At some point you’re going to start thinking that I rate a lot of songs as average, or mediocre, and you’ll be right. When I started this process, I took all the songs off all the albums and listed them, and started ranking them. I quickly realized that I was building a surprisingly accurate bell curve, and I mildly adjusted some of the songs to fit the curve a little better. It wasn’t that big a deal, I pushed some songs down a little, some songs up a little, to end up with a few at each end and more in the middle. I really wanted to say that I valued the ones at the top much more. If I had taken those 150 or so songs and split them evenly across all ten rating points, I’d have about 15 songs rated 10, and I think that’s way too many. And I’d have that many rated 1, and that’s too many down there too. So I think the system worked out fairly well, with the exception that I end up having to write similar things about a bunch of similar songs.
Which is my way of saying that The First Time is a very average song in the U2 catalog. Something I specifically did not do is rank the songs within each rating, to end up with a range of songs in the 5s, from just barely above a 4 to just barely missing out on being a 6. I didn’t want to get that detailed in the ratings, because really it doesn’t matter that much. To be honest, there’s about 25 songs in the 5s that could theoretically have been a 6, and about 25 songs in the 6s that theoretically have been a 5. It just depended on my mood at the time, and some I happened to like a little better. In fact the only place I actually ranked was the 9s and the 10s, and even then the 9s have shifted around a little throughout the year.
The first time is low and slow throughout, never really takes off. I guess it does get a little more intense toward the end of the song, a little harder thumping on the piano keys you might say, but still not that much. As for the lyrics, I think he’s trying to tell a story, but what’s the extra meaning behind it? It starts with him talking about his lover, feeling love for the first time. Then it switches to his brother, and the help he gets, and again feeling loved. Finally his father, being rich, giving him the keys to the kingdom which he throws away as he leaves. It all seems very odd. I feel there is a religious aspect there, but I’m just not aware of what it is. Now that I think about it the music itself does feel kind of hymnal, doesn’t it? I don’t know my religion enough to be able to interpret this one.
Followed by Dirty Day and The Wanderer, thus ending Zooropa with a fairly slow and down kind of feeling. Not sure if that was intended or not.
My rating for The First Time: 5 / 10