Dirty Day

Fading in incredibly slowly, a combination of steady drumbeat, nimble yet ominous bass, and hovering keyboard starts Zooropa‘s penultimate song. Effectively, “Dirty Day” is lyrically a flashback to Bono’s life in the 1970s and early 80s, the tense relationship with his father (From father to son) and the crisis of the October days (You can hold on to something so tight/You’ve already lost it).

And so the song shuffles along, in a manner not too dissimilar to early 90s American alternative rock, actually – only the dynamic being more calm/chaos than quiet/loud; the guitar squalls, running through wah, distortion and possibly phase, and the drumming picks up energy. Eventually the whole song boils over in the coda, leaving the uninformed listener with what is actually quite a bizarre if appropriately nihilistic phrase (those days, days, days, run away, like horses over the hills) taken from Charles Bukowksi‘s multi-novel protagonist, Henry Chinaski, or “Hank”. Hank, it seems, “is a consummate anti-hero: a misanthropic alcoholic who drifts from job to job and woman to woman.” Zooropa has been described by Bono as an album about dealing with uncertainty – and thus “Dirty Day” appears to be the final storm before the epiphany of “The Wanderer”. It’s certainly a key link in the Zooropa chain, and not a bad one either.

The song also highlights an issue that (thus far) I haven’t addressed about 90s U2 in particular – remixes. “Dirty Day” happens to have just two – the most prominent being the Junk Day Mix (most easily found on the limited edition Best Of 1990-2000), and the somewhat lesser-found Bitter Kiss Mix (only on “Please” CD 1 EP). The clanging Junk Day version might be even better than the studio version, possibly – with more thump and menace, the differing vocal by Bono is, at least, definitely better for being more forceful (telling you to WAKE UUUUUP!, for example). The Bitter Kiss version, however, seems to be like some weird synthesis between Junk Day and the studio version, in a compromise that I’m not sure works too well.

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~ by 4trak on April 21, 2008.

One Response to “Dirty Day”

  1. I love this live on the Zoo TV Live In Sydney DVD.
    Amazing bass by Adam

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