U2101 – Hallelujah, Here She Comes

I often place Rattle and Hum‘s unique B-sides (i.e. new songs, not remixes or live versions) into two categories in my head. There’s one category for covers, which we’ve been visiting these last couple of weeks, and another for wholly original creations. U2 doesn’t do a whole lot of covers, so they tend to be something special when the band records someone else’s song. Even so, I think that I still prefer the original songs, like today’s topic, “Hallelujah, Here She Comes.”

“Hallelujah, Here She Comes” is not the greatest thing U2 has ever recorded, by a long shot. Still, it is an enjoyable little ditty with all of the band’s trademarks present. If you are already a fan of the band, it is likely that this song will appeal to you. If you don’t like U2, I wouldn’t peg this as the song to convert you. The lyrics to this song are fairly simple, and deal with the singer’s joy that his lover has shown up. “Joy” might be selling the emotion short a little bit–he is literally praising his God with the utterance “hallelujah.” it’s clear what the singer has in mind for his lover…they’re going to get “high on love.” I have always considered this to be a veiled reference to sex. Perhaps, when he wrote this song, Bono was thinking of the first time he and Ali made love…he saw her coming, dressed to the nines, and knew ahead of time that he was in for something special.

What makes this song interesting, what sets it apart from standard radio fare is the gospel flavor that permeates throughout. From the titular call of “hallelujah” to the repeated cry of “gonna get high on, high on love, ” this song turns love into a religious experience, complete with salvation (the title phrase) and damnation (“I see you’re dressed in black, I guess I’m not coming back”). “Hallelujah, Here She Comes” is pure Americana, which should come as no surprise considering the era that it came from. There is no experimental pushing of boundaries like what the band would produce in just a couple short years, but there is a devotion to old time rock’n’ roll and old fashioned love songs. In fact, I would go so far to call “Hallelujah, Here She Comes” a throwback to the early days of rock.

“Hallelujah, Here She Comes” has never been performed live, like most B-sides, but it was snippeted once. During a performance of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” back in June of 1987, Bono made a reference to the title of this song. This is noteworthy because the single for “Desire,” which contained “Hallelujah, Here She Comes,” wouldn’t be released for over a year from that date. This makes me wonder whether the song was actually an outtake from The Joshua Tree, or if the title was just floating around in Bono’s head in 1987. We’ll probably never know the answer to that question, but it’s still fun to speculate.

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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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