Classic Track: Always * - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-09-2004, 12:37 PM   #1
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Classic Track: Always *

By Gregory Mc Guire

For this installment the classic album track isn’t an album track as such, but instead the lovely and underrated “Beautiful Day” B-side “Always.”

There are obvious comparisons between “Beautiful Day” and “Always” musically but less obvious ones lyrically. Most U2 fans know that the former was originally the latter, the band ultimately deciding to take a different direction with the song, hence the production of the Grammy-winning “Beautiful Day.” “Always” instead became a B-side. In the little-seen “French” version of the “Beautiful Day” video is a shot of a board in the band’s studio with provisional song names with “Beautiful Day (Always)” on the list. Shortly after the release of 2000’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album, Edge revealed in an interview that as a tribute to the original song in the last backing vocal of each verse of “Beautiful Day” he sings the word “always.”

From a musical standpoint, “Always” is a bass-driven song with Adam’s contribution being a strong bass intro and verse and chorus identical to “Beautiful Day.” Edge’s use of melodic high notes, for example during the intro, bare similarity to earlier works such as “With or Without You,” and at points sounds too tame to be a guitar. The guitarist also lends his hand at some faint but unmistakable vocal harmonies throughout. Larry, meanwhile, has seen his little pre-chorus drum-roll has become one of the song’s trademarks.

Bono’s lyrics for “Always” are full of inventive imagery in the theme of going into a new direction. He contemplates being both “the bee and the flower,” getting the best of both worlds, before “sweetness turns to sour,” before time finally catches up, perhaps an indication of the band’s maturity.

“Always” would definitely have fit on “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” sharing lyrical themes with several of the album’s tracks. The uplifting lyrical messages in the chorus “what we’ve lost, we don’t need” are echoed in songs like “Walk On” (“You’ve got to leave it behind”) and even “Beautiful Day” (“What you don’t have you don’t need it now”).

While faith and religion are a common theme in a large number of U2 songs, I believe “Always” is one of the best expressions of those themes. When Bono sings, “The soul needs beauty for a soul mate,” you believe him. Religion is explored more directly when Bono instructs those who are religious but perhaps too full of themselves and self-important to truly justify their faith to “Get down off your holy cloud” because “God will not deal with the proud.” Put simply this is sound advice directing one to work out what are indeed the most important things in life.

In addition to the religious themes brought up in many U2 songs, ideas that were first introduced in 1993’s “Zooropa” but left relatively untouched since (“Dream up the world you want to live in, dream out loud”), are re-explored in “Always” (“If you dream then dream out loud”), signifying anything being possible—even a gang of four lads from Dublin not just making it big but still being the pick of the bunch after 25 years.

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Old 02-10-2004, 06:53 AM   #2
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I this song!

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Old 02-11-2004, 03:36 AM   #3
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Yeah, me too

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Old 02-11-2004, 03:41 PM   #4
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I'll never forget how excited I was the first time I heard this song.
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Old 02-11-2004, 09:02 PM   #5
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Never heard of it
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Old 02-11-2004, 11:40 PM   #6
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Great song, thanks for the insight!
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Old 02-12-2004, 09:08 PM   #7
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Sounds too much like Beautiful Day(cos it was Beautiful Day originally) to be a great song.....but a decent B-Side and well worth listening too.
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Old 02-16-2004, 03:41 PM   #8
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It's fucking brilliant!
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Old 02-18-2004, 05:59 PM   #9
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"always" could be the best b-side for the boys
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Old 02-20-2004, 01:30 PM   #10
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I'll check it out!
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Old 03-08-2004, 06:09 AM   #11
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I'd forgotton about this song, (got it on the beautiful day single) but I recently got a bootleg with this and some other rare tracks on it and I realised how good this song actually is!

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Old 03-08-2004, 11:58 AM   #12
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I haven't heard this song. I will have to find it and check it out.
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Old 03-13-2004, 03:34 PM   #13
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I've loved this song since the first time I listened to it!

Get past the beautiful day comparisons!

This tune has deep, meaningful lyrics.
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Old 08-27-2005, 08:05 PM   #14
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This song is totally BEAUTIFUL, brilliant, awesome!!!!

Me too, I've loved it since the very first listen! That song captures a powerful energy...I totally crack up smilling after I've listen to it, whenever the time!!!!!

Love ya!!!
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:41 AM   #15
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Has anyone ever noticed that right after the line "Wait for me I'm running late" that the whole band chimes in and you can almost hear them laughing?
I take this as a reference to Bono always being late.
Am I the only one that gets that?

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