The Cry is difficult to review, because a) it’s not an official song, but sort of a snippet, b) it’s only used as part of Electric Co., so may not even exist in it’s own right, and c) is only about 30 seconds long. But I’ll do it anyway, even though it’s kind of cheating to call it a song.
The Cry does occasionally get credit by itself, which makes it a little different to other things that U2 sing as part of songs. One of the best examples of that would be the Shine Like Stars coda to With Or Without You, which is occasionally sung but mostly considered just like an additional verse, not a separate song that gets a credit. Cry gets credit most notably in Under A Blood Red Sky, which establishes its credibility.
The issue is of course that it’s really short. When they play it live, from the opening note to the start of Electric Co. is usually between 30 and 40 seconds, although it could go longer depending on how soon Bono will jump in with his lines. Obviously not a radio song or a releasable song, and hardly even reviewable. It is so intricately linked with Electric Co. that for the longest time I thought it was part of the song, although I never seemed to make the connection between the album version and the live version to realize that it was an extra part in front. Even if I had I think I might have assumed they just added something there.
Another issue is that the lyrics are so variable. Reportedly there are as many as 30 different variations of the lyrics. There are usually four lines, each of which repeats the words being used three times (“somebody cry, somebody cry, somebody cry”) with four syllables in each phrase, with an ending line that is not repeated and contains eight syllables. That pattern makes it easy to switch the words when you want to. Also makes it a little rap-like, where you can take a set of words and twist them any way you want and still not be wrong. There have been many instances where people have reported that Bono forgot the words, or sang them in the wrong order, in a song. I’ve mentioned I like those kinds of twists, makes it seem more interesting when you listen live. In this case he can make up anything he wants on the spot, and it can never be “wrong” as the fans might think.
I think the standard lyrics (or at least most used lyrics) are along the lines of this (note, only one of each row written, make sure to repeat three times): “Somebody cry, Somebody try (something quick), Don’t you look back, Somebody cry, Well I can’t see why or what for.” Helps if you know the music to be able to read that correctly. Here’s a different version: “I used to cry, When I was a boy, Can’t shut me up, Now I know why, ‘Cause I can’t stop try get back there”. You see he does use five syllables at one point, but it doesn’t alter the pattern at all. You also see how easy it is to vary them. I don’t know if there is a site anywhere that has listed all the variations, but I’d be interested in seeing it.
Can’t give it very high marks for the simple reason that it’s not long enough or distinct enough, but included as part of Electric Co. it is really good.
My rating for The Cry: 4 / 10