Another Time, Another Place

Coming between themes of mental illness and suicide is one of U2’s most odd songs. Or, more accurately, one of their more odd moments, a stop-starting passage that seems distinctly German in its attacking tone, but could well be Gaelic. It also breaks in suddenly, as if the whole situation which has been building in the song has finally gone too far, and the narrator has to break out of the confines of English and into their natural language – or even just another language, in order to vent. There’s a tone of anger throughout, speaking of how Another child has lost the race. Even so, the song doesn’t elaborate, referencing the feeling of something better in dreams and lying on clouds. In a very abstract way, the song simply seems to be on the loss of innocence – quite simply a ‘vanilla’ Boy theme.

This would make the song potentially very dull, but it does have a redeeming feature in its sheer charging nature, a typically unhinged Edge solo (he seems to solo more often on Boy, which may be a consequence of Bono’s reluctance to write lyrics leaving songs slightly short.) and of course that non-English/Gaelic section. If it gets mentioned too many times, however, it’s because of a possible weakness in the song, which is that said section dominates it – it’s so striking that it’s hard to think of other features of the song; it works as a song in itself.

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~ by 4trak on July 23, 2008.

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