When deciding what order to review in, I first chose a number of songs that were date-specific and slotted them in. The easy example of this is the first review, New Year’s Day. There are about a dozen of those, which leaves a lot of songs and a lot of days. For the rest, I put them in album order, then got a random number generator to choose which to do when. To my great surprise, having started with New Years’ Day, the randomly chosen next song is Like A Song, which happens to be the next song on the War album after New Year’s Day. What are the odds of that? (One in a hundred and forty-five, to be exact).
I said yesterday that War brought us some hugely successful songs, but also some duds that make little impact today. Like A Song is one of the duds. Prior to writing this review, I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to it. Not on my regular playlist, it only makes an appearance when I listen to the whole album, and honestly that’s probably only a couple of times a year these days.
If you’re a U2 aficionado, you can listen to this and hear a few things standing out. Bono’s voice is obviously the young version, not as rough (mature?) as it is these days, and he also sounds a lot more earnest than he does now. Like A Song features lots of drums, this is possibly the most drum-heavy U2 song ever (it’s all about the drums, right Larry?). There are others that feature drums prominently (most of the October album in fact), and others where the drum stands out for a certain part of the song (like the beginning of Breathe, or Love and Peace), but in Like A Song the drums seem to dominate everything, including the lyrics. I once read that U2 turns up the sound on the mic so that you can hear the lyrics better, in this case I think they turned up the wrong mic and got too much drum.
On the other hand, the bass in this song is so understated it almost disappears. You can hear it in the background for most of it, but it doesn’t have an impact. Lead guitar is quiet too, there are places it stands up and is heard (around 2:15 just after Bono sings “Let the bells ring out” you really do hear Edge’s guitar ringing for the next 30 seconds or so), but again it’s mostly playing second fiddle to the drums. As for the end of the song, the last about 1:15 is just drums with some guitar in the background, it seems like a lot of filler really.
Odd that Like A Song has only ever been played live once. Why? What other U2 album song has been played live that little? Or not at all? I don’t know, I’ll have to research that. I remember reading that The Unforgettable Fire wasn’t played live for a long time because it was difficult to play, but it’s got over 250 live plays (and a big gap from the Joshua Tree tour until 360). So why not Like A Song? Maybe the answer is that it was so drummy that the others didn’t want to play it?
You can probably tell I don’t like this song much. The lyrics are those of a protest song, but it tries too hard for that. It’s almost like they set out to write a protest song and threw everything in they could. Along with half-hearted guitar and too much drums, it’s a song I’ll listen to when it comes on, but not intentionally seek out.
My rating for Like A Song: 3 / 10