Bullet The Blue Sky

The studio version of “Bullet The Blue Sky” is a slight disappointment, although that said, I speak as someone who heard the Rattle and Hum version first, and more on that later. It’s probably because Larry’s drumming, that (should be, to more-than-casual fans) familiar and somehow both militaristic and hip-hop like beat, sounds very much like it’s confined in a studio. So does Bono’s voice, which means that Eno and Lanois only really come good on the string instruments – Adam’s bass is a suitably blurry and shifting pulse humming ominously over the scene, and Edge pulls off outright aggression suggestive of genuine rawk instead of, y’know, that pansy echoey shit. Ordinarily a bit of a guitar anti-hero, he also solos, and it’s at this point that it probably should be said – most Edge solos are damn good. Why? Because they’re almost never self-indulgent, usually kept within a reasonable amount of time, and usually work within the context of the song, here resulting in a sweeping aerial attack of a piece.

Whilst “Bullet The Blue Sky” is occasionally criticised by, well, critics – AMG calling the song “clumsy, heavy rock and portentous lyrics” – quite often for being overly serious, it’s a key part of the album lyrically. It might also be argued that the song, due to its lyrical matter, has dated, but such an argument doesn’t really apply to “Red Hill Mining Town” and it probably doesn’t apply here either. Much of the album’s great swathes of Americana stand as a tribute, but “Bullet” gives the balance, knocking rhetorical chunks out of the Reagan administration’s foreign and defence policy that was arguably pointless with socialism in slow global retreat and a national debt that was sharply increasing. It’s not that Bono is particularly siding with the Sandanistas in this song; it’s more that he disapproves strongly of the hypocrisy of attacking a nation that had engaged in free and fair elections like the US. Perhaps the stronger point, though, is simply the pacifist stance previously seen in “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, arguing that few really gain from conflict. “Bullet” is thus ultimately a song that is undoubtedly powerful, but not quite executed right, and strangely it’s the normally borderline-inerrant production team that seems to be to blame.

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~ by 4trak on May 22, 2008.

3 Responses to “Bullet The Blue Sky”

  1. I agree about the limitations of the studio version, but still think it comes across powerfully. One of the key things with this section of JT is the track ordering. Bullet is a powerful breath of air following on from the three sublime singles. And the dramatic ending (‘…of America’) followed by brief pause and then quiet start to Running to Stand Still is one of those great album moments, just a perfect contrast.

  2. […] 21, 2008 This is more like it. The original “Bullet The Blue Sky” sounded a little like a band confined in a room, and suffered as a result, but of course […]

  3. […] “Running To Stand Still” would be in Ireland; “Streets” in Ethiopia; “Bullet The Blue Sky” in Nicaragua, and finally, there’s “Red Hill Mining Town” in Britain, […]

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