Interestingly listed as “Pride (In The Name of Love)” on Rattle and Hum, no such brackets appeared on the original four years earlier. Of course, this is a somewhat peripheral detail; the fact of the matter is that this was U2’s first properly big hit (#3 in the UK, #33 in the US) – don’t forget that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” wasn’t a widely available single at the time – and hence one of the key elements of launching the band into superstardom in the late 1980s (The Joshua Tree was an immediate big hit, and hence a symptom rather than a cause). This importance has translated over the years into a huge presence – naturally, it had to go on The Best Of 1980-1990, but it also was a must-include on U218, and more laterally, the one song they had to utilise on The Simpsons, just so we know we’re dealing with U2 at that point.

What’s really caused this, however, apart from the song’s radio-friendliness, is that the song is simply stadium-sized, the studio version transcending its studio confines. There’s almost certainly no digital system, no SSL and no MIDI involved in the guitar solo, yet it is, quite literally, soaring – it sounds as if it’s being broadcast across vast plains, valleys and mountain ranges all the same, even though all that’s going on is a guitar, a pedal, and a tricksy setup of amps and microphones. The vocal coda, too, gives a fantastic sense of mass. Musically, it’s simply fantastic, and the Edge in particular excels.

What lets “Pride” down, if we’re picking a weakness, is the lyrics. Bono doesn’t exactly fail; it’s just that his abstraction, which paints fantastic images and gels well with The Unforgettable Fire‘s occasionally dark impressionism elsewhere, but on this one song it’s misplaced. The entirety of the lyrical message is, essentially, that Martin Luther King was a great man whose actions transcended his death, something which few of us not involved in white supremacism could disagree with. Compared to “Bullet The Blue Sky” criticising the US whilst the Cold War hadn’t reached an endgame, or “Sunday Bloody Sunday” taking the pacifist attitude when the IRA had strong support at home and abroad, it seems too easy a message, and unenlightening as a result. This doesn’t take too much away from “Pride”, but where the guitar part, vocals and rhythm section all conspire to make a classic, the lyrics are just enough to stop it from being the best song on the album.


~ by 4trak on September 12, 2008.

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