Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)

This one doesn’t half initially sound like it’s from Rattle and Hum, which naturally means it isn’t, and in many respects it’s very Joshua Tree. It seems to be one of those woman-as-force-of-nature songs that crops up across the U2 discography, the most notable example of which is, of course, “Mysterious Ways”. Such a theme is most obvious in the lines She is the gun fire/She is the car crash/She is an avalanche in which the unnamed “she” (Bono almost never seems to name his female characters, or for that matter his male ones, which is a very folkish thing to do, but also avoids a trap of being too niche) becomes increasingly natural and powerful as the verse builds – going from gun fire to an avalanche in three lines. There’s also plenty of imagery of gripping, holding, tugging and tension, generally that of being pulled about. In addition, we get the lines I love you ’cause I need to/Not because I need you.

Musically, the song is immediately identifiable as late-80s; there a certain cinematic sway to the song that immediately pins it to being around U2’s 1985-1989 period, in the overall way the chords, guitar and bass work. There’s also the mid-tempo and the steady build from Larry, almost like the opening to “Streets” carried across four and a half minutes. It’s not as effective as the best of Joshua Tree, though, and the song would have been somewhat generic alongside the likes of “With or Without You”, a similar song that’s nonetheless more unique and powerful, which naturally means that the band were right to leave it off the album, and put it on the single. Which was, erm, “With or Without You”.

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~ by 4trak on May 12, 2008.

One Response to “Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)”

  1. That’s a great review, I think you nailed this one, particularly in your second para. And while it wasn’t quite right for the album, it was a very good b-side, I reckon, and reminds me of lazy days on campus, many years ago…

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