As I sit down at my computer desk to write this article, it has been 2018 on the east coast, where I live, for less than fifteen minutes. Of course, new beginnings are on my mind, so I thought it would be appropriate to write about the latest new beginning in U2’s world, the opening track of Songs of Experience, “Love is All We Have Left.”
I’m especially thinking right now about the optimism in “Love is All We Have Left,” and how it relates to the start of a new year. 2017 was rough, with those in power seemingly constantly up to no good, the deaths of several great entertainers, and, at times, World War III feeling like it was just around the corner. Today, though, I’m thinking about all the promise that 2018 offers. To coin a phrase, “Nothing to stop this from being the best day [or year] ever.” That phrase is pretty self explanatory, but what about the next line of the song? “Nothing to keep us from where we should be” is a little more difficult. Taking that phrase to heart means that we have to ask ourselves exactly where that place that we should be is. I personally feel like I am exactly where I should be — I have a loving, truthful and fulfilling relationship with a wonderful woman who I am proud to call my wife. I am studying my way toward a degree that will help me to support my family in the coming years, and I am generally in a good place. However, I recognize that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Maybe you’re stuck in a bad relationship. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you just feel unfulfilled in your life. Well, there’s no time like the present to change it. Whatever “it” is that is dragging you down, or holding you back, or keeping you from realizing your potential, I hope that you will take the opportunity of a new year to make the changes in your life that will get you closer to your best destiny.
The music to “Love is All We Have Left” is pretty simple. As I stated in an article a few weeks ago, the song feels like an introduction, as opposed to a fully fleshed out song on its own. The instrumentation is very simple, with keys and some bass guitar. Bono croons like only he can, and that’s about it. The final ingredient, the one thing that we haven’t discussed, is that crazy vocal treatment that the vocals get in the last verse. Bono doesn’t use a lot of electronic adornment on his voice, normally, but in such a simple song as “Love is All We Have Left” the small touch of altering Bono’s voice just that little bit really adds an interesting flavor to what might otherwise be uninteresting and boring. It’s just enough to keep my attention through the final ideas presented in the song.
I don’t know whether “Love is All We Have Left” figures to be a big part of the upcoming tour or not. I can easily imagine the show starting out with Bono standing alone on one end of the stage, singing the song out of the darkness while the others take their positions. That’s just one idea, and the boys in U2 have much better imaginations than I do for putting on huge, immensely satisfying concerts. One thing’s for sure, though — whatever the Experience + Innocence Tour turns out to be like, whatever songs they play, in whatever order, the fact that we just got a new U2 album and there’s a new tour on the horizon guarantees that “this is no time not to be alive.”