If You Wear That Velvet Dress

Started in 1993 (you can spot “et Dress” on the Zooropa cover, along with “Wake Up” and “ss Me Kill M”), “If You Wear That Velvet Dress” starts in an oddly quiet, almost eerie manner, wavering tones, almost excessively clean guitar, extremely gentle drumming and shifting, sliding bass. It doesn’t get much louder, either, which makes it a definite oddity amongst U2 songs, which usually have at least a moderately wide dynamic. Overall, the song plays as if the band have had the police round, telling them to turn it down a notch, and the song shifts upwards in volume very carefully as if not to piss off the neighbours again. That, or they’re playing as if they’ve got something to hide. However interesting the result – and I’d argue that the really upfront bass does add intrigue – it’s certainly different.

It’s also the first song of Pop‘s last quarter, which is where religion takes a heavy turn and things really get interesting. To quote Slant Magazine’s view of this song, “only a man who’s a long way from being “saved” could concoct a ballad as unapologetically dodgy as this”. It’s very rare for Bono to be completely in character, too – the likes of Mirrorball Man and MacPhisto were in part sly comments on excess and society, and reflected a bit of sincerity – which means that whether this song is sincerity or fiction is a tough question. On much of Pop Bono seems to be despairing at the ungodly, yet it’s songs like these that bring severe ambiguity over whether he isn’t there himself, given the lust-filled nature of the lyrics. In addition, those lyrics often contrast sun and moon (the moon was naked and cold/I was acting like a two year old), a reference, once again, back to “The Fly”, which suggests more than anything that Pop may have been the conclusion of sorts to a trilogy. Overall, it’s a song that suggests a lot but never gives away details; a whole five minutes is dedicated to pure suggestion. The Joshua Tree‘s “Exit”, a track ten that occurred ten years earlier, can largely be characterised only by the suffix “-cide”. Here, it’s a similar situation, only this time said suffix is “-philia”. And ultimately, that’s all you’re getting. Brilliant.

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~ by 4trak on July 16, 2008.

5 Responses to “If You Wear That Velvet Dress”

  1. holy shit i never ever noticed the words on the front of Zooropa until you just mentioned it. Thats pretty cool, esp. since they are titles of songs that would be released later.

  2. You also missed “rs of Lebano” on the HTDAAB cover…

  3. i’ll have to look for that one.
    Has that name been confirmed as a song on the new record?

  4. I was kidding about it being on the HTDAAB cover, but apparently it’s a confirmed one for whatever the next album is. In any event, the news about it keeps changing all the time, and the Internet keeps dishing out various conflicting information, so who knows?

    Whatever the truth is, it should be clearer in three months. It’d better be.

  5. If it weren’t for the last two songs on “Pop,” I’d think Bono had lost his faith completely at this point. The whole album is the story of a man teetering as close to the edge of nihilism as one can get, before begging something or someone to imbue the slightest notion of meaning back into his life.

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