Lemon

At nearly seven minutes (6:56 if we’re being utterly, pedantically precise), “Lemon” is U2’s longest song on an album (or possibly anywhere, excluding remixes), although at the time of writing “Moment of Surrender” is threatening release and a topping of that record by at least a minute. Starting with what might be the electronica equivalent of someone counting in, it then shifts into pure disco mode, dominated not by a synthesiser (would’ve made sense by 1993; would’ve actually made sense by about 1978, but all the same) but an almost unrecognisably distorted guitar, gated and tremolo’d into an ephemeral presence over the song. Add a firm but not overbearing beat and a degree of funk with the bassline, and you’re good for what may, with its narrative thread and grand ideas about human nature, be Zooropa‘s “One”. Although it’s probably not as good.

Of course, there’s nearly twice the space to use here as there is on the typical Boy or October song, which means that lyrically there’s got to be more. And there is; ostensibly this is another song about Bono’s mother, using footage of her in a yellow dress as a jumping-off point into a wider comment on human nature and the desire to preserve the past and to observe as much of the present, leading to a natural desire for ambition (cue citation for, well, 2nd and 3rd verses in their entirety).

“Lemon” wasn’t very widely released as a commercial single (limited in the US, Japan and in Australia, where it reached #6), but it was widely put out amongst clubs, which means there is an absurd number of versions, be they edits or remixes – my investigations turn up 18 official ones (there’s probably even unofficial ones on Fruitlegs and other non-sanctioned releases), far more than either a) turned up on the single or b) than is technically needed. With all of these kicking about, naturally a lot of them don’t really call attention to themselves unless they’re special in some way, either being the longest (Bad Yard Club Mix, 10:13), shortest (Lemonade Mix Edit, 4:16) or most well-released besides the album version, which would be the Jeep Mix.

It’s probably also the best of these remixes, too, because it adds a gritty, slashing hip-hopism to the originally floaty arrangement, although someone (I suspect Bono) is saying “alright” far too much. The original, though, is pretty damn good in its own right, which makes it awkward as to how you’d make the perfect version. In any event, it’s the original that backs a suitably bizarre video, the jerky motion and b/w of it inspired by early cinematography (in keep with the lyrical ideas of inventions) and a somewhat U2ish sense of humour informing those incredibly obvious captions (“man sitting down”, “man smiling”, “man running”). Zooropa may be the only album where all the videos are utter classics – whether you think they were at the top of their game sonically, surely they were visually.

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~ by 4trak on September 14, 2008.

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