Love Comes Tumbling

Found on the somewhat pointless Wide Awake In America EP and the much better ‘limited edition’ Best of 1980-1990, “Love Comes Tumbling” is an odd one. Production-wise, it actually sounds oddly 80s in the cliched sense, drums sound dry and fake, guitars echoing not in the traditional Edge sense much of the time (particularly during verses) but instead reverbing strangely, and the bass sounding almost dead. I recall one critic once said of 1980s production that it was designed to make the synthetic sound real and the real synthetic, rendering it all a homogeneous radio-friendly synthesis. Unfortunately, “Love Comes Tumbling” has fallen into that trap. My liner notes say that the band produced it themselves, which at that stage (1984) was clearly a bit of a mistake, although Zooropa (1993) produced in part by the Edge manages to work well enough, suggesting that inexperience or zeitgeist may have been to blame.

That’s a real shame: the song itself it actually quite interesting in its lyrical and (particularly the opening/closing guitar riff) musical circularity. The character of the song explains Love don’t need to find a way/You find your own way but then forgets that [he] can’t stay. What to do of the seemingly impossible situation? The character here invents a nonsensical clause that will keep him closer to his lover. It seems the regret comes from sexual encounters – it’s not clear if it’s about adultery, fornication or some other misdeed. Either way, the title applies, but the character is too obsessive to let go; the first verse repeats the second, all roads leading back to the original issue. The ambiguity and conflict of this makes for an interesting listen – clearly, whatever’s going is not right, and damaging the relationship, but extricating out of the mess seems near impossible, like the couple are locked in some romantic equivalent of M. C. Escher’s “Relativity”. The biggest problem with the song, though, is where it’d go on either The Unforgettable Fire or The Joshua Tree – or any other album, for that matter.

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~ by 4trak on May 2, 2008.

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