I have talked regularly about the religious aspects of U2 songs, most (if not all) of the ones I’ve reviewed so far have had some religious connection. I couldn’t find any speculation about the point of this song, so I’m going to put out my own idea. I think that Levitate has the most sexual connotation of any song I’ve looked at so far, and perhaps of any U2 song ever. I can’t off the top of my head think of another one quite the same.
Now, I’ll repeat, I’m making this up as I go along. This is my impression and I could be totally wrong, but as I go through this song I read it as a the story of a sexual encounter. Without trying to get at all pornographic, the first verse starts with “ringing like a bell” and “in the mind to let go of control”, goes on to “deep down is not enough”. Then the song goes on to “can’t slow us down, can’t hesitate” and “a love that’s hard”. Of course the “to be the bee and the flower” is obvious. It repeats a few of these ideas, and then the, uhh, moment, is defined by the title, levitate. Repeated twice in the song, so it was a pretty good night.
Okay, now try and get that out of your head. Every time you’ll hear the song you’re going to think about this, aren’t you?
No, I don’t know that any of this is true. My interpretation is as good as anyone else’s, except maybe Bono’s, but I haven’t heard from him yet. It is possible to read religion into it as well, as with every U2 song, but the references to the spirit (“Spirit come on down”) are not very religious, and there’s not much more in there.
I often think of the line “Gravity not pulling me” when I think of this song, which is weird because the line is from Smile. I guess it’s because of the word gravity, compared to the song title Levitate.
The song is from the All That You Can’t Leave Behind sessions, and it shows. It fits right in with the musical theme of that album. Apart from Beautiful Day and Elevation, the rest of the album is slow and mellow, kind of relaxed. There are several songs that Levitate could replace on the album in terms of the music, but I don’t think it is better than any of them, which is why it doesn’t make the cut. That’s not to say the music is bad, just that it is too similar to others. There’s a short bit in the song around 1:42, right after Bono sings “not coming down”, just a few seconds of guitar that I think if you were to slow it down you’d be very close to the signature sound of Grace off the album. Is that possible, that it’s a fast version of a slow song, or vice versa? Obviously it is, because they do that all the time. Now that I think of that, I like it a little more, since Grace is one of my favorite U2 songs (oops, spoiler alert).
My rating for Levitate: 5 / 10