When people think about Rattle And Hum they usually think about the movie, and sometimes about the soundtrack, and mostly they focus on the fact that it was a live album. It’s sometimes forgotten that they had new studio songs on the album as well, in fact 9 out of 17, or just over half the songs on the album were studio songs. The fact that 5 out of 22 songs in the movie were studio songs (with some of them being demos, not the final version for the album) is probably what makes people think of it as live first and studio second.
This is a shame because there were some really good songs coming out of the studio tracks. The obvious classic is All I Want Is You, probably the best song on the entire album and movie, but there were others that were above average too. Today I talk about Love Rescue Me, which didn’t make the movie, and surprisingly doesn’t get much attention, especially since Bob Dylan was involved in the song and you’d think that alone would prompt some exposure for it.
Now, I’ve opined before that any time U2 uses the word love they really mean God, but this song is one of the best examples of that. Try singing it God Rescue Me and you’ll see what I mean (maybe Lord Rescue Me is a slightly more correct way of saying it). But I think the whole song is a prayer for help, a prayer for rescue from whatever is ailing the singer. I have at times thought that it was actually from the perspective of Jesus, mainly due to the second verse, which says many strangers have asked him for help. Not so sure about that interpretation though, there are other bits in the song (the scarlet of my lies) that defy that meaning.
But there are parts that lend themselves heavily to religious interpretation. Imagine that this is the death of a person, and reviewing their life. They’re standing at the pearly gates, “here without a name, in the palace of my shame,” reviewing all their sins before they can be admitted to heaven. They’ve already walked through the valley of the shadow. But then the end, where the music does blossom a little, they’ve conquered their past (revealed their sins), future is here at last (been admitted to heaven), standing at the entrance to a new world (looking into heaven), and the ruins will have lost sight of them (taken that step through into heaven, leaving the earthly world behind). That couldn’t be much more detailed in religion, could it?
Oddly enough, the other thing that comes to mind when I listen to this song is The Wanderer. It’s a post-apocalyptic theme, and I often think of the two songs as being sung by the same person. I’ve always thought of this being first, with The Wanderer second, the idea of being in a good place then destruction coming. Somehow though as I wrote this the idea came that of course The Wanderer is first, working your way through the destruction, meeting all kinds of people, then finally reaching your goal, heaven, or a release from the misery you have been passing through.
There is a really good live version of the song on U22, a little biased because it follows on from All I Want Is You, but great in its own right. Bono twists the words a little in this one, he says “I’m hanging by my thumbs, ready for whatever comes,” and I’ve always enjoyed that twist in the song, it sounds just perfectly in line with the rest of it.
My rating for Love Rescue Me: 6 / 10