Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World

A drinking song with appropriately drunken ambition reflected in the title. Having a song under alcoholic influence also allows for smartly odd features to the song, such as the initial metallic clang of the drums turning into something more natural, the hazy keyboards, that hopping bass run before the last verse, the fact that the bass is more prominent anyhow, and that squiggling guitar loop that seemingly runs through most of the song. In lyrics the results are similar, with the lines How far you gonna go/Before you lose your way back home showing the protagonist getting somewhere intended by accident; considering U2 had spent months attempting re-invention for Achtung Baby and then suddenly landed with “One”, it’s an apt image and sentiment. There’s also the continuation of “Mysterious Way”‘s sentiments in the great image of how A woman needs a man/Like a fish needs a bicycle/When you’re trying to throw your arms around the world (a particularly cutting observation in 1991, when Western society was seeing the end of second wave feminism and the start of the third).

Yet TTTYAATW (acronyminises horribly, incidentally) remains strange instead of surrealist, happily drunk rather than aggressively, and is clearly intended for the kind of low-key singalong spirit found within Zooropa. Indeed, when surrealism does turn up it’s in reference, speaking of Dali/With a supermarket trolley; at the time, possibly an amusingly wry comment on consumerism and art, although in retrospect it brings to mind the PopMart images of the early primate evolving into the modern man with a supermarket trolley of his own. Overall, here’s a song that’s maybe smarter than it initially appears, tying in hints of wider political themes with the personal, along with arrangements and timbres that dare to be unusual considering form. And that, I shall argue to the world, is why Achtung Baby chops down The Joshua Tree.

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~ by 4trak on August 3, 2008.

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