Friday, January 1, 2010

U2: New Year's Day

Happy New Year and with a new year, change is coming to Reading between the Grooves. Typically on Fridays, I have been using the theme "Fun Fridays"; however, this is being suspended as I am having great difficulty finding "fun" songs that fit the general feel of this site. There has been a dearth of material.

It's Now or Never

With next Friday being the 75th anniversary of Elvis’ birth, I feel obligated to feature some Elvis music on January 8. Beginning January 15, I’ll be initiating a new Friday theme called "Friday Firsts." Every Friday, I’ll spotlight an original version of a song that later became a hit by someone else. This category will not include hit songs that were remade and became cover hits. Therefore, "Friday Firsts" will only feature non-hit original versions of songs.

For example, Nilsson had a colossal hit with “Without You”; however, the song was written by Pete Ham and originally recorded by Badfinger. Paul Young’s hit, “Every Time You Go Away” was written and released several years earlier by Hall & Oates. Everyone remembers Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”; however, the general public is probably unaware that this was a Fleetwood Mac song that was penned by Peter Green. These are the types of tunes you can expect to hear featured. Additionally, I’ll also provide the hit versions for comparison sake. I'll feature the predecessors (yes, I meant plural here) of an early Rolling Stones' hit as our inaugural "Friday Firsts'" showcase.

And oh what heights we'll hit; on with the show, this is it

Since it is “New Year’s Day,” I am featuring the song of the same name by Irish rockers U2.  It was U2’s first hit single outside of their native Ireland. Appearing on their third album “War,” “New Year’s Day” started as a love song dedicated to lead singer Bono’s wife. Consider the lyrics: “And I want to be with you, be with you night and day.”

The song was modified to show support towards Lech Wałęsa’s Solidarity movement in Poland. The accompanying video was shot in sub-freezing temperatures in Sweden. Because of the cold temperatures, the band was unable to do the equestrian scenes– so four teenage girls were enlisted to dress as the band.

By hiding their identity with masks, they were able to be filmed as substitutes for the horseback scenes. The cold temperatures and Bono’s unwillingness to wear a hat also caused him some difficulty when mouthing the lyrics. If Bono's mother is anything like my mother, she would be saying to him, "Now Pauly (his real name is Paul), the next time you'll listen to your mother and wear a cussed hat."

Four horsepeople (is that the politically correct term?)

It hasn’t been stated anywhere that I have found that the four horsemen (or women in this case) represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If so, they only got one color right – the black horse. The best I can tell is that one horse is brown, one is black, and the remaining two could be either color. According to Revelation 6, the black horse represents famine, but one would think that if the horses were to represent war (i.e., the album's title), there would have been at least one red horse – which is definitely a horse of a different color.

Today’s version is the 12 inch single mix that was released in the US and was produced by French born DJ, François Kevorkian. I guess we are fortunate that François Kevorkian mixed this version and not Jack Kevorkian. Now, if Jack had produced the video, he would have chosen four pale horses. Now, you may think that I don’t know Jack, and personally I don’t – but I did know his sixth victim – and I guess that puts me within two degrees of separation from Dr. Death. Now, isn’t that a pleasant New Year’s Day thought? Happy New Year, and watch out for the Pale Rider in the coming year - despite what Blue Öyster Cult says.


All is quiet on New Year's Day.
A world in white gets underway,
And I want to be with you –
Be with you night and day.
Nothing changes on New Year's Day

I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.

Under a blood-red sky,
A crowd has gathered in black and white.

Arms entwined, the chosen few,
The newspapers say, say, say it's true
And we can break through,
Though torn in two, we can be one.

I will begin again, I will begin again.
Oh and maybe the time is right;
Oh maybe tonight

I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.

And so we are told this is the golden age,
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage.
Though I want to be with you –
Be with you night and day.
Nothing changes on New Year's Day.