The last song on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, at least in some cases. It was apparently only included in the UK and Japan versions of the album. That’s kind of odd, since the song gives us the album title, from the lyric “They’re in the desert to dismantle an atomic bomb.” If the song wasn’t on the album, how would it give it the name? I read once that it came from Bono calling his dad Atomic Bob, because of his propensity to explode at his son. This would make sense as the album was being written around the time of Bono’s dad’s death.
Originally the song was called Xanax And Wine, and that version has also been released since then. They are almost the same song, pretty much just changes to some of the lyrics here and there. I don’t know why I prefer the Xanax And Wine version, but I do. I have found myself skipping over Fast Cars but listening to Xanax And Wine.
The song starts fast and stays fast, as it should, given that it’s called Fast Cars. I’ve never even attempted to play any of this song on the guitar, it is way too fast for my talent level. That actually applies to many U2 songs, the ones I do try and play are almost always either very slow (All I Want Is You) or very simple to play (I Will Follow).
I very much like the line “You should worry about the day, that the pain it goes away.” Not sure why but it certainly speaks to me. I guess the standard theory is that where there’s pain, there’s life (as Al Bundy once said), and if you give up on the pain then you give up on the problem. I think it is the same idea that you only fight if you care, and once you stop caring you stop fighting too. All themes that Bono and his dad would have dealt with through the years.
Now, regarding the song being on the album or not. I can see why it was left off the album - twice, if you count Xanax as well - because it is not a very good song (although not the worst song on Atomic Bomb, but you’ll have to wait to find out about that). Lyrically there isn’t much beyond what I already discussed. Musically it’s fairly standard, I can’t point to any great moments that stand out from that point of view either. So yeah, leave it off the album, let it be a B side on a single, or stick it in the box of tricks to work on at a later point, when it will somehow magically turn into a major hit. But no, instead they get it on some versions of the album. I can’t imagine why they would do that. Given that Bono tried at the last minute to stop the release of The Joshua Tree because he didn’t think it was good enough, why would he let an album drop that had different songs on it? Makes no sense to me.
My rating for Fast Cars: 2 / 10