My biggest memory of Stranger In A Strange Land was using it in a college paper, opening the paper with the quote “Stranger in a strange land, he looked at me like I was the one who should run.” It was a paper about American Indians, I don’t remember anything else about it, and I don’t remember what grade I got for it. I certainly can’t say it helped or hindered the outcome.
Reading the lyrics today makes me think of Northern Ireland, of British soldiers patrolling the streets of Belfast. Watching the locals for anything out of order, pretending to be friendly but all the while knowing the locals can’t stand them and want them dead. It doesn’t have to be Belfast, it could be Baghdad or any number of places round the world where there’s an occupying army trying to keep the peace. Actually a little googling suggests it might also refer to Berlin prior to the fall of the Wall, and talking about East German soldiers. Like I said, could apply anywhere.
Having gone back in time with the new shows in the Innocence + Experience tour, I am really getting the vibe that this song is giving off. There’s a whole sequence of Bono growing up in Dublin, and the Raised By Wolves and Sunday Bloody Sunday sequence, and Stranger In A Strange Land gives me that feeling again. Interesting, huh? I don’t think we’re going to see them perform this song, in fact they’ve never ever played it live (one time they played a snippet).
The song starts quick and loud, and you think it’s going to be this whole fast jumping thing, but then all of a sudden it slows right down. Talk about false advertising. Then we get about halfway through the song and that same intro plays again, but then we drift back down into the meander once more. We get drums, we get bass, we get guitar, but it’s all fairly standard fare from October. They show hints of having learned a lot about playing music, but it’s just kind of boring overall. You’re waiting for something interesting to happen, but it dies away into nothing at the end of the song, and it’s not very well missed.
One thing that I would take away from it is that the whole of the October album was about religion, as we’ve discussed before, but then we get to Stranger In A Strange Land and there’s no religious aspect in it whatsoever. In fact based on the content this song would seem to fit much better on War, which was based on exactly the same themes, the idea of strangers occupying your land and the conflict that follows. I wonder how it managed to get on October instead of War? Now, obviously War wasn’t done by the time October came out, but I could have seen them saying that it wasn’t a good fit for October, leaving it off, and resurrecting it for War. They’ve done that sort of thing before.
My rating for Stranger In A Strange Land: 3 / 10