Bullet The Blue Sky is one of those deeply political songs, which U2 have a number of, not nearly as many as they have religious but still, lots. This one talks about Central America and the intervention of the United States, something which, if the US people were to know and understand the true details of, they would be ashamed to know what their government did on their behalf. Well, I say that, but frankly that’s not true. After all, the government tortured people on our behalf, and when those details were leaks there were just as many people saying that they should torture more as there were saying it should stop. Religious people, too. Remember that, next time you’re listening to a so-called religious leader in the United States, ask yourself which side of torture they have professed to be on.
Bullet starts with a howl of guitar (actually it starts with drums, but then the guitar), and it forms a howling wind. You hear Bono’s voice being what, not quite angry, but harsh. The drums rip through the sky, the bass pounds back and forth. In the middle a guy comes up to Bono and you can hear the contempt in his voice. He gets into a mild stream of consciousness at that point, telling a story as he goes, and it’s compelling to listen to. If you know the history of the song, that he was there seeing and experiencing what the people of Nicaragua were going through, you get how authentic it really is.
I’ve heard of the tales that they did or didn’t want to finish with saying outside it’s America, because they weren’t quite sure if they were going to be insulting the US market. Kind of ridiculous that, because the US market is usually too obtuse to understand when they’re being insulted and when they’re not. Witness the use of Born In The USA as a song used in political campaigns, when it is anything but what a politician should use, since it’s an attack on the stated values of the United States. Note I say stated, not actual values, because they’re two separate things, as I note in the first paragraph above.
Bullet The Blue Sky is another of those really good songs on The Joshua Tree that get a little buried because of the rest of the album. It is perfectly placed within the album, it forms a fantastic pairing with Running To Stand Still, but like I’ve said on other Joshua Tree songs, even the lowest rated songs would be top two or three on most of their other albums.
The song does of course give us the title for Rattle And Hum, and it appears live there, and I think I shall do a second review of the song from that album. Not sure why, maybe because it is a separate release, but maybe because I feel I have more things to say that I haven’t quite gotten around to thinking about yet.
My rating for Bullet The Blue Sky: 7 / 10