moment. Once again, I feel like I’m part of history in the making, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

So there you have it. I suppose that it’s a little wordy and rambling for this space, but then again, I’ve never been known for my concision. I hope that you enjoyed reading it, and I invite you to leave your comments below.

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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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