Monday, January 19, 2009

U2 releases Get On Your Boots from their upcoming album No Line on the Horizon



An Obama-era song if we've ever heard one. This could turn out to be the "I'm so smart and you're so stupid" era if this song is any clue. The album name reminds us at our table of the skyscape in parts of Iraq - including the part about the boots. But maybe that's just me. It seems, well, mocking - and incredibly arrogant. The question is - who is the voice? Who is speaking? And to whom?

I got a submarine

You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk
about wars between nations
Not right now


Rather hard to miss that one. Because the world isn't sublime and pacific, obviously it's the fault of the Usual Suspects. The music is rocking, though - the riffs are cool and Bono's in fine form as Seductive Man (haven't really seen him since 1987), quite a change from MDG Man. They're definitely going off the reservation - at least the one they've built since 9-11. It does remind us of the Dylan classic that kicked off music videos long before Michael Nesmith hung up his monkey suit. Guess that last album was too good to be true - it lacked this sarcasm. Or perhaps self-righteous indignation is back in vogue now. Or maybe it never really went away. The question remains - who is the voice that's speaking? We have some ideas.

We do like the rocking tune, kinda catchy and you can dance to it. Seriously, it does remind us of Dylan's Angry Period in the mid-70s when he was smashing through cities in his Rolling Thunder Tour. He could be quite sarcastic, though far more scathing since he usually was aiming the visceral at himself. Which is actually why this period we're in now reminds us more and more of those days, especially after listening to some of the rather smug-like speeches yesterday at the Lincoln Memorial. It's like the 1970s all over again ("we're hot and they're not") - though to Obama's credit he seems to try to remain aloof from it all.

Approaching middle age, U2 gets ticked (again) - but in a far more sophisticated sort of way than in the past, even in the 1990s when they went out on the limb until it cracked. They aren't kids anymore, they have teenagers for kids, but they do need the hipster aura (which they had in plenty yesterday - Bono should keep that long black coat). This song drips with grown-up sophisticated sarcasm (which all great artists seem to need to cultivate at some point). We bet the music critics will call them courageous - and yes, a case could be made that they are, they are not remixing the same old idealistic stuff, though the lyrics still seem to betray the idea that the World is Good (cynicism is an ever-present guest when a premise is faulty). And there's nothing like ticking off half the fan-base to get that creative magic swirling again (while others may just like to stick their hands up in the air shouting "Let me in the sound" over and over again). Okay, let's let the sarcasm rest. As for ticking off the fan-base, that's a rock staple. Ask The Boss. Or Dylan, who's made a career of it.

Musically, the release is far more refined lyrically and stylistically - it's awesome - yet is not overproduced (amazing, what with the producers' credits on the album). This doesn't even seem like Stadium Rock either - which has been such a staple of U2's live productions. One could see them performing such a song in smaller, more accessible venues, which the current economy will demand. Smart.

Get On Your Boots is the first single from U2's new album No Line On The Horizon. The single will be released as a digital download on February 15th with a physical format to follow on February 16. The album will be released on March 3 (March 2 in the UK).

Produced by Brian Eno, Danny Lanois and Steve Lillywhite (the magic behind the U2 sound), the sessions for No Line On The Horizon began in Fez, Morocco, and then moved to the band's Dublin studio, New York's Platinum Sound Recording Studios, as well as London's Olympic Studios. That's a lot of moving around. What happened to just renting a big castle?

The album cover artwork is an image of the sea meeting the sky by Japanese artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. Very Zen.

The future needs a big kiss
Winds blows with a twist
Never seen a moon like this
Can you see it too?

Night is falling everywhere
Rockets at the fun fair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But he won’t scare you

Hey, sexy boots
Get on your boots, yeah

You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss ice cream
All our kids are screaming
But the ghosts aren’t real

Here’s where we gotta be
Love and community
Laughter is eternity
If joy is real

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know, and you don’t get it, do you?
You don’t know how beautiful you are

That’s someone’s stuff they’re blowing up
We’re into growing up
Women of the future
Hold the big revelations

I got a submarine
You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk about wars between nations

Not right now

Hey sexy boots...
Get on your boots, yeah
Not right now
Bossy boots

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know, and you don’t get it, do you?
You don’t know how beautiful you are

Hey sexy boots
I don’t want to talk about the wars between the nations
Sexy boots, yeah

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Meet me in the sound

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, now
God, I’m going down
I don’t wanna drown now
Meet me in the sound

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Meet me in the sound

Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey


U2 2009

Guess we'll have to see the whole album - maybe this song is just a character in a wider menagerie. That would prove interesting. In the meantime, think we'll go with this one instead. Not as much danger in succumbing to the collective, or its sarcasm.

2 comments:

Peter said...

Interesting comments, bb.

I hope they're not going to drink much from the hyper-smug kool-aid that's in the water these days.

That "Here's where we gotta be" bit has some promise for escaping it. But the rest of the lyrics? Hmm.

Chip said...

I think you're seriously missing it this time, Mary. The speaker is someone who doesn't know God and doesn't care about the world around him. It's "Discotheque" from another angle, as was "Vertigo" in some ways. In fact, the speaker this time is the anti-"Vertigo" -- he or she doesn't care about what's going on, while the speaker in "Vertigo" is preaching to the listener about the unseen world. Don't be so naive to assume Bono's giving his own POV in any song -- he doesn't in at least half of the songs.

As a side note, it's kind of fun (though not accurate, I'm sure) to think of this song as Bono's sarcastic slap back to John Mayer's whiny hit "Waiting on the World to Change" about how his generation would love to do something to save the world but just can't because it doesn't have the power. (Maybe Mayer himself was being ironic attacking that POV, but it didn't feel that way to me.)

I'm also not thrilled with the lyrics -- it's more of that halting, punchy, mostly what-you-see-on-the-surface-is-what-you-get style Bono developed beginning with All That You Can't Leave Behind. I'm hoping for more '90s-style poeticism. We'll see.

Ticking off the fan base? Not me at all. I'm happy that it sounds a wee bit experimental, though it regrettably sounds mostly like "Vertigo" part 2 to me.