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Old 12-03-2001, 10:50 AM   #1
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THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE

I love this song for it's complexities and atmospheric approach that takes you to another place. I always seem to be swept up by this song for the 5 minutes that I'm listening...transfixed by it's subtle beauty and mysteriousness. I also found an interview with the Edge on the song. Thoughts?

Chris

The Edge on "The Unforgettable Fire"
Propaganda, Issue 3, August 01, 1986

EDGE: 'The Unforgettable Fire" started off as a short piano piece, which was written when we were doing some very rough demos with Jimmy Destri from Blondie. (One was called "Be There" and another eventually became "Endless Deep," the B-side of "Two Hearts Beat As One.) Nothing really came of that, but during this period I wrote the piano piece, which just hung around being kicked about.

Eventually at the end of 1983, after U2 had been to Japan, myself and Bono were messing around with some material at his house. We had a drum machine, and I had got hold of a DX7 (synthesizer). We put in a few more chords and suddenly a whole new identity was emerging, which was really nothing to do with our original piece. We hit upon a new approach to the chord structure, and immediately had the feeling we were on to something good.

Adam and Larry came round and pushed it on another ten steps, and we knew we had something, but there was still no guitar part, as I was playing the DX7, and Bono had about two dozen melody possibilities to sing over it.

When it was recorded, the basic track went down first, the drums, bass and keyboards, and we had a structure worked out. The melodic structure was coming, but it was all so intricate and complicated that it was almost ridiculous. So Bono did a guide vocal, which sounded great, and we started throwing out some of the clutter.

Then came the problems of the guitar. I just couldn't get anything. What I ended up doing, out of sheer frustration, was just de-tuning all the strings and re-tuning them to what felt like good notes by ear. I started playing harmonics over the track, so all the guitar is atmospheric -- none of it really has any form. There's just that textural quality of guitar, without it having any structure whatsoever.

On the record, it was a track that needed a real "performance" mix, and Danny (Lanois) and Eno did a great job. We got to a point where it sounded so good it seemed a shame to eliminate any more of the complexity and variations, so we left it as it was. At one point, towards the end of the recording, it seemed like we would have been better advised to be very harsh, and do some savage editing, but now, 18 months or two years on, I'm delighted that we decided not to.

The funny thing is that despite its complexity, "Unforgettable Fire" is a very strong dance track -- it's our best dance track -- it's just got one of those beats. Maybe it's because it was originally composed on a drum machine, therefore it was "Idiot Edge" trying to get this thing working. I set up the simplest backbeat imaginable, so when it came for Larry to play on top, he was very limited in what he could change. The basic backbeat was already set up, and though he improved it immediately, it was so simple to begin with, that the simplicity was maintained, and I think that's what makes the best dance music anyway.

Propaganda, 1986. All rights reserved.


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"That's what's happening to U2 on tour in the United States at the moment - we're just a conduit for all this joy and hope and despair and it's all coming out - People say, 'Oh, Rock and Roll is great - just takes people's minds off of it' - No. That is not our job. Our job is to take people's minds through it." --Bono's take on the Elevation Tour since 9/11
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Old 12-03-2001, 10:54 AM   #2
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VERY interesting article-thanks for posting that.

I love to read what Edge has to say-he is just so articulate-and, as usual, charmingly self-deprecating('idiot Edge'-aw).

I never thought of that as a 'dance track' before-but, sure, why not?

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If you are really good friends with The Edge, you can just call him The~ Adam

The right side of my brain is kinda redundant~ Larry
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Old 12-03-2001, 12:13 PM   #3
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Yeah...I never saw it as a dance track before as well. Also, I like the fact that the Edge says that they tried to maintain a simplistic approach to the song, but I can't help feeling still that the song has so many different complexities about it...there in lies the beauty of U2's music.

Chris

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"That's what's happening to U2 on tour in the United States at the moment - we're just a conduit for all this joy and hope and despair and it's all coming out - People say, 'Oh, Rock and Roll is great - just takes people's minds off of it' - No. That is not our job. Our job is to take people's minds through it." --Bono's take on the Elevation Tour since 9/11
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Old 12-03-2001, 07:10 PM   #4
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This is my all time fave U2 song- thanks so much for posting that article
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Old 12-03-2001, 10:26 PM   #5
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I love, love, love the song but I'm not sure I can see it at all as a dance track. However, maybe what he means is that the pulse of the drums is extremely powerful in that song, which I would agree with. I wouldn't think it would be easy to dance to (at least not in any traditional way!) but the drumming just pulls me right in. It has to be one of my favourite of Larry's parts ever.


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One day we'd reach the great ocean
At the end of a pale afternoon
And we'd lay down our heads just like we were sleeping
And be towed by the drag of the moon


-Sting
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Old 12-04-2001, 02:37 AM   #6
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Walk on by, Walk on through, Walk 'til you run, and don't look back, for here I am.

Chris

------------------
"That's what's happening to U2 on tour in the United States at the moment - we're just a conduit for all this joy and hope and despair and it's all coming out - People say, 'Oh, Rock and Roll is great - just takes people's minds off of it' - No. That is not our job. Our job is to take people's minds through it." --Bono's take on the Elevation Tour since 9/11
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Old 12-04-2001, 01:25 PM   #7
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Cool, UF is definitely one of my faves, I dunno, maybe it does have something to do with it being a bit like a dance track, never thought of that either.

But IMO it is one of the most atmospheric tracks I have ever heard, its so chilling, love it, and the goosebumps it gives me
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