Peace on Earth

Song #8 off ATYCLB that wouldn’t have turned up on the Joshua Tree (as is so often claimed by reviewers) is “Peace on Earth”, a song that nonetheless is of mixed virtues. Almost acting as a kind of development of “Wake Up Dead Man” (indeed, it has a similar, watery and distant kind of backing), it’s a calmer, more considered approach to the same topic. In “Dead Man”, Bono sounds accusatory and angry; here the tone is more mournful and regretful at the doings of others, and willing to suggest that personal actions amongst individuals are also part of the blame, not just God’s apparent passivity. Resources are needlessly wasted for the sake of rivalry – There weren’t many trees/Where there was we’d tear them down/And use them on our enemies. The names of Omagh bombing victims serve as further reminder of how age-old divisions that can’t be cast aside end up costing lives. There’s also a neat self-reference to “Drowning Man”.

Whilst “Peace on Earth” is a touching ballad, though, it isn’t really greater than the sum of its parts, and it shouldn’t really call for nearly five minutes of the listener’s time, either. It’s a song that makes its point, possibly goes on for too long, and shuffles out of the door again, wanting to be competent rather than spectacular. As a result, it’s an enjoyable enough song whilst playing, but is also too understated to be amongst the most memorable songs on the album. Most of the features mentioned in the paragraph above were lyrical, which hits on the song’s main problem – the music is somewhat lacking real interesting shifts in timbre or tone, only lifting slightly as it progresses. It’s not that this song needs a hook – I’m not crass enough to demand one – or a Big U2ish Moment a la, say, the chorus of “Pride”. What it does need, though, is a knoll, a river or some scrubland amongst what currently, in soundscape terms, a steppe.

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~ by 4trak on May 1, 2008.

2 Responses to “Peace on Earth”

  1. Yeah this is a interesting song. Its not a very catchy song, I think it might be too lyrically driven and seems busy. I agree with you, its not a bad song, but not something I HAVE to listen to when turning on the iPod.

  2. Can’t hear this one without thinking of 9/11 and the version of this that was playing on the local radio with a bunch of 9/11 stuff mixed in. Kind of ruined the song for me I guess.

    Also, now that I think about it, that makes six songs off ATYCLB that got major radio play here in Utah:
    Beautiful Day
    Walk On
    Stuck In A Moment
    Elevation
    IN A Little While
    and Peace ON Earth

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