I remember reading in BIll Flanagan’s superb book U2 at the End of the World that, when they are in the studio, U2 has a tendency to revisit the moods or feelings of everything they have ever recorded. Sometimes, it is easy to pick out where this has happened, kind of like how “One Step Closer” is sort of in the same mood as “The First Time” if viewed through the lens of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, or “Get on Your Boots” captures a similar feeling as “Vertigo.” Another example, where all the songs came from the same session, is the trio of “In a Little While,” “Wild Honey,” and, excised from the final album’s tracklist, “Flower Child.” It is very clear that the the band members were all in a loose, playful, down to earth mood — maybe even a bit silly. I think that, as much as any other track, these three capture the feeling of the four musicians playing in a room together without the figurative bells or whistles. U2 doesn’t do a lot of acoustic songs unless they are alternate versions of other tracks, so “Flower Child” is a little bit unique. Without all the trappings that sometimes accompany modern pop music, the song really focuses on the strength of the melody and the expressiveness of Bono’s voice. “Flower Child” is definitely what I would classify as an “ear-worm,” with a vocal melody that gets stuck in my head if I even think of the song.
It’s a shame that we tend to think of weeds as things to be eliminated because sometimes, weeds are really beautiful examples of nature growing wild and free, such as some types of daisies. The lyrics to “Flower Child” make me think of someone who, like daisies, might be viewed as unwanted by some people, but who is untainted and strangely, uncommonly wonderful in their own right. I have known a few people in my life who were like this…completely unspoiled by modern civilization. People who went their own way and refused to conform, and were made all the more attractive for that fact.
“Flower Child” has never been performed live at a U2 concert, but I personally think it would be outstanding if the band were to play the song from the B-stage as part of an acoustic set some time. The lived-in quality that Bono’s voice possesses now, which was just starting to develop around the time that this song was recorded, would make this song come alive in a totally new and exciting way that is not captured in the studio recording of this song that the band released. The song might be a little too esoteric for some concert attendees, but I feel like it would be interesting and great fun for U2 to play fewer expected hits and more hidden gems like this song. I know, I know…the subject of U2’s setlists if a hot topic of debate, and I am generally happy with the band no matter what they choose to play, I just think it would be nice if they played more oddities. Throw your two cents into the discussion by making a comment below or on Facebook. I really would love to hear what you think.