Night Music: U2, “Out of Control”

I liked the first U2 album, in large part because of this song, which feels like it is going to spin out of control, but it never does, all the while rueing the day that control was lost.

This live version doubles down on that conflict, and maybe signifies why this rock band has always come across as more in control than ecstatic. I love the way Mr. Vox yanks his sweater out of the public’s hands, and uses that as a way to wade gently back into the fray topless.

10 thoughts on “Night Music: U2, “Out of Control”

  1. I love this album. There is/was also a dreamy melancholy to a lot of U2 songs (don’t think that many are in minor keys, though). Also, i learned as much about how to sing listening carefully to Bono as anyone, as well as how to turn a simple song into an anthem.

    A great band, whether anyone likes it or not.

  2. Not.

    I swear, Bono has the most mediocre range and voice of just about any lead singer I can think of. Covering a U2 song vocally must be about the easiest musical task there is.

    Try singing Noddy Holder sometime if you want a taste of true vocal greatness.

    Bono’s is the dry toast of rock ‘n’ roll voices.

  3. Gad Steve, that is as crazy a statement as Mike saying Charlie Watts wasn’t that much of a drummer. And, I am not knocking Noddy, though I know I can nail “I Don’t Know Why.”

    I just think you despise U2 so much you have not given Bono his due.

    And, I am not saying he is the best vocalist or singer by a long shot. I like Dylan and Elvis Costello and Steve Earle and Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell (knew I would throw her in) and Prince way better. But, Bono uses his breath and dramatizes in a way that taught me more than I could pick up from the other guys listed above.

  4. Never high on my list but give ’em credit for their instantly recognizable guitar sound, which has content as well as form. The rhythm section pumps too. I would never rag a singer for a 7-note range, many of my faves have less. I would rag U2 for pomposity but that came later. Only the seeds are visible here. One thing is clear right from the start: U2 is rock, not rocknroll.

  5. One of my favorite parts of my favorite rock doc “It Might Get Loud” is when The Edge (does it get any more pompous that that?) shows what his guitar sound is made of. He has this, I swear, small roomful of gadgets and pedals, then he turns off all the gadgets and pedals little by little to reveal he’s really pretty much plinking along on one note.

    I’m thinking, “and you’re proud to show us that?”

    Talk about Emperor’s New Clothes. . .

    (Don’t you just wanna yank off his ever-present beanie and give him a big red nuggie on his bald spot?)

  6. Jimmy Page can’t sing either, but that has nothing to do with his playing. Turning knobs isn’t a substitute for guitar playing.

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