There’s a thin but definite delineation between recordings by U2 and solo work by a member of that band. Some times, that line gets a little blurry, such as with the topic of this week’s article, Bono’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” This song began its journey into U2’s discography when Bono recorded a solo version of the song, just his voice, some drums, and a guitar, backed by some samples of an interview with Elvis Presley. Bono recorded his version in 1992 for the soundtrack of the Nicolas Cage film Honeymoon in Vegas. Not too long after that, some remixes of Bono’s solo effort appeared in remixed form on a couple of U2 releases. One, the “Mystery Train Dub,” showed up as the B-side of the rare promotional single for “Salome (Zooromancer remix).” The second was the “Triple Peaks Remix,” which can be found on one of the singles for “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.” Of these two remixes, I infinitely prefer the “Mystery Train Dub.” It is sexy and a little trippy…fun and just strange enough to capture and hold my attention for the entirety of its eight-and-a-half minute run time.
The song “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was originally recorded in 1961 by American singer Elvis Presley, with a melody based on a popular French love song. Bono has gone on record several times as a fan of Elvis, so it is no surprise that he would choose to cover this, one of the most romantic and U2-ish Presley songs. I say U2-ish because the song deals with the desperation of love, a topic that Bono himself has written quite a bit about. “Can’t Help Falling…” is perhaps a little bit on the simplistic side, but the twist that Bono puts on the song is unique and worthy of notice. U2’s singer has stated in interviews that he was most interested in putting the emphasis on the third verse of the lyric, wherein the character singing the song asks his lover if it would be a sin for them to spend the night together. Obviously, with the religious questions that this raises, this is right up Bono’s alley, and it is no surprise that the song should interest him.
All of the versions that I listed above feature Bono placing an emphasis from the third verse on by delivering these lyrics in his exquisite falsetto, which you might recognize from the ZooTV: Live in Sydney DVD, or if you happened to catch one of the ZooTV shows live where the song was performed. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was covered by U2 at nearly every show from the Outside Broadcast leg, which was the third leg of the ZooTV tour, to the final show in Japan. I am not a big fan of cover songs, preferring instead to hear the band performing something of their own. Their spin on this song, however, was original enough to satisfy this craving of mine, and, frankly, I have found the song to be a highlight of the recordings that I have heard of the shows at which it was performed.