When Love Comes To Town

“When Love Comes To Town” is, quite simply, one of the tracks that indicates the best and worst of Rattle and Hum. On the downside, this is a song lacking grand creative vision and lacking originality in style. Yet it compensates with general big-heartedness, and a real desire to charm every listener. Hence the big, ranging guitars, the heavy thump of drums, and the enlisted help of an old, gravelly-voiced bluesman, namely B. B. King. The choice of B. B. King, possibly the most famous blues act of the time (and probably for the last few decades) is somewhat of a crass move, however, which is inevitably part of the reason the album got criticism. Overall, then, a big, clumsy song, although somewhat lovable with it.

Oh, and with themes of betrayal. Lyrically it’s not too subtle either, but its broad strokes do carry strong images, and reveal along with other songs (I’m thinking “Love Rescue Me”) how, in some respects, Rattle and Hum is actually one of the most pious albums in the U2 discography. It’s not just the crucifixion reference, but also the image of the abandoned bride (She was pale as the laces of her wedding gown/But I left her standing before love came to town) and the reference to the old “crossroads at midnight” legend of blues yore. “When Love Comes To Town” is seemingly one of U2’s most straightforward songs musically and lyrically, so it’s easy to see why it became a single and a hit. Yet it doesn’t mean that the song is lacking darkness or intrigue, or that it doesn’t mark an interesting time or place within the band’s history. It seems the band underwent a theological shift under the pressure of The Joshua Tree‘s supernova success that shrank away somewhat on Achtung Baby and crept in through the 1990s, as if the band’s religiosity in their careers have ebbed and flowed along a (slightly uneven at points) sine curve. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it can result in some of the best and worst songs U2 have made, and here, it leans towards “best”.

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~ by 4trak on July 24, 2008.

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