U2101 – I’m Not Your Baby

Over the years, U2 have recorded several songs for Wim Wenders films. From “Until the End of the World” and “Stay (Faraway So Close) in the early 1990’s, through “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” and “Stateless” (not to mention the assorted other songs that various members of the band contributed to) for the Million Dollar Hotel, which was co-written by Bono, the band have enjoyed a long and fruitful series of collaborations with the German film-maker. One other song to add to the above list, from Wenders’ film The End of Violence, is “I’m Not Your Baby”, a duet with Irish singer Sinead O’Connor that was originally recorded during the Pop sessions.

 

“I’m Not Your Baby” starts out with some samples and a laid-back keyboard part. Shortly, the drums kick in followed by a low-key vocal from Bono. The first little bit of the song sounds like British trip hop, with a nice, easy-going vibe to it. When Edge’s processed guitar enters the mix it further enhances the upbeat, poppy, European sound that the band achieve with the early part of this song. A few small dabs of piano during a short instrumental intermission only advance the smooth and relaxed tone. At about 1:53, though, song begins to take on a slightly different mood, as the drums become a little heavier and a rough and raw bass part steers the song into new territory. Sinead’s strident vocals in this portion of the song really add to its power and forcefulness, but before long we’re back to the loops, keyboards and piano motif. Listeners take a deep breath as they come down from the muscular flexing of the previous moments. The song continues this ebb and flow for the remainder of its length, trading back and forth between sublime, peaceful lulls and harsh, dynamic and vigorous assaults. All in all it’s an effective, attention-grabbing package.

 

One thing that I find curious about “I’m Not Your Baby” is the way that Bono’s vocals are so quiet throughout the song. I’m not sure whether they actually mixed the singer’s voice to be quieter than the rest of the song of if Bono’s is just singing especially quietly, playing off of some more commanding vocals from Sinead to create an interesting aural juxtaposition. At times, it seems that I need to turn the volume up just to hear Bono. Regardless of the volume at which they are presented, the lyrics to this song are light but dramatic, and are seemingly about a romantic relationship gone wrong.

 

“I’m Not Your Baby” has never been performed live, but there is an interesting instrumental remix that was included as a B-side on the International version of the single for “Please”. I doubt that the song will ever be performed live, as it would require a female singer to really do the song justice. Normally when there’s a female on stage with U2, they’re performing one of her songs. Still, it would be an interesting experiment to see how an audience would react to the hard-then-soft course that the song follows.

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broadsword

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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