This week, we’re talking about one of the most underrated songs in U2’s entire catalog. You know the type that I’m talking about–one of those songs that wasn’t released as a single and never received the attention that it deserves. There have been plenty of songs like that in U2’s career–songs like “Like a Song,” which has only ever been performed live once, or “The Troubles,” which I’ve heard touched many people who don’t identify as U2 fans and who unwittingly found themselves listening to (and enjoying) the song when the band released their album for free through Apple a few years ago. Another song that meets that criteria is today’s topic, “Love Rescue Me.”
The liner notes claim that Bob Dylan helped pen “Love Rescue Me,” but as far as I’m concerned, it’s pure Bono. The song is full of Biblical references, self-doubt, and romantic longing–all of which are right in Bono’s wheelhouse. If I were the type to glorify the past, I would say that these topics are a little old-fashioned, and that that’s one difference between the “good ol’ days” and the stuff that the kids are listening to in 2018, but the truth is I don’t think that such deep ideas were ever en vogue in pop music. Nevertheless, the song makes the listener reminisce about earlier days of rock and roll, with a bluesy sound that reminds me of something from the 1950’s. Of course, Adam’s steady, melodic bass-line is the backbone of the song, but Larry shines, too, especially in the song’s powerful climax. Edge’s chiming guitar takes a backseat here, playing mostly a rhythmic role, but also adding a feeling of pathos to the whole affair. The real star of the song, as far as I’m concerned, is Bono, as he croons, wails, and shouts his way to a peak that is one of the strongest in the band’s nearly four-decades-long archive of music…and we’re talking about a band that made a career out of building to emotion-packed pinnacles.
Despite its status as a “forgotten gem,” “Love Rescue Me” has actually accumulated a fair amount of live performances, due mostly to its inclusion in the setlist at every LoveTown show but one. Since then, the song has only been performed twice. Those few performances all came on the 360 Tour. The argument could be made that two other performances of the song should be counted, but those airing of the song consisted of little more than glorified snippets at the end of a “All I Want is You,” so I don’t count them as full-fledged performances. I would really enjoy a return to the arrangement that U2 employed on the LoveTown tour, with the horns, piano, etc, but I realize that that is unlikely in the extreme. Maybe The Roots can join the band at the Madison Square Garden shows this coming June and they can really air this song out, like they did for “Angel of Harlem” on the Innocence + Experience Tour. I would be perfectly happy if “Love Rescue Me” made a return to the setlists this tour–after all, Rolling Stone magazine says that U2 intends to play longer concerts, and they have to fill up that extra time with something. Why not this extraordinary, overlooked cut from an extraordinary, overlooked album?