It is difficult to do a review of “The Black Cat” for several reasons. First, it’s an odd little song. Second, it always seems to pair with Into The Heart. And third, it’s just not very good.
Okay, so why is it odd? Apart from the name, arguably it is never-ending. On Boy, An Cat Dubh rolls into Into The Heart without a stop or pause, and without a break even in the music. A little googling shows that even the record company didn’t know where it ended, because they put different time stamps on different versions of the album, and then again when released on CD it breaks in different places. So, is this one long song, or two medium length songs, or one fairly long and one fairly short? Depends on which version you’re looking at, I guess.
As to the pairing with Into The Heart, I struggled to decide whether to do a single page for both of them, or a page each. And if I did a page each, what would the Into The Heart page say? Maybe it’ll be just a link back to this page. I guess I’ll have to figure that out when the time comes. But reading about these two songs it seems that they were both played together almost all the time whenever they were played live, which suggests that U2 thinks of them either as one song, or as two halves. I don’t know the answer to that. What might answer that would be hearing Into The Heart played by itself without the lead-in from An Cat Dubh. Can it play by itself? Or does it get a lead-in from some other song. If it played by itself we might be able to tell where it begins.
Finally, about it not being very good. It is interesting musically, kind of ethereal I guess you’d say, maybe a little hippy or mystical, not sure what word to use. Drifting, maybe. I think it’s one of those ones where for their debut album they just let things go and see where they get to. Kind of like the ten minutes of music that a band like Phish would just play, not necessarily knowing where they are at any point in time, but knowing that sooner or later they’ll get to the place they’re going.
Personally I don’t much like that kind of music, a whole bunch of random playing of instruments and not much else. There are lyrics to this song, but they don’t really matter, do they? Bono says it’s about sex, then says it’s about a dead bird and a cat playing with it. Either he’s way over my head, or he’s into some odd fetishes. Either way, it’s not something I think about much, because this is one of those songs that I generally will skip over unless I’m really into the mood. And possibly the best thing about An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart is that once you skip over them, you get to Out Of Control.
My rating for An Cat Dubh: 3 / 10