Axver (axver) wrote,

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The unforgettable fire.

Well, it's the last day of my last school holidays ever. For once, I'm looking forward to returning to school because I can quite literally feel that the nightmare is nearly over. The light at the end of the tunnel beckons, and I'm close enough to be able to tell it's not a train coming to run me down. I dodged the train last term. It's amazing that I'm so close to completing high school, and it's a very refreshing thought. I actually feel reflective and contemplative ... I wonder if the last thirteen years have been worth it. I honestly do not feel they have been. A good deal of my skills and talents, I've learnt or taught myself outside of the school environment and it has done little but forced me into a box that makes me horrendously uncomfortable. Natural curiousity is a wonderful teacher, far better than the total bollocks of a curriculum that we have and the shambles that is the classroom environment. Even when you're in a class of people who are supposedly at the same level as you, it still falls to pieces because someone's always going to be ahead of someon else, there will always be the person holding up the class with questions, another person will be finished quickly and will fool around in a disruptive manner, and so on. I honestly do not feel it works, but considering the current state of play, it seems like there is no way around it.

Speaking of the current state of play, I am really tiring of the mainstream media. I barely watch the news any more so I feel horribly behind the times, but I'm not sure just how worth watching it actually is anyway. There's a lot of news made outside of 'the news', and I really don't like the idea of some programming executive deciding what I do and don't want to hear about, or deciding that I am Mister Normal Citizen and want to see some bland, inane 'news' about a traffic jam rather than serious footage of a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. That sort of thing actually makes me look forward to working in journalism because then I could see what ends up cut from the news and why. I'm afraid of what the reasons might be, though.

What worries me even more is that some people are quite happy to digest this 'news' marketed at them night after night, and they seriously think it is the most major news and there's nothing else happening in the world. I also suspect they don't even realise news is being marketed to them. I don't like the idea of news being marketed. It SHOULDN'T be marketed. News is meant to be informative, not entertaining; it's meant to be real, not exaggerated or sensationalised. Today's society has seriously distorted the idea of news and we're now fed what we're told we should be interested in, not what is actually happening. The media is amazingly powerful and a lot of people fail to realise that. A lot of people just soak it in without thinking. I am very cynical about the intelligence of the average person, though what scares me is that very often, my cynicism doesn't go quite far enough.

Hm. Sigh. It's sad.

On a totally different note, I realise that I have neglected to wish The Unforgettable Fire a happy twentieth birthday. I love this album and I really do feel it's the best album ever made. It does not show its age at all. A Sort Of Homecoming is a stunningly beautiful track, Pride remains an anthemic, rousing song, and Wire is still the scary song about heroin addiction that it always has been - "I give you hope/Here's the rope, here's the rope/Now ... swing away." That ending always gives me chills. The song The Unforgettable Fire is a masterpiece; it's one that can take a while to be appreciated, but when it dawns on you, it is just the most incredible song, full of musical landscapes and beauty. It's one of U2's classics where Edge does double duty on the guitar and piano. I'm still impressed with the job they did with this song - around the 3:05-15 mark, you really can feel the nuclear bombs exploding in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I'm hoping, considering the upcoming album title, that U2 bring The Unforgettable Fire back.

Track five is the subtle and beautiful Promenade. People often overlook this track, though I honestly do not know why. It's one of the most personal songs that the band have ever released, hence why it was never played live, and it's a wonderfully soft number full of atmosphere that was meticulously crafted. I feel it really does carry you up the spiral staircase, to the higher ground. The next track, 4th Of July, SHOULD NOT BE BASHED. THIS TRACK IS NOT FILLER, DAMNIT! There is NOTHING that could have possibly been better to follow Promenade. It perpetuates the atmosphere and links Promenade to Bad.

Bad! This song proves Edge's brilliance, especially the live performances. When compared to live performances, the studio version, incredible as it might be, seems to have something lacking. Edge plays some guitar that is technically very simple, but he shows his skill by what he turns it into. He shows why he is the master when it comes to the minimalist style. Edge doesn't play more than he has to or less than he should; he plays just what the song requires, and the beauty of Bad is found directly within its sheer simplicity. And none can play it like The Edge. He channels such sincere soul through his minimalism and I don't care what anyone says, he's made it an art.

Then there's three more tracks. Indian Summer Sky is a forgotten gem, a song that deserved more than nine live performances, and a track that hints at what was to come on The Joshua Tree - most likely without U2 even realising it! I can feel the seeds of the Streets intro in the beginning of this song, the soaring landscape it paints harks directly at some of what appeared on The Joshua Tree, and its general feel is very reminiscient of Bullet. In fact, the opening is kind of what I would expect if you merged the beginning of Streets and Bullet. Track nine is Elvis Presley And America, and THIS SONG IS NOT FILLER EITHER. Good freakin' Zooropa, this song is a GEM. The band recorded it in one take with Bono creating lyrics on the spot, and it still manages to be atmospheric and fantastic. It should not be criticised because it is a quality piece of work that I am glad was left unedited on the album. That song would have been wrecked and descended into the land of cheese if they had kept working on it. And finally, there is MLK. A soft, soothing lullaby to end a beautiful album that surely was "a musical journey."

Happy birthday, The Unforgettable Fire. You were U2's first comprehensive masterpiece and you don't seem twenty. May you some day be played in full, in order.
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