EXIT: SAW THE HANDS THAT BUILD, CAN ALSO PULL DOWN...EVEN THE HANDS OF LOVE - U2 Feedback

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Old 10-23-2001, 12:52 AM   #1
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EXIT: SAW THE HANDS THAT BUILD, CAN ALSO PULL DOWN...EVEN THE HANDS OF LOVE

Yesterday as I sat watching Rattle and Hum, I was again mystified at U2 performance of the song Exit, a song performed only on The Joshua Tree tour, and maybe for all intended purposes. U2’s performance of Exit for me is one of the highlights of Rattle and Hum, even though I, up until that point, had never been drawn to it when listening to it on the album, the concert performance of this song drew me in immediately with it’s raw, troubled intensity. I have heard many in this forum wonder why they never play this song, and every time I look at Rattle and Hum, the force and emotion that they play it in, and the story behind it’s inception, may give rise as to why they may no longer play this gem in concert.

I decided after listening to the song to investigate who the song was about. I had heard from interviews that the song was about Gary Gilmore, who was executed for killing two men in cold blood in Utah in 1976. The further I read about his life, the more intrigued I was that U2 chose to write a song about his life. U2 has been a band that has never ran away from dealing with issues that are sensitive in nature, and it is not my intention to justify in anyway the brutal homicides this man committed, but simply see the song for what it is as a U2 fan, who knows the history of U2 in their writing a spectrum of songs from lighthearted to troubling, perplexing issues.

My guess is that Bono wrote this song, not to glorify killing, but to try and understand the reasoning behind why Gilmore felt he was destined for death…why he felt that the moment he was born, he was born to exit from this life, to erase himself from existence.

I would not encourage you to read something that would bother anyone in this forum, but I am including a link to story about Gary Gilmore, and it will possibly help you to look at the song Exit in a different light, such as: “You used to stay awake to drive the dreams he had away”, “His head it felt heavy as he cut across the land. A dog started crying like a broken hearted man”, “He went deeper into black, deeper into white; could see the stars shining like nails in the night”, and “Saw the hands that build, can also pull down, even the hands of love”.

I have also included the song in its entirety in order to make references to other parts of the song that you may wish to comment on. I would conclude that Exit for me now makes more sense in its timing, especially hearing it on Rattle and Hum…Adam’s opening bass line which gives the impression of the heartbeat of a troubled and frenetic paced man, a heartbeat abnormal like the man in whose body Gary Gilmore housed, but with somewhat of an understanding when the totality of his life is examined…the Edge’s guitar hauntingly appearing as if the whisperings of the contents of Gilmore’s mind were being exposed…no words can speak for Bono’s presentation in song of the brutality of one’s actions, and yet almost hymn like in nature as the singer tries to come to grips with a life that was a dichotomy in that his life was that of a tortured boyhood, brought upon the viciousness of his parents, and yet know that he must pay for his crimes, to which Gilmore knew he must as well…Larry’s hypnotic drumming brings the beginning of the song to an unforgettable vision of troublesomeness and unsettledness…when the band kicks into a frantic pace, it is almost in conjunction with a man possessed in himself to kill for no reason total strangers…then Bono throws echoes “like a broken hearted man” into the wind, or like “his head felt heavy” from the weight of years of abuse and neglect…when the band brings the song to an almost hush, it is as if when Gilmore is caught and the beginning his end is at hand…the pace of the song picks up again like the period of Gilmore going through trail, people trying to fight what they feel is the unjustifiable action of capital punishment, Gilmore’s attempted suicide, and then finally the courts decision to allow his execution to proceed…the song ends with the song going off again in a frenzied velocity as if his execution is in motion, Gloria being sung as a last rites, the six men putting in five bullets into their guns, and one bullet a blank, so that each of them would be justified into thinking that maybe their gun was the one who didn’t provide the fatal blow…and then at the end of the song, Bono makes a gesture with his hands as if to signal the end of a life, a tortured life…Exit.

Gary Gilmore: Death Wish http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial10/gilmore/

You know he got the cure
You know he went astray
He used to stay awake
To drive the dreams he had away
He wanted to believe
In the hands of love

His head it felt heavy
As he cut across the land
A dog started crying
Like a broken hearted man
At the howling wind
At the howling wind

He went deeper into black
Deeper into white
Could see the stars shining
Like nails in the night
He felt the healing
Healing, healing
Healing hands of love
Like the stars shiny shiny
From above

Hand in the pocket
Finger on the steel
The pistol weighed heavy
His heart he could feel
Was beating, beating
Beating, beating oh my love
Oh my love, oh my love
Oh my love

My love

Saw the hands that build
Can also pull down
even the hands of love

Chris


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Old 10-23-2001, 12:55 AM   #2
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I love the song! and I will be sure to read that tomorrow, after I've gotten some sleep.

You don't have any plans of doing Please, Running To Stand Still, Bullet the Blue Sky, Stay, Walk to the Water or Bad in the next little bit do you?
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Old 10-23-2001, 01:02 AM   #3
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SkeeK...I will take those songs into consideration...tough challenge you put out there young man, lotta motion there young man...but I'll see what I can come up with.

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Old 10-23-2001, 01:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by spanisheyes:
Yesterday as I sat watching Rattle and Hum, I was again mystified at U2 performance of the song Exit, a song performed only on The Joshua Tree tour, and maybe for all intended purposes.

i believe they played it once or twice on the following tour.


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Old 10-23-2001, 02:07 AM   #5
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Wow I didn't know the song was about that. I've been writing papers and papers for school about capital punishment always referring back to Gilmore and now I find out that one of my fave songs is about him. Personally I watched the movie before I heard the song, so it's being a powerful song from the begining and one of my faves.

Something you might want check out it is the movie "Executioner's Song," it's a haunting movie made in 1982 about Gilmore's life played by Tommy Lee Jones, my fave actor (he fecking rocks, and let me tell I owe this man my U2 fanaticism, if it wasn't for his classic line in Blown Away "U who?" I would have never known the name of the band *bows down to Tommy*).

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Old 10-23-2001, 03:12 AM   #6
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ah ah I just noticed the film is mentioned in the article, my bad, lol but think of it as an extra incentive.

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Old 10-23-2001, 08:09 AM   #7
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I'll have to check out the movie "The Executioner's Song"...Tommie Lee Jones is such a convincing actor, also, I want to listen to Exit on The Joshua Tree and get a feel for it again, but my thinking is that U2 took the song to another emotional level on stage.

Chris
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Old 10-23-2001, 08:57 AM   #8
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I second Skeek's wishes...it's such a pleasure reading your thoughts about the songs Chris.
I wholeheartedly agree when you say that Exit was elevated to a new level played live.
btw, didn't you wake up too early this morning?
And I should be working...
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Old 10-23-2001, 09:41 AM   #9
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i don't know how good the movie is, Tommy Lee is definetely great, but Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song, the book the movie is based on(and of course they are all based on the true story) is excellent. a long read, I believe it topped a 1000 pages, but definetely worth it.

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