No Line On The Horizon ends up being one of the better songs on the eponymous album. It is an album that I don’t think is much loved by U2 fans - certainly not by non-U2 fans - and I find myself in a minority. The song itself is smooth, somewhat relaxing but with moments in it of excitement. To kick off the album it’s perfect, it kind of reflects the album as a whole, that last sentence could describe the album to a T.
The lyrics are interesting, I really don’t know what they are about. They seem to be a slight mish-mash, it’s the chorus that I end up liking the most, but the music itself is the most interesting thing on this song. Given the images on the album, I’m trying to imagine the ocean, but I don’t know. The separation between sea and sky? Or the non-separation as the case may be. The verse that begins with “Every night I have the same dream” is my favorite part, although I’m not sure again about the traffic cop line. Or the tongue in the ear.
I also dislike the first few seconds, don’t know what the noise is there and I don’t know if I like it. Listen to it live on From The Ground Up and that disappears, Edge instead playing some quick guitar which does sound much better. I think I tend to prefer songs that both start and end clearly. Been listening to some of the fade out songs that U2 have, and most of them I wish there was a definitive stop point. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. You know, like 40.
So having said all that, what is it about this song that has me rate it so highly? Clearly the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this case. I really feel the bass and drums working well in this song, maybe that’s what makes it. They just seem to come up and down at the right points within the song, not that they don’t usually but it is really quite clear here. Most U2 songs are led by Edge’s guitar, but occasionally they let the rhythm section take over and dominate a song. When they do it ends up sounding like this, not quite perfect but certainly very good.
One of these days I ought to take a look at the length of song titles and see how they match to the song’s rating. A while ago I had that theory about the album titles, that the longer the title the better the album, but that was in the day when they didn’t have any album titles longer than three words. Don’t think I continued that idea after they started putting in album titles that were so long you needed to come up with an acronym for them. So does that still hold up now? And how about the songs? A quick look at my ratings list does show both long and short at the top and the bottom, so maybe it doesn’t work.
My rating for No Line On The Horizon (song): 7 / 10