Sunday, January 22, 2012

Song #96 of 9999 - I Will Follow by U2

Song #96 of 9999

Title: I Will Follow
Artist: U2
Year: 1980
Album: Boy

Bands that stick around for thirty or more years rarely manage to sustain the interest of their fans, let alone the general public. Typically, they find themselves wanting to try new things and find their fans aren't willing to come along for the ride or they keep doing the same thing over and over with diminishing results. Styles also change and bands who become quite successful in one genre often have to decide whether to test the waters in another or stick to what they know and hope they become fashionable again.

U2 falls more into the latter category, I suppose, although they have taken certain risks throughout their careers (Pop comes to mind, Rattle and Hum was certainly a departure, although not for the better to my ears). Listening back to their first single, "I Will Follow," one can recognize the basic U2 sound of today even if the 21st-century version lacks some of the spunk of the four Irish lads in this very white video. 

Say what you want about The Edge as a guitarist, there is no question that he created a very unique sound and approach to the instrument, one that was perhaps as startling as Eddie Van Halen's or Chuck Berry's. His minimalistic approach works well with Adam Clayton's contained but active bass lines and the high-range frequencies of Larry Mullen Jr.'s cymbal-and-snare drumming. The band is very adept at creating and maintaining space in their sound that I find attractive. In this song, the glockenspiel added by Steve Lillywhite (sounds like crotales to me actually) adds a clang that I appreciate.

And then there's Bono. This video makes him look ridiculous, but in 1980, most of us looked ridiculous. He is probably the number one reason U2-haters hate, but on the other hand, he is so charismatic that it's not hard to understand why he has legions of followers. If nothing else, he seems to serve as the soul of a band who's sound is severely lacking in that area (which is fine by me—again, Rattle and Hum = blech).

See you tomorrow in 1990.


  1. I debate your assessment of "Rattle and Hum", Frankie. Granted, their version of "Helter Skelter" is misguided and some of the other little flourishes in the record are pointless, but for me this is the band's last hurrah. Tracks like "Van Diemen's land", "Desire", "When Love Comes to Town" and "All I Want Is You" are the band's very best, I believe. The reason I'm more of a "hater", as you call it, is because the music and their image after "Rattle and Hum" have been unbearably pompous and just generally crap in comparison to the highlights of their 80s period.

    ...oh, and the fact that Bono is a prat. But that's got nothing to do with the music, of course!

  2. Well, you're not alone obviously. Lots of people love the album. I just don't think it's what they do best. I don't want to hear them play the blues, for example. I'm sure it was a hoot for them to play with BB King but I'd prefer to hear them do something that makes more sense for them. Also, I think Bono's voice was tour-ravaged at that point and it's some of his worst singing. His voice on The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree is really something special and, on Rattle and Hum, I wanted to offer him a lozenge.

    By the way, who are you? I enjoyed your comment about Split Enz as well.

  3. I'm a former member of the Songfight community, formerly known as "Jippers", and also I'm a fan of Frankie Big Face. "Air Traffic" and "Locked Box" are both killer tunes, man.