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Old 07-11-2000, 11:42 PM   #1
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Elvis Presley & America

So I'm going through this Unforgettable FIre revival at the moment, realizing I had almost forgotten one of my favorite songs, Elvis Presley & America. Problem is, I'm baffled by the lyrics. It's obviously about admiration and loss, but what's goin on in this song? America losing Elvis? Elvis losing America? Bono losing Elvis and America? Bono losing his Mom?

I don't get it. Anyone got some insights they'd like to share?
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Old 07-12-2000, 02:00 AM   #2
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Please, this question is too confusing for me. I JUST DON'T KNOW.
Probably more than one theme is featured in the lyrics. I mean it's about "Elvis ate America before America ate him" (hmmm, reminds me of another song I know) but I alway feel that when Bono tlaks about losing someone he is alway also talking about his mother.

(Reading over what I have just written I must apologise for not helping you one bit.)

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[This message has been edited by Salome (edited 07-11-2000).]
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Old 07-12-2000, 05:26 PM   #3
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I just don't know.

I've read that this was one of the most quickly recorded songs U2's ever released, that Eno and Lanois just recorded a jam session of the band.

That theory makes sense, given the ambiguous lyrics of the song compared to the equally baffling lyrics on the Axtung Beibi outtakes (see the U2 Lyrics Archive on this site). It may just be Bono improvising words that sound good and fit the music.

If that's true, this may be one of the clearest looks into Bono's subconscious and one of the hardest songs to possibly interpret.

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Old 07-15-2000, 11:07 AM   #4
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its a painting. like most everything on uf is. isnt it rainy? all watercolour and slidey. beautiful.
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Old 07-15-2000, 04:23 PM   #5
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hi all...

i haven't posted to this site before, but thought that maybe i could share some information about this song. i actually got into u2 back in '82, when the celebration single was released. i feel a little old here truth be told.... at least my hair isn't grey- yet! anyways, this song puzzled me too when it came out, but i remember that at the time i found an interview with bono where he talked about the recording of it. it may be hard to imagine now, but back in those days any press about the band was pretty scarce, at least in north america.

basically lanois and eno took a track that had been recorded but never completed and slowed it down. you can really tell if you give it another listen, that's what gives it that dreamy effect. bono just went in and improvised the whole song. as for what meaning there is in the lyrics, well, still i have no idea for sure. but i do remember him saying that the title really has nothing to do with words... neither elvis nor america.

i'm not sure if any of you have the album on a good old fashioned record, but if you do try playing the song at a faster speed. it's interesting to hear the track as it was originally recorded.

hope this helps a bit...
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Old 07-15-2000, 04:46 PM   #6
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I had actually raised this topic in an earlier post,but no one seemed to notice.I wanted to ask people how they found this song,since I am completely fascinated by it.The story behind this song is like this:

On one of the recording sessions to the Unforgettable Fire,Brian Eno played the slowed-down,reversed backing track to A Sort of Homecoming and told Bono to sing just whatever came into his mind.At that time,he was thinking about Elvis and his rise and fall,so they called the song that.Now what I feel about this song.THIS is why I love U2.Because they do things like this.I feel that most of what we are,what makes us is sub/unconscious,subverted.Though the lyrics do not seem to make sense consciously,they actually do deep inside.The song is simply a spontaneous expression of random thoughts and emotions.So amazing...whenever I hear this song I forget myself,where I am,the rest of the world....I feel so disconnected from reality.I really loved what captive said about it.Its like a beautiful abstract painting,so surreal and subjective.This song is my creative inspiration.It has some of the purest moments ever.Like when he says:

In your heaaaaaaaaaaart...
Hopelessly,so hopelessly,I'm
breaking through you and me

And

Dont you live
Dont you live inside of me
Dont you leave
Dont you leave out part of me...

Absolutely amazing.Its beyond words.That is why it seems to make no sense,it encompasses written language.It makes my mind float away...
I had raised this topic before,and got only 4 replies.Please this time,respond with your thoughts.
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Old 07-16-2000, 10:58 AM   #7
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if somebody has mentioned this earlier, i apologize. the reason for the lyrics being so mummbly (is that a word? LOL) is because bono lost his lyric book a week or so before they were set to record the song. bono was forced to make up lyrics for the song while they were recording it! everyone in the band was amazed that he was just coming up with these lines from out of nowhere. it shows how talented this man is. the thing about U2 is that their titles don't always reflect what the song is about. for instance, why is "bad" named "bad?" sometimes i think bono and the band do this on purpose to keep people off balnce. after all, if we figure all the lyrics out, then what else would there be to talk about? it's like bono said, wuoting sam sheppard. "right in the middle of a contradiction, that's where all the excitement is!"

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"I hear Bill Clinton was out seeking foreign policy advice from the rock group U2. You may not know this, but they try to call me every night at the white house...when it comes down to it, I'll be meeting with Boris Yeltsin and John Major. Bill Clinton can stick with boy george." -George Bush Sr. (beware, THERE IS A JR.!)

"We're an Irish band. WE come from Dublin City, Ireland. Like every city, it has it's good and it has it's Bad. This is a song called Bad." -Bono, right before U2 took over Live Aid
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Old 07-16-2000, 05:41 PM   #8
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Yeah, tomtom, sorry no one replied.

