MLK

One of the shortest-titled songs in the U2 discography, said short title is also pretty obvious and self-explanatory; whilst Martin Luther King isn’t explicitly mentioned, the album’s overall undercurrent of American homage gives that strong suggestion, particularly in the way that another “king” associated with Memphis gets a tribute in the song before. Lyrically the song is, perhaps, more powerful given events in 2008, with Bono’s statement of and may your dreams be realised almost sounding like some extremely tacit and very forward endorsement (24 years in advance?) of Barack Obama. It isn’t, of course; merely the hope of black (and indeed, general human) equality, respect and acceptance in the future. Whether Bono suspected a major step forward within his generation isn’t clear here, only the optimism of progress being made.

Musically, it ain’t much. Practically a capella, in fact, with the merest hint of ambient keyboards and tremolo tones behind the vocal. It fits in with the opening lines well enough: Sleep/Sleep tonight/And may your dreams/Be realised. It’s possibly also the one area where U2 suddenly sound all Brian Eno on The Unforgettable Fire; everywhere else, there’s actually that synthesis between atmospherics and genuine rock that gives the album its great impressionistic feel. “MLK”, essentially, is what happens when the guitars, bass and drums are taken away. I can’t exactly criticise the music, though; for one, there isn’t any, really.

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~ by 4trak on May 29, 2008.

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