Thursday, 11 March 2010
Killer Opening Songs (Where the Streets Have No Name by U2)
This week, Killer Opening Songs has a very tough task. What track should it choose to highlight the career of one of the better rock and pop bands ever? Because when it comes to Introductory Melodies with Murderous Tendencies, U2 is second to none. Should K.O.S. choose 'I Will Follow' from the Irish band's debut album 'Boy'? Or how about 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' from their 1983 record 'War'? All excellent tracks, with a heavy mix of punk, Celtic folk and a sliver of new wave. But K.O.S. has made up his mind and Our Favourite Regular Session Dedicated to Lethal Opening Harmonies has plumped for what he believes to be the watershed in U2's recording career: 'Where the Streets Have No Name'.
Underpinned by a desire 'to tear down the walls/that hold me inside', the song explores the religious division in Belfast, Northern Ireland where both Catholics and Protestants were easily identified by the streets on which they lived. The Edge sets the tone from the outset with a succession of rapid notes if somewhat portentous whilst Bono's voice sounds like a plea ('I want to feel sunlight on my face/I see the dust cloud disappear/Without a trace/I want to take shelter from the poison rain/Where the streets have no name').
But this K.O.S.'s merit doesn't end there, in the melody itself. 'Where the Streets Have No Name' also ushers in three more tracks that are Killer Opening Songs in their own right. Any of the following tunes could have very well been used to announce the arrival of 'The Joshua Tree' album: gospel-influenced 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', stadium anthem 'With or Without You' and bass-driven 'Bullet the Blue Sky'. With their fifth studio album, U2 had suddenly achieved the maturity they had craved for. More importantly, they had gone from being a very good live band - albeit, pretty average in the studio - to becoming a household name.
And the essential ingredients in their success were (are) their musicianship and fellowship. U2 remains one of the few rock groups that can still boast their original members. And despite being found more often these days supporting just causes or allegedly evading taxes in his native Ireland (note to lawyers, 'allegedly', I hope that's clear) Bono is still the ultimate front man. The Edge has been hailed by Rolling Stones magazine as one of the better guitarists in the world. Keeping a low profile, but being instrumental in providing U2 with a powerful backdrop, is bassist Adam Clayton whilst on drums Larry Mullen excels at serving militaristic beats every now and then ('Sunday Bloody Sunday').
There is no way that one Killer Opening Song can summarise U2's thirty-four-year-old career yet, 'Where the Streets Have No Name' deserves its place of honour in the Irish band's musical canon.
Next Post: 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music', to be published on Sunday 14th March at 10:00am (GMT)