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Old 04-18-2002, 05:29 PM   #1
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Exit & The Executioner's Song ...

Exit & The Executioner’s Song

The Joshua Tree. An album of beauty, complexity, and creativity. The historic U2 album that gave them 3 top ten singles in the good ol’ USA and world praise for their soul and for their heart. When “Where The Streets Have No Name” comes ringing in through the loud speakers in your car, room, or headphones – you are transported into a dusty hot world full of love, passion, and the blues. “With or Without You” comes with the night and takes you on to a bed of nails and asks you for everything when you have nothing left to give. Through and through, the album makes you smile, the album makes you cry, the album makes you sing that sleep can come like a drug, and the album makes you feel that blood cries from the ground. The album is electric. Enter the storm.
Peace only lasts so long in the human mind. The sun can only stain the eyes a few times. Joyful tears come and go just like the wind.
The song “Exit” is one of those that the public ear never really comes to hear. I will quote Niall Stokes here:
“Musically ‘Exit’ is like nothing U2 had ever done before. The antithesis of their bright ringing, optimistic inspirational selves, it was dirty, angry, loud, discordant, repetitive, noisy, black.”
The darkness had descended on songs before. In countless times there was amateur gray in Boy. “Tomorrow” and “October” iced the veins in the album of October. The Unforgettable Fire hosted “wire”, and all out attack on the joys of addiction. But never before had a song been cloaked in this sweaty, bloodlust, midnight kind of song.
It starts off in the distance. A man haunted by nightmares. A dog crying. A pistol. Thousands of images hammering through evoke a feeling of confusion, of distortion, of psychosis, of madness. All the while the bass thundering, the guitar ripping sheets stained with blood to threads, the drums pounding like the cold heartbeat of a man possessed. Bono used to say in the beginning of “Exit” on tour that this song was a story about “a religious man who became a very dangerous man.” This is where the answer lies.
Some say the song is about a man on the verge of taking his own life, some say the song is about a man on the verge of taking the life of someone else. Perhaps both. Out of the blood of this song there is fury born. It has been said that the ‘hands of love’ in the song are the hands of God or in fact just God.
I just thought I’d share some insight, hindsight, or just an opinion on this amazing song. It still sends chills up and down my spine and as I sit here and read Into The Heart by Niall Stokes – he refers to Norman Mailer’s novel The Executioner’s Song. Has anyone read this? I know what the book is about but I haven’t gotten the chance to read it yet (it is quite a lengthy piece of work). Please share your opinions on this song, on situations surrounding it, anything. I apologize for the length. I’m at home on a Thursday afternoon with nothing to do. Cheers.

~z~

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" You love this town - even if that doesn't ring true. You've been all over, and it's been all over you " - Bono

" Don't you know there ain't no Devil, that's just God when he's drunk " - Tom Waits
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Old 04-18-2002, 10:44 PM   #2
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It's a good song but I must admit sometimes I skip it.
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Old 04-19-2002, 12:28 AM   #3
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It's a good song, wish it was more loud, but I think the whole album needs to be remastered and the volume increased.

I liked the live versions better.

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Old 04-19-2002, 04:21 AM   #4
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Nice post Zooc, i looooooooooove Exit, its so dark and brooding and brilliant, and i love the jamming aspect of it- i think on the making of the JT one of them says that Exit came out of an extended jam session...as for Executioner's Song, i keep telling myself ill read it but then i keep forgetting
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Old 04-19-2002, 10:10 AM   #5
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I really love the song Exit, and listened to it for some time before hearing that the intention was apparently that the whole song maintain an evil/violent mood. (People don't talk about this song much, you know?)

This shocked me, since I had, just by instinct, heard something very different in the music/words. I'm not arguing that this is the "real" meaning but would be quite curious if anyone else heard it this way ever.

The impression I got was that the guy went out into the night intent on a violent act, but through some kind of mystical experience *changed his mind.* "he went deeper into black, deeper into white, saw the stars shine like nails in the night, felt the healing hands of love." I mean this is very mystical, positive language with a typical Bono crucifixion/light image.

And then there is the contrast: the pistol weighed heavy BUT his heart was beating, saying to him "oh my love, oh my love." I heard that as a decision that Love weighed more. (And then I know someone who knows a lot about British isles folk songs who heard this and -- I guess under the influence of the "nails" line? immediately said, "oh, that's a quote from a folk song about the crucifixion.")

And then there is this wild, glorious explosion of music, which reminds me of the end of Tomorrow, or UTEOTW, and which I took to represent his being completely invaded and overwhelmed by Love or God or whatever.

And...Then when I heard it live, Bono was singing "g-l-o-r-i-a, gloria" at the end of that wild explosion (as he does on R&H), and that seemed to me a complete confirmation of the idea that the end was meant as positive and ecstatic.

BUT apparently this isn't so at all.... I guess... tho I still can't make myself hear that music at the end as evil.

So... can anyone else relate?

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Old 04-19-2002, 11:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by mebythesea:
The impression I got was that the guy went out into the night intent on a violent act, but through some kind of mystical experience *changed his mind.* "he went deeper into black, deeper into white, saw the stars shine like nails in the night, felt the healing hands of love." I mean this is very mystical, positive language with a typical Bono crucifixion/light image.

And then there is the contrast: the pistol weighed heavy BUT his heart was beating, saying to him "oh my love, oh my love." I heard that as a decision that Love weighed more. (And then I know someone who knows a lot about British isles folk songs who heard this and -- I guess under the influence of the "nails" line? immediately said, "oh, that's a quote from a folk song about the crucifixion.")

And then there is this wild, glorious explosion of music, which reminds me of the end of Tomorrow, or UTEOTW, and which I took to represent his being completely invaded and overwhelmed by Love or God or whatever.

And...Then when I heard it live, Bono was singing "g-l-o-r-i-a, gloria" at the end of that wild explosion (as he does on R&H), and that seemed to me a complete confirmation of the idea that the end was meant as positive and ecstatic.

BUT apparently this isn't so at all.... I guess... tho I still can't make myself hear that music at the end as evil.
Cool interpretation...one I've never heard before. Definitely don't think that you're wrong. That's your interpretation and Niall Stokes has his, the only difference is that he got someone to publish his already. My least favorite thing about that book is that it claims to be the stories behind the songs, when they are usually filled with his assumptions and interpretations.
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Old 04-19-2002, 01:48 PM   #7
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I think Exit is absolutely fantastic, and am quite glad it was on the JT.
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