Second song in three days off Songs Of Innocence, and I think this is now possibly my favorite song off the album. I say that now, although I would have to think about it a little, and I suspect that The Troubles might still hold that spot. I have moved a few songs a little since the tour began, as I am wont to do once I have seen a song performed live, which is of course the best way to see a U2 song.
I’m going to start at the end by asking if you’ve seen any of the Cedarwood Road videos from the Innocence + Experience tour. If you haven’t, well, don’t stop reading, but when you’ve finished you ought to go check them out on YouTube. With the whole storyline that U2 has put together for the show, this song for me has stood out as the most outstanding song of the entire show. It has become kind of the heart of the show, I think, certainly of the first half. It is in the middle of the switch from the early innocence into the death of Iris (another really good live song), and coming just before the Sunday/Wolves duo which is the tipping or maybe breaking point of things. I suspect this is very similar to Bono’s actual life (and perhaps the others, although this song is very specifically about Bono), the idea of Cedarwood Road being that home/resting point for his life before he took off for the world.
So as you can guess from reading that, if you didn’t know already, Cedarwood Road is the street that Bono grew up on. I also love that he has been introducing the band members and including the street they grew up on, or the area they’re from (sorry, my Dublin geography isn’t good, although much better than it used to be), like he would have done back in the day when they were a no-name band in the pubs of Dublin. And I love that he’s been using the line that begins “north side” to talk about the two sides of the GAs in the show. Wondering which side I’ll be on in just a few weeks.
The best thing about this song is that it is a return to a rock song in the grand U2 style, when I think about it I can hear bits of the early days of course, but also going through I hear something from almost everywhere, War, Joshua Tree, Achtung, there’s even some HTDAAB in there (reminders of COBL). It’s really a distillation of the U2 sound over the years, which is why it sounds so good now. I can’t say I loved it from the start - I never do - but I can say that U2 songs have to grow on me, and some eventually grow like redwoods.
And circling back to the tour, the videos of the song look fantastic, it is an extraordinarily impressive scene to show Bono walking on Cedarwood Road. Go watch it now if you didn’t already (and maybe go watch it even if you have).
My rating for Cedarwood Road: 8 / 10