I really had a hard time deciding what to write about this week. I knew that I wanted to cover a song from U2’s new album Songs of Experience, but there are so many tracks on that album that I genuinely love that I had trouble narrowing it down to just one song to talk about. In the end, I decided to go with the songs that made the biggest impact with me on my first listen to the album — last week, I started talking about the new album with a song that really affected me the first time I heard it, and I thought that it would be best to continue that trend today. So today, our topic is the song “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way.”
On the morning of the album’s official release date, just past midnight, my wife and I sat down to give a listen to U2’s latest offering. I think it’s fair to say that we both enjoyed the album and thought highly of it even then, even though it is virtually impossible to fully absorb and understand any complex work of art after just one consumption, and U2’s albums are always complex, with lots of ins and outs, nuances and subtlety to work through. I think that the song that affected the two of us the most was “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way.” By the end of the song, both of us were in tears, and we had to stop the album to discuss our feelings about the song. 2017 has been such a trying year, with many things that once seemed impossible now occurring on a daily basis. Rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, and general hatred have all become parts of our every-day lives. It is hard to believe that we have fallen to this level so quickly, and it is just as difficult to see a way out, a way that rational thought and kind actions can win the day. This song, though…it came out just when those of us who care about what is going on in the world really needed to hear it. It reminds us that things are not as hopeless as they might seem, and that, just like a semi-truck barrelling down the road smashes through all the obstructions in its way, love is a power that cannot be stopped. Like the song says, “When you think you’re done, you’ve just begun.”
The music to “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” is among the most interesting on the new album, as well. The song has a very unusual main riff, and I think that it is a guitar, but it could be a keyboard or even a human voice that has been run through a processor. Maybe, like the intro to “Until the End of the World,” it is a combination of guitar and voice. Either way, it is absolutely captivating. Adam and Larry also show up on this track, and the drums especially are dynamic as they push the song to a place that it wouldn’t reach otherwise.
I have some doubts about whether or not “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” will get regular stage time on the upcoming tour. It seems to fall into that same category as songs like “The First Time,” “Peace on Earth,” and “One Step Closer.” That is, emotionally powerful songs that appear in the second half of their respective albums and which are built around keyboards or other unorthodox sounds that might be difficult to recreate in a live setting. It is also hard to imagine the song working nearly as well as an acoustic number, so that means of performance is ruled out. I know that the band can always play the song backed by synthesizers, etc. but that doesn’t always resonate with the same power that live music that is being performed right in front of an audience does, so I hope that the band can find some way to bring this song to life on a stage.