Coming in with a typical fadein, “Rejoice” doesn’t seem too remarkable. And indeed, it probably isn’t. It riffs on the usual October imagery about confusion, buildings tumbling down, etc. Larry and Adam play with propulsive urgency. Edge uses the delay unit in a fairly standard manner. There’s another of those drum breaks in which Larry does some kind of repeated descending tom roll, but essentially there’s a slight air of U2-by-wire here, and as such I can’t, writing a couple of minutes after listening to the song, remember much of it at all.

There’s also a slight air of the Shalom teachings within the whole thing, the narrator talking of how I can’t change the world/But I can change the world in me; a couplet which suggests that always-slightly-scary Christian idea (usually fundamentalist) of “being in the world, but not of the world”, which can often (not always, of course) equate to believers isolating themselves in a way that can almost be cult-like. It’s not really the sort of message I imagine even a devout Christian moderate would want to hear, which only really adds to the list of negatives. Essentially, we’re dealing with the sort of heavy message that it’s a relief U2 backed away from. Essentially, “Rejoice” more than most other songs (even on October) sounds hectoring and preachy with its lyrics, and somewhat bland in its music. It’s a real low for the band, but they are, after all, human.


~ by 4trak on May 9, 2008.

3 Responses to “Rejoice”

  1. I think you’re making a good point here, mixed with a little inaccuracy. It’s true that, to say the least, this was not U2’s most subtle period, lyrically: probably a little too directly influenced by the (possibly cultish?- I don’t know) Shalom group. But the idea of being in the world but not entirely of it is hardly fundamentalist, but the mainstream Christian belief that, ultimately, our priorities, ethics, and way of living are based on God’s, rather than on whatever culture the Christian finds himself in at any given moment.
    But I’m still not sure that’s what Bono means here, actually: this could be a more humble recognition that he needs to change himself at least as much as he wants to change everything else. Mind you, it didn’t stop him trying to change the world later on 😉

  2. Shalom was apparently quite cultish, and got more so as it moved on. Not to say you’re wrong, but I do remember a quote (it’s in “Bono on Bono”, I think) which talked about an ethos of how more devout attitude apparently amounted to more blessing, and how they were urged to give up the band because they couldn’t serve God and society. Still, ye make a good point.

    It’s probably because I’m too of the world. Lol.

  3. Ooops. ’twas Larry in “U2 by U2”.

    “The idea was to create a Christian community, where people would live and work under strict Christian standards, When you’re young and impressionable it all sounds ideal. But there was something terribly wrong with the concept. It was a bit like the bigger the commitment you made, the closer you were to heaven. It was a really screwed-up view of the world and nothing to do with what I now understand a Christian faith to be. There was huge pressure to follow that path and what made it even stranger was that rather than it coming from the church leaders, it was coming from our friends. I learned a lot though and I also gained a faith I didn’t have before, and that’s still with me.”

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