I have been to New York once, spent about five days there a few years ago, when my sister was playing Carnegie Hall. I enjoyed the city, it wasn’t as scary as people say (except for the cab rides, holy cow that was a close your eyes and try and breathe experience). The subway was clean, didn’t smell like pee, didn’t have U2 playing in disguise (sadly). It was easy to take a cab anywhere, although we spent our entire time in Manhattan, except for the trip to the airport, a ride across the harbor to Staten Island, and the subway ride up to see Yankee Stadium (the old was being torn down and the new was about to open). I remember coming back home and saying that it was a city full of energy, and I’d love to live there. Not sure about that now though, it’s been a few years and maybe the memories have faded a little too much. Maybe I just like the idea of New York, not the reality.
New York is a slow and thoughtful song, for the most part, from All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Lots of cymbals at the start, in fact mostly Larry to begin, everyone joins in here and there, like I said slow. Bono adds on his voice, kind of quietly, not at all loud and in your face as you’d expect New York to be. The song is a little too literal for me, as I’ve said several times before Bono works at his best when he’s alluding to things, not describing them directly. The song explodes into action partway through, for a short period, before drifting back down into the quiet music. It speeds up again slowly, which is kind of interesting, then explodes again. Meanders back and forth between the two, then ends. Then does a really short and quiet bit where Bono sings New York, and it’s done. I don’t know why that bit is there.
I assume this is Bono’s love song to the city. Certainly feels like it. I know he has a place there, somewhere looking down on Central Park, where he has been known to ride a bicycle now and then. Well, then, anyway.
It is odd that he switches to a verse about the Titanic, although he keeps calling it New York. The Titanic was heading to New York of course, although his description is equating it with a relationship, and I haven’t heard that detailed an allusion in that way before. He says he hit an iceberg in his life, but I don’t know what he was referring to there. Also says “you lose your balance, lose your wife,” which clearly didn’t happen to him.
Perhaps my favorite part of the song is near the end, the “In the stillness of the evening” verse. I’m not really talking about the content here though, it’s just the sound, both the sound of the music and the sound of the words. It just sounds interesting, relaxing, peaceful. Not things I associate with New York.
My rating for New York: 4 / 10