A Room At The Heartbreak Hotel

Absolutely no prizes for guessing what this is about. Yes, anyone who somehow hasn’t heard of Elvis might mistake this song as being about a prostitute, and to be fair, it’s only the occasional set of lines like Like Judy Garland, like Valentino/You give your life for rock n’ roll that really suggest otherwise, along with that repeated choral reference to the titular hotel. Certainly there’s a repeated reference to lust and sexual desire, along with fame and the high life, and “a ride on the mystery train” could be referring to any of that. Despite the whole rock’n’roll suggestion, though, the song isn’t really that dangerous or rebellious; instead, it’s a warm and fuzzy tribute, which is more than appropriate for an “Angel of Harlem” b-side.

It also seems that the song takes the warmest and fuzziest elements of Rattle and Hum and draws them together, too – although possibly the other way round, given U2’s way of writing and releasing songs. There’s the celebratory horns of “Angel of Harlem” mixed with the choir of “Hawkmoon 269”, and that guitar tone off “Desire”. Ultimately, “A Room At The Heartbreak Hotel” isn’t in any way dark, cynical, or lurking with intensely cryptic mystery, which is something that potentially robs it of being album-worthy, or for that matter a classic song. What it is, though, is a big load of sugary loveliness, which is always a welcome counterpoint to what can occasionally be excessive severity and sobriety amongst U2’s late-80s work.

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~ by 4trak on May 23, 2008.

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