California is supposed to bring out the idea of the Beach Boys, who were somehow a band that U2 looked up to as they were growing up. I’m not too sure about that, because I see the Beach Boys as being one of those manufactured pop groups from those days, like the Monkees, and like all the music today. Although I’m not sure about that either, for all I know about the Beach Boys they could have been anything they want. I’m not a fan of bands that don’t write their own music, it just makes them trained performers on a stage. In the Beach Boys case I guess it’s their music, which now sounds kind of bland and, well, beachy. Like a lot of the stuff that went into the musicals in the 60s, the kind of stuff that Elvis would do (don’t tell Larry I said that). Just not my kind of thing, and to me since U2 sound so different, it surprises me that they like it.
I really don’t like the Santa Barbaras at the start. I don’t know what it is about them, it’s almost like a nail on a chalkboard feeling to me. No, I shouldn’t say it’s that bad. Maybe that it’s the start of a song I don’t really like much, so it puts me into a mood. But I do then hear the line “Out of Zuma, Watching you cry like a baby” which is my favorite line in the whole song.
There is a kind of hiss in the background, starts at about 1.30 and goes for maybe 15 seconds or so. It repeats a couple more times during the song, which tells me it’s probably not an error. Whatever it is, it is really annoying, when I’m listening in the car and that part of the song comes on it always freaks me out, makes me look around to see what’s happening where. Not as bad as some songs (both U2 and not) that have a sound like a siren, that makes me panic and look for the cop chasing me.
The song is kind of bouncy, catchy, whatever. That’s part of the bubblegum sound that I dislike, I think. Not that I don’t like bouncy or catchy songs, U2 has plenty of those, it’s just the way it bounces that gives that kind of sound that I don’t like. I don’t know what it is, the particular tempo, the way it bounces, the chords that are being played. Just that sound. Maybe it’s a California kind of sound, hippy, surf, and I don’t like it because I don’t know it. I’ve never lived in California, I don’t remember spending more than one night there in my life, so I just don’t get it. For all I know the folks in California are loving this song and wishing all the other U2 songs sounded like it.
I do love the dropping guitar at about 3.00, running the hand down the fretboard is a sound that I enjoy. I’ve tried playing that sound many times - not for this song in particular, but just the sound in general - and it always gives me a thrill when I manage to get it right. Which doesn’t happen too often.
My rating for California (There Is No End To Love): 3 / 10