The idea of subconscious awareness is actually a very good one, particularly given this song. I reread Douglas Adams' book, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" yesterday, and it mentions how much we think on a subconscious level, how people who would have trouble doing 4x5x6 in their heads can easily -- subconsciously -- do the calculus it takes to catch a flying baseball.

The fact that a few U2 songs ("Elvis Presley & America," "Promenade", even perhaps "Zooropa") work so well on a subconscious level may explain why we enjoy them so much AND why we find such difficulty explaining why we enjoy them.

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Old 07-23-2000, 04:37 PM   #9
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Sorry I didn't see your post, tomtom. I just thought it was interesting because I knew the song was so mysterious sounding, that there had to be something behind it. It does sound like a backup track, although it's a complete song in itself. I like the analogy (i'm sorry, I can remember who wrote this) that the songs on UF are like watercolor paintings. That's EXACTLY it. Sort of a musical form of impressionism. BTW, I remember Bono saying "Bad" was named so because it was primarily about heroin addiction, and basically it encompassed all the "bad" aspects of urban Dublin at the time.
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Old 07-29-2000, 02:55 AM   #10
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A fascinating and mysterious song, that is. Now we know about HOW it was recorded, but one thing we'll never know for sure are the EXACT lyrics.
I must have some 4 or 5 different versions for the lyrics, and I'm sure none of them is entirely correct.

We shall remain curious.

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She's your destination...
There's no sleeping there,
She's imagination...
...Lemon.

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Old 07-29-2000, 03:09 AM   #11
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The "mystery" aspect of Elvis Presley & America makes it one of my favorite U2 songs.
While I'd like to say that I know what this song is about, I don't have a clue.
I can only tell you one thing. Everytime I listen to it, its raining outside or its about to rain.
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Old 07-29-2000, 03:53 AM   #12
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I have always regarded this with a great respect because it displays Bono's spontaneous talent. I've always considered it to be just a beautiful look into the thoughts of the man himself -- there's no order to this song, but then why would there be? Bono has a lot of thoughts coming from up there, and he had to organize them and condense them into a song on the spot! Now THAT'S a moment of pure inspiration. I remember reading somewhere that this song was said to have an "incomplete" feeling, therefore it went a bit unnoticed at the release of "The Unforgettable Fire". I think to appreciate this song you have to appreciate Bono and all he does.. because in essence this song IS Bono (well, you get the picture anyways)

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Old 07-29-2000, 10:50 AM   #13
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This is pretty much what everyone else has already said... I found a CD yesterday that I'd never heard of, it was an interview CD, with a booklet (120ish pages) containing the history of the band up to the release of Zooropa (incidentally, can anyone tell me when the first part of that interveiw was recorded? It sounds pre-Joshua Tree...). In the bit about UF, the book said about how Bono lost his note book (and passport and money), and said that Elvis Presley and America was basically a "stream of conscioussness"... can't remember what else it said, I read it last night at 5am.
In addidtion, I love the song, it does sounds like a dream, which is basically a stream of un(or sub-)conscioussness, and I think it sets the feeling perfectly for MLK... Those lyrics are among my favourites too, tomtom, although I was never sure exactly what some of them were 'till now. Thanks!


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Old 07-29-2000, 02:54 PM   #14
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I recently got that interview disc as well! I was wondering when and where this was recorded.. i didnt find it printed anywhere -- if anybody has a clue what we're talking about then info would be appreciated -- by the way I bought this and then got home to find I already owned that little book it came with haha; but my copy was torn up anyways..

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Old 09-21-2003, 11:47 PM   #15
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I have loved EP&A for a long time, as well as many of you have. It's the FEELING of the song, and not necessarily the meaning. The emotion behind it. I just love the way Bono intones certain words and phrases. It's very vulnerable and delicate, I think. Also, I agree with the "watercolor/impressionism" description of the song, and the whole album for that matter. When asked what my fave U2 album is, although it is a very difficult choice, I usually say UF. I love the tone of the album.

As for the lyrics, it's funny, b/c for a creative writing class I had in college, I had to do an exercise where I interpreted a song's lyrics. I turned in a cassette copy of EP&A, along with 2 different versions of the interpreted lyrics off the internet. It was amazing to see how differently 2 people interpreted the same song! Words like "white" and "black" were used for what should have been the same word! How do you get that much of a difference?

Anyway, it's an incredible song and I love it. Listening to it on headphones is great.

Blessings -
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Old 09-21-2003, 11:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by pearlriveru2fan
if somebody has mentioned this earlier, i apologize. the reason for the lyrics being so mummbly (is that a word? LOL) is because bono lost his lyric book a week or so before they were set to record the song. bono was forced to make up lyrics for the song while they were recording it! everyone in the band was amazed that he was just coming up with these lines from out of nowhere. it shows how talented this man is.
That'd impress me, too. I don't know how people can just come up with this stuff out of thin air. People who can improvise well...I have a great respect and admiration for.

Quote:
Originally posted by pearlriveru2fan
the thing about U2 is that their titles don't always reflect what the song is about. for instance, why is "bad" named "bad?" sometimes i think bono and the band do this on purpose to keep people off balnce.
You know, that'd be an interesting thing to discuss, too-people should start threads discussing their ideas of why U2's songs and albums have the titles that they do. I think that would make for some neat discussions.

Angela
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