U2101 Like a Song

Even though “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is frequently cited as the first time U2 made a political statement, I have fond feelings for another song – from the same album as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – that I feel could tie with that other more famous piece for that title. I’m talking about “Like a Song”, one of several unheralded songs from War that make that album a classic all the way through, as opposed to simply being a vehicle for U2’s earliest hit singles. “Like a Song” isn’t as raucous as, say, “The Fly”, but it rocks just as hard, thanks especially to Larry’s powerful drumming. Let me put it simply: the drums in this song are amazing. In the early days of U2’s career, Larry’s drums were sometimes allowed to shine in a spotlight usually reserved for guitarists and lead vocalists (“Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” are other examples), and U2’s particular brand of rock music was well served by showcasing the drummer’s big, booming sound.


Ostensibly, the lyrics to “Like a Song” were written as commentary on the punk scene, which I credit (and I think that the band members would agree with me) with inspiring little Bono, Adam, Larry, and Edge to form a band in the first place. I get the feeling that by the time 1983 had rolled around, the four men who make up our favorite band were finding the punk milieu to be entirely too divisive. From this perspective, “Like a Song” functions well as a call for unity among music lovers everywhere, but I believe that there’s also a deeper meaning to the words to this song. Consider war-torn Ireland, where lyricist Bono grew up. His family, along with many, many others, found itself divided among religious lines – Catholic and Protestant. Ireland is also segregated into Northern and Southern portions, with a majority of those in the north preferring (at one time, anyway) the rule of Britain, while those in the south became the Irish Free State in 1922. I believe that, just as much as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was a commentary on violence in their home country, “Like a Song” was an account of the disunity that the members of U2 witnessed all around them in their young lives.


I think that it’s a real shame that “Like a Song” has only ever been performed live once – back in 1983, on the tour in support of the album from which the song came – and I’m hoping that U2 might see fit to remedy that in the coming months. There’s a small part of me that expects the upcoming Joshua Tree 2017 Tour to be a series of politically charged affairs, especially in the United States, which would be an environment that “Like a Song” would fit comfortably in. On the other hand, I also recognize U2’s warranted desire to appeal to the more casual fan as well, which would likely leave “Like a Song” out in the cold once again. I have to admit that I find it unlikely that U2 will resurrect “Like a Song” any time soon, but my idea about the possible political nature of their looming shows gives me just a smidgen of hope. Like I said earlier, “Like a Song” is undervalued, so a rebirth of this intense song live in concert would be much appreciated by this fan.

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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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