Dancing Barefoot

Slight confession: I’ve never actually heard the original of “Dancing Barefoot”. Probably a forgivable thing, though, because I’ve never been as inspired by, or aware of, Patti Smith as U2 have. Certainly U2 were aware of her own cover of “Gloria”, which totally flipped the lyrics into unholy rebellion (“Jesus died for somebody’s sins/But not mine”) and may well have re-flipped the sentiment back in their own (but different) “Gloria”. Apparently, “Dancing Barefoot” is not so much wrestling with deist concepts (despite that repeated last line of Oh God, I feel for you) but about Jeanne Hébuterne, a common-law wife of an artist (and an artist herself) who committed suicide after her husband’s death. It hence stands as a song that slots into U2’s surprisingly large repetoire of songs about death and suicide (not to mention the other common themes of drug abuse, poverty, war, familial separation and relationship breakdown) that stretch through much of the U2 discography.

The song’s also tied into the general late-80s period of U2 stylistically, particularly with b-sides and non-album tracks; often wailing electric guitar towards the end of the song, hard-strummed acoustic before that, an echo to the vocal that suggests Bono being trapped in a void, and an overall propulsion to the song.
As such, it’s not a song that particularly stands out, and it doesn’t deserve an album spot either, but it is nonetheless effective.


~ by 4trak on May 27, 2008.

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