The idea of the parenthesis seems to have grown over the years. It seems to me that there are far more books with parenthetical titles these days than there used to be. Musically it also seems to have become de rigeur for a band to use a parenthesis to expelling their songs a little further. In U2’s case, they mostly use it to take a more common lyric and make it the subtitle.
The following is a list of U2 album songs that use parentheses:
With A Shout (Jerusalem)
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Four songs in thirty-some years. And then we get to Songs Of Innocence, and we add to the list:
The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
California (There Is No End To Love)
Iris (Hold Me Close)
Three songs, in the first five songs on the album. Does this mean anything? But anyway, you can look through this list and see that in most of them the part in parentheses is the part that is most commonly sung on the song, the part that if you were to sing it to me my mind would instantly go to that song. I think the two exceptions to this rule might be The Miracle and Iris, both off the new album.
I’m not a big fan of The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone). I don’t know any of the Ramones songs. Bono has said that the point of this song is that U2 snuck into a Ramones concert, and somehow they figured out that their ideas weren’t odd and that they could turn to rock and roll as a real thing they could work at. In other words the Ramones acted as a big inspiration to them. I’ve actually heard this about the Ramones from other bands too, some of whom I like, yet I haven’t gone back and listened to any of their music.
The thing about this song is that it kicks off the album at a good speed, so people are more inclined to listen further. I can tell you that in the first few days after the release of the album I had the thought that this was the best song, but that feeling has since been tempered quite a bit, and the song has been overtaken by others. I like the music, I like the lyrics, they’re just no longer the best. One of the other things is that the album was designed to sound like it had been written in the early 80s, and this song is one of the better exemplifications of that. Not only does it sound decent, it also sounds like it could have been one of the songs released on Boy or October and not sounded too far out of place. Ehh, maybe not October, maybe War.
Note that above I listed only songs off albums. There are numerous songs that use parentheses that never appeared on an album. Not necessarily too many for me to list, but I’m not going to.
Isn’t parentheses an odd word?
My rating for The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone): 5 / 10