“On the fifth day of May she was breaking away…”
One of those rarities that wasn’t released on an album, Flower Child came out on the Complete U2 after being left off All That You Can’t Leave Behind. It would have been a nice fit on that or any of the later albums, it is soft and slow, but somewhat bouncy. Maybe a little too acoustic, the drums don’t add much and the bass is almost non-existent. I should say they’re there, they just don’t add much. I could see Bono and Edge playing this song while Adam and Larry take a break. Of course it’s never been played live, and probably never will be, so that scenario is unlikely.
The song is 4:56 but for some reason I think it sounds a lot longer, I would have guessed at something like seven minutes long. There are four separate verses, each sound similar but it’s kind of like starting a new chapter every so often, with somewhat of a different phase to the music each time, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. I like the song enough that it could stand to be longer. Although in total it isn’t making as much sense as it possibly should.
So what’s it actually about? Not sure, really. I think it’s Bono talking about his daughter, at least that’s the obvious interpretation given the song title. The chorus says “The seeds that you sew, you want to watch them grow,” which may be another hint towards that theme. On the other hand, it may instead be about a relationship. Read through the first verse, “George was the street where you first faced defeat,” as in a relationship fight, which goes on to her being cold and you giving up and going drinking (“the Liffey dry”). And then later it talks about hurling at her door like a dog when she needed a man, as in you’re hanging around desperately waiting for her. These tend to be things you wouldn’t think about your kid (I hope), so maybe it is more this than the child thing.
There’s a reference to Holy Joe, who is presumably not the same one as in the song, although they were from a similar timeframe.
The boat heading north facing south, is it taking a trip north and south of the river? Just one of those little reminders that pop up now and then.
Ultimately I don’t know, I feel like I should like this song, like I want to like the song, but as I try and dig deeper into it, I’m not sure that there’s that much to it. It is kind of wishy washy in the lyrics, and I tend to prefer lyrics that have a point (wait, did I say the opposite somewhere else?). I guess I should say I enjoy it but I don’t seek it out. Or maybe I should say that I feel like it is on the verge of being a good song, but doesn’t quite make the step it needs to.
My rating for Flower Child: 4 / 10