Miss Sarajevo is a wonderful song, but like so many U2 songs it only grabbed my attention once I heard it live, and even then not even the version with Pavarotti, but rather the one with Bono singing that part and putting all his emotion into it. It was that emotion that pulled at me, dragged it from an average or a little above average song into the heights I have it at now. Happens all the time, I know, so I have to ask myself why that is. What is it about U2 live that is so much better than them recorded? I wish I had an answer to that.
Miss Sarajevo all depends on the version you listen to. The original, from the Passengers album, seems much more arty, much more operatic, much more orchestral than the other versions. Of course you’re going to say operatic makes sense because that’s one of the points of the song, but really it does in this case because there are additional sounds on the song that make it sound big, sound loud like it is being played in a theater with that full orchestra, the whole warm, wooden opera hall sound. The addition of Pavarotti on the soundtrack is just a bonus that pushes it over the edge, if his part wasn’t there, I don’t think it would sound any less operatic.
Then there’s the version that is on the Best of 1990-2000, and even though that is essentially the Passengers version cut down (about a minute is removed), I don’t like it as much. I don’t know what it is, it just seems like a little has been lost in it, it doesn’t sound the same all the way through, like they muted the stuff in the background or something.
The next version I have was on the All Because Of You single, a live version from Milan. This is probably the version I like the most, the one I listen to the most. I like that he says he wants to turn the song into a prayer, because it often sounds like it is, but then again many U2 songs do. It is this one that has the emotion bleeding through so much, “is there a time for different colors, different names you find so hard to spell,” words that I think of often, something so desperately needed in these times. Just compassion, the feeling for others, wanting to lift all boats. Then Bono sings the operatic part, which I remember seeing live a few years ago, and I remember that blowing away my wife, she was amazed that he could do that. I am too, don’t get me wrong, it is an incredible moment.
The fourth version I have is from From The Ground Up, another live version. This one is essentially the same as the Milan version, I think, I’m not sure what the differences are. Obviously a different show, but the theme was essentially the same and the music essentially the same so that I don’t listen to this one as much. Not that it’s bad, just that I’m used to the previous one and why change for small differences.
My rating for Miss Sarajevo: 8 / 10