Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

OK, obvious stuff out of the way first: I’m counting in the official lyrics 51 uses of the word “baby”, which makes for a cunning stunt of flipping a cliche into something a bit obsessive, pleading and desperate. It also seems to prefigure R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon”,  which also used 50+ repetitions of the word “yeah” to flip that into something droll and casual. Bono has also added that extra factor of the birth of his first daughter, Eve may have something to do with it. In any event, it’s certainly attention-grabbing.

There’s also some damn heavy imagery and descriptions in this, as you can only expect from Achtung Baby. This scenario here seems to be simple once the last verse rolls around – quite simply, a couple who could take a lot of risk, potential pain, tension and stress, (seemingly indicated by the narrator’s point of how he remembers that they could sleep on stones – a tacit admission that they no longer can) have pushed things too far, or lost that durability to the relationship. Certainly the narrator isn’t in a good way – we’re given that not only does he lie with his partner in “whispers and moans”, and that he feels like trash.  He’s thus calling for help, imploring with the immense amount of babies (sorry, “baby”s), which in the final line end up sounding slightly resigned, as if to say that the other character, the silent woman, now has the responsibility and final decision.

As for the music, there’s an oddly uplifting vibe to it (indeed, much of the song is major chords, with the odd fifth and the use of A2 before the final verse) after the ethereal opening. Naturally, it may well be reflecting the hope expressed in the song, and the way the guitar riff in particular sounds so positive might suggest a misplaced level of confidence. The whole song ends on reverbed tones fading out, as if to suggest that hope has been extinguished. The earthier tones during the last verse also bring about that added sense of harshness, showing how the reality of the situation is not how that earlier, skipping riff suggests it is. Throughout there’s the new, funkier, looser and more swinging rhythm section work that backs the guitar well, along with those string-like keyboards. It all makes for an oddly logical juxtaposition.


~ by 4trak on May 11, 2008.

4 Responses to “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”

  1. This is one of my all time favorites behind “Lemon” and the original “Salome'”. It could have easily been released as a single. I believe there is an early bootleg version from the achtung beibi sessions.

  2. […] conflict between the protagonists finally reach a point of no return. That final hope within “Ultraviolet” has gone, and there’s no hope left, no more energy to continue, and the characters in […]

  3. […] 6, 2008 The predecessor to “Ultraviolet“, “Lady With The Spinning Head” reveals more about Achtung Baby lyrically than it […]

  4. […] U2. Compare, for instance, the guitar riff that’s relatively midgrounded in the mix to “Ultraviolet“, and compare the timbre of the drums to “Zoo Station”. Actually, it’s […]

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