Love Rescue Me

There’s a key thing I’ve missed off Rattle and Hum up to now, and that is that, once you remove those short interludes, the average song length on the album is nearly five minutes, and nearly half of the proper songs on there call for at least three hundred seconds of your time. Within U2’s 80s period, this is the Album of Epics. The song that probably comes across as most epic, however, is probably “Love Rescue Me”; 6:23 doesn’t make it the longest song on the album, but the quiet start with harmonica builds up to something huge, bringing in the brass along with the big rock setup (for some reason, U2 have never used brass before or since Rattle and Hum in any big way), before bringing in a final calm. Bob Dylan supposedly turns up, although which bits of the lyrics are Dylan’s is anyone’s guess.

Naturally, given the context, it’s easy to assume that ‘love’ is essentially God, that the song speaks of an individual opening up spiritually, but there’s no open, explicit mention of God, which means the song is slightly open to a secular reading of crushing isolation or loneliness (OK, thy rod and staff stretches this somewhat, but all the same). Both ideas work, as the imagery generally serves some form of isolation and weariness anyway – the purple of her eyes, the dark shades of what I used to be, the cold mirror of a glass – or else of undesirable, hypocritical individuals – They ask me to reveal/The very thoughts they would conceal – who also seem to regard the protagonist as an idol. The ending is somewhat ambiguous; the individual is ready for the new world [they] can see, but the listener isn’t told whether they enter it, whether they progress. AMG summed this song up as being “a minor blues gem”, and that’s probably, in fact, the fairest assessment.

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~ by 4trak on August 13, 2008.

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