I believe Kite was dedicated to Edge’s daughter at one point, whether on the album or in subsequent concerts, because she was going through medical issues at the time. Maybe due to the theme of the song, which is family for the most part. The other idea that came out of it was of Bono sitting in a park flying kites (hence the name) with his kids, and having thoughts about that.
It is a really nice song, fits in well with the rest of the album (All That You Can’t Leave Behind). Relatively slow and relaxing, fairly simple music that is easy to follow along with. Enjoyable song to listen to, without concentrating too much on the theme.
So the theme is family, as I said, but it’s a little more complicated than that. It is perhaps the idea of letting someone go, not so much in a life and death way, or even in a romantic way, but rather in the way of having helped them grow up, and letting them spread their wings, leave the nest as it were, and head out into the world. I have seen this action up close recently in my family, with nephews and nieces heading off to college and their parents having the reactions that the song sings about (or rather, the reaction that they don’t want to let go). Haven’t had it yet for my own son, who is only ten, but the day is coming. In fact, now that I think about it, he’s actually closer to going to college than he is to having been born, something which seems amazing to me since it seems like just yesterday he was born. Crazy the way we think of dates like that.
“I don’t know which way the wind will blow” is the theme of the song, meaning I don’t know what will happen in the future, but “I know that this is not goodbye,” that we will always be together in some way. And the line “I wonder what’s gonna happen to you” is one of the most poignant lines Bono has sung. You can just imagine him sitting on a hillside watching his kids playing with a kite, and think up that line. Or standing over the child while he sleeps, thinking the same thing.
There is a live version, was on the back of the Window In The Skies CD (well, not the back, but you know what I mean), it was recorded in Australia, and they add in a didgeridoo, which sounds really good in context. I do like the way that add in that bit of local flavor into shows, I’m not talking about mentioning the city name that you’re playing in, but rather bringing in a local musician, like they have done in South Africa, or even in Rattle And Hum.
Anyway, I liked that live version, and as with so many live versions before, it is easily my favorite version. What is it about live versions that sound so much better than the album versions, at least for U2? I can’t think of a single album version of any song that I prefer to the live.
My rating for Kite: 7 / 10