I’m often reminded of a bet that Brian Eno supposedly made with Bono – that “Stuck in a Moment” would be the band’s biggest single ever. Even though Brian lost that bet, the song did become an important release from All That You Can’t Leave Behind, peaking at number two in the UK singles chart. As Bono has frequently stated since the song’ release, “Stuck in a Moment” recounts a fictitious argument that Bono wishes he had had with his friend, INXS singer Michael Hutchence, before Hutchence died in 1997, after the release of U2’s previous album, Pop. “Stuck in a Moment” contains lyrics that are meant to be firm yet uplifting, which Bono perhaps feels might have been able to save Michael’s life, had the INXS singer heard them. Hutchence’s life had devolved into the standard rock star cliche of drugs and alcohol and a string of affairs with high profile women, and it’s easy to follow the conversation as it seems to exist in Bono’s imagination. “I am not afraid of anything in this world. There’s nothing you can throw at me that I haven’t already heard.” Bono is telling Hutchence that no matter what Hutchence may have done that he was ashamed of or feeling guilty for, he could talk to Bono about it without fear of being judged in return. Much of the rest of the song seems to focus on trying to get Hutchence to take responsibility for where he was in life and telling him that it wasn’t too late to turn things around. The final stanzas of the song reassure Hutchence that no matter how dark things may seem, the trouble won’t last forever – “it’s just a moment, this time will pass.”
Like its album-mate “Walk On”, “Stuck in a Moment” received two promotional markets, one for the US market and another for the rest of the world. The US video is somewhat humorous and features an American football player who can’t move past an error he made which cost his team the game. The video is full of inside jokes and references to U2’s past work, like the coaches being named Dave Evans (who has made some edgy plays) and Paul McGuinness, and the teams being called The Flys and The Lemons. The international version, on the other hand, is more serious in tone and focuses on the friendship between Bono and his band-mates being the thing that saves the singer.
Since its release in 2000, the song has become something of a fan favorite and has gone through a number of arrangements to be performed at U2’s live shows. On the most recent tour, Bono’s vocals have been simply backed by Edge on piano, with the rhythm section joining in at the start of the second verse. It’s a moving and stirring arrangement of one of U2’s newest classics, and I foresee the song continuing to receive semi-regular performances as the Innocence + Experience tour moves to Europe.
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