(On September 25th 2016 we will celebrate 40 years to the day that U2 met in Larry Mullen’s kitchen for the very first time. In the 40 days leading up to U2@40 I will blog one of their spiritual songs...)
Vertigo was the first single off How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb in 2004 and as with many U2 albums at that time it was met with uncertainty. Since Desire led off Rattle and Hum, first singles off U2 records had tended to be slow to gain access to the ear. The Fly from Achtung Baby – my goodness me! Discotheque from Pop – are you kidding! Even Beautiful Day, that within a very short time became a stone cold classic, had a jury undecided for the first few weeks of its release.
Vertigo has stood the test of time. It is right there in the lead off section to the Innocence and Experience Tour in 2015. It is three minutes and ten seconds of full on rock out; a sonic explosion of spiritual shrapnel to lacerate the soul. Or rather to lacerate the soul of society.
On Vertigo Bono seems to be dizzy with the temptations and darkness and choices of the world he lives in. The mind is a jungle but mustn’t rule your heart and:
“Your eyes are wide
And though your soul
It can't be bought
your mind can wander.”
In the darker quieter shadow casting shift of pace and sound level, the devil gets his say and an inviting say it is too. Quoting what the devil said to Jesus on what the Gospel According to Matthew calls a very high mountain: -
“All this, all this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
All this, all of this can be yours
Just give me what I want
And no one gets hurt...”
In the end the lesson is learned...
“You're teaching me ...aaahhh
Your love is teaching me ...aaaah
How to kneel
These thoughts on Vertigo are taken from a blog I wrote the week of release. In the book U2 By U2, that came out in 2006, Bono described the song as being set in a nightclub and then adds :
“It's that woozy, sick feeling of realizing that here we are, drinking, eating, polluting, robbing ourselves to death. And in the middle of the club, there's this girl. She has crimson nails. I don't even know if she's beautiful, it doesn't matter but she has a cross around her neck, and the character in this stares at the cross just to steady himself.”
I don’t always… but this time I got it pretty much right! Vertigo is a vibrant gem of spiritual writing that collides with and then caresses the soul.
Steady yourself now!