Walk To The Water

There’s something odd about the production on this one; maybe it’s the reverb settings, or the sparse nature of it (literally basic rock set-up, some ambient keyboard from about a quarter-distance in, some occasional strange noises (theremin?), and that strange opening that somehow evokes something vaguely psychadelic). It might also be the fact that the song has no real lift, preferring to possess a flat dynamic. The lolloping rhythm also suggests reggae, oddly enough.

Lyrically it’s still Joshua Tree themes – water being in the title, roads, and the familiar line of being “blown by the wind”. We also have a procession of characters who are somewhat McCartneyesque in their abstraction (I’m thinking particularly of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” off Abbey Road, and that ilk.). Firstly, a woman insisting that “she wasn’t cold”, before driving home, supposedly, and heading towards the sea. Then we’re given a man who hypes up his job – He said he was an artist/But he really painted billboards. Ironically, it seems that he’s an oft-ignored individual, despite his job of painting those billboards in attention-grabbing “large capital letters”. Finally, we get a man in a hotel with a suitcase, and it’s perhaps this man who reveals the song’s meaning, as close as you can get: his suitcase is Full of things he doesnt need. Given the previous characters, there’s two conclusions this writer can draw here, and either, both or none could be correct. Either these characters are suicidal – hence their neglect, and apparent isolation – or else the song is a precursor of sorts to Pop, disparaging materialism (most verses talk about some kind of material possession) and emphasising the need for spiritual completeness (hence repeated references to water).

“Walk To The Water”, ultimately ends up being non-album through the fact that it’s more interesting than gripping. It’s particularly good to hear Adam’s basswork more clearly, off on its own eccentric rhythmic workings, but neither the Edge or Larry pull off anything spectacular or different. Bono’s delivery is pretty much spoken word throughout most of it, in a kind of murmuring tone similar to that on “Bullet The Blue Sky”, which probably wasn’t the best route to take. A partial success, then.

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~ by 4trak on May 13, 2008.

One Response to “Walk To The Water”

  1. In the same year that saw the Joshua Tree, Robbie Robertson released his self-titled solo debut. It was produced by Daniel Lanois, who worked, as we all know, on U2’s Joshua Tree at the same time. There is a song on Robertson’s album that is very similar in mood to “Walk To The Water”: “Somewhere Down The Crazy River”. It seems that Lanois was working with two different artists on the same idea.

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