An Cat Dubh

This song features a vibraphone. Not the most gripping observation, in isolation, but these tiny, almost insignificant details in the arrangement become a big deal on an album such as Boy, which throughout most of it features nothing beyond the normal rock setup. Indeed, the long, drawn-out guitar notes also suggest the use of an e-bow and light tremolo, so clearly the band had gone nuts here. There’s also the long outro leading the road out to “Into The Heart” – or at least, that’s the case on American pressings, which mark the track as 6:21 in length – one of the longest in the band’s 1980-1984 output. On European pressings this gets shortened, which means that “Into The Heart” begins as a lengthy bass run. There’s no particular reason why this difference needs to exist. In any event, both songs combine into an eight-minute double-song anyway, and given the lyrics, it makes total sense; one leads into the other.

Lyrically the song’s subject is well document as being about an older woman Bono briefly had a relationship with whilst split from Ali, the title being Gaelic for “the black cat”. There’s further suggestions that this took place in Amsterdam, or somehow links to Amsterdam’s De Wallen area, which just tops off the whole loss-of-innocence theme to Boy nicely. It’s the “Day Without Me” for U2’s canon of “overpowering woman” songs; not necessarily the best, but the first.

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~ by 4trak on June 22, 2008.

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