Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car

Like “Some Days Are Better Than Others“, this isn’t exactly a song held in high regard on Zooropa, which makes the band’s commentary on it all the more interesting. For example, “the songs that are the most abstract and disconnected from our own situation are the closest to revealing where we’re at” (Edge, 1993) seemingly suggests that this song, of all things, is deeper and more personal than “The First Time”, despite its somewhat theatrical and sinister undercurrent. The idea that this is U2 in a less serious mode, however, is slightly reinforced by the fact that during the Zooropa tour, this was MacPhisto’s star turn, complete with melodramatic stage presence. Oddly enough, the artwork next to the song’s lyrics in the Zooropa booklet aren’t of a crashed car at all, instead using a crashing plane.

Perhaps the biggest musical feature of this song, amidst the alternately blipping, echoing, fuzzing or grime-like textures and the heavy drums, beats and bass is the use of sampling. Even if U2’s electronica era was extensive (effectively a trilogy of albums with Zooropa, OS1 and Pop), sampling still wasn’t that common an undertaking, which makes two uses in one song relatively remarkable. Utilising “The City Sleeps” by MC900 ft. Jesus isn’t terribly remarkable in itself, even if it is a sly way of getting a religious reference into the song. It’s more the opening fanfare, supposedly from an album called “Lenin’s Favourite Songs”. Where they got it from is one thing, but there’s a suggestion here of what this sinister “Daddy” of the title is – it may well be that this is the communist (well, Marxist-Leninist socialism, if we’re being strictly accurate) equivalent of the fascist “Numb” – a totalitarian system that claims care whilst screwing over its citizens (he gives you the keys to a flamin’ car) and rendering them dependent. The line Daddy’s with you wherever you are adds to this idea of a looming presence that isn’t entirely benevolent. Earlier I mentioned the artwork; underneath the lyrics is a logo that looks suspiciously like a hammer and sickle, although it’s not very distinct.

The other explanation, and somewhat more band-sanctioned, is that it’s a more abstract song about dependency, of an irresponsible individual who requires something or someone to get them through life all the time. Potentially, this is yet another in the bizarrely long canon of songs about heroin, although the song is suitably abstract to ensure this is only one interpretation. In any event, what we’ve got here is a song alternately lighthearted and serious, heavy and light, and as such underrated.

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~ by 4trak on September 3, 2008.

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