4th of July

One of the rare instrumentals on U2 albums (U2 stopped doing instrumentals generally around 1985; why is unclear, as they’re often pretty solid), “4th of July” is also very minimalist in its form – cycling around a couple of riffs over its two minute length not unlike, for example, “Things To Make And Do”. It’s also minimalist in its arrangement, merely consisting of guitar and bass with a total absence of beat or vocals, and the odd use of ambient textures. Perhaps the final major feature, however, is that it’s an improvisation, and whilst many U2 songs nowadays arise out of improvisations, what’s heard on disc is usually at least a fourth draft, as opposed to the unaltered piece heard here.

Naturally, the title invokes ideas of the USA and Independence Day, matching the vague American themes arising through “Pride”, “Elvis Presley And America” and “MLK”; that said, the piece is actually titled to commemorate the birth of Edge’s daughter Hollie, still an odd reasoning given how ethereal and slightly ominous the piece actually is. That said, the atmospherics of Slane Castle seem to come through here possibly more so than on the rest of the album, the lack of vocals bringing the delay work on the guitar to greater prominence as it seemingly floats around staircases and archways and the bass drifts along the floor. Or rather, that’s how I envision it.

“4th of July” thus makes for a great interlude, although given the context of the album it’s hard to treat it as more significant than that. Along with its predecessor, it seems to be built to lead up to the monolithic song that follows it.

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~ by 4trak on August 29, 2008.

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