Bono said that he wrote each song on No Line On The Horizon from a different character’s point of view. For Cedars Of Lebanon he chose a war correspondent, and you clearly see that come through in the song. The song is extremely wordy, like the correspondent is trying to write a novel, or something similarly erudite to make his name. I mean, most of it works, but ultimately there are few lyrics that really stick with you. And the music is deathly dull, this is definitely a soporific kind of song. So much so that I tend to not listen to it too much, it kind of depresses me for the most part.
The music is kind of simple, single notes slowly repeated at the start, a little bit of here and there as it goes. I’m not sure I can even identify the different instruments. When Bono starts singing it picks up a little, but mostly that’s just due to the appearance of the drums, giving it some kind of beat that helps. I guess it’s true in this case that it’s all about drums, right Larry? But for most of the song, it’s the same old music here and there. I think if you were to play a section of the song without lyrics, you would probably struggle to identify which section of the song it came from, it’s just so samey from start to finish.
There are bits and pieces here and there that do grab the attention. There’s some kind of local person chanting now and then, and by local I guess I mean Moroccan since that’s where the song was recorded. The one thing I would say about this song, that is a little bit of a bonus, is that you need to listen in stereo, because there are parts in one ear that aren’t in the other. Many songs I only listen with one ear plugged in (because I’m often listening to someone or something else while I listen to the song), and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. In fact I listen with both earbuds in, then pull one out and nothing seems different. This song, yeah, noticeable difference. It’s also one to definitely listen to with earbuds, rather than over speakers or in the car for example. The kind of song that makes you realize that you can do different things with sound that make people pay attention.
And so to the lyrics, which aren’t that good. There are parts which are really forced, like when Bono tries to rhyme cigarette and minaret. Overall it does tell the story he intended, and if you hear it you can get that feeling of being there in some ways, or at least to know what he’s talking about. His lines “the worst of us are a long drawn out confession, the best of us are geniuses of compression,” this is a really good description of correspondents and writers in any field. The last verse is the best, with “choose your enemies because they will define you” being the standout line of the song. This is one of those truisms that everybody can understand.
My rating for Cedars Of Lebanon: 3 / 10