Thursday, March 17, 2011

En Passant

The melody and the chords were worked up in a November 1983 War Tour sound check in Hawaii and completed in Windmill Lane Studios during The Unforgettable Fire recording sessions.[1][2] The guitar part is subtly varied through each verse, chorus, and melody, such that no riff is exactly repeated.[2]

The song had been intended to be about Ronald Reagan's pride in America's military power but after the lyricist Bono had been influenced by Stephen B. Oates's book Let The Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a biography of Malcolm X. these caused him to ponder the different sides of the civil rights campaigns, the violent and the non-violent.[1] In subsequent years, Bono has expressed his dissatisfaction with the lyrics, which he describes, along with another Unforgettable Fire song "Bad", as being "left as simple sketches". He says he was swayed by The Edge and producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who played down the need to develop the lyrics as they thought their impressionistic nature would give added forcefulness to the song's feeling, particularly when heard by non-English speakers.[3]

"I looked at how glorious that song was and thought: 'What the fuck is that all about?' It's just a load of vowel sounds ganging up on a great man. It is emotionally very articulate - if you didn't speak English."
—Bono , U2 by U2[4]

Somehow, I don't think the author of

Rah rah ah ah ah
Roma roma ma
Gaga ooh la la
Want your bad romance

has that level of introspection.