Once again we hit a song on the back side of The Joshua Tree, and once again I will tell you that if this song was on most other albums, it would be one of the best songs on that album. That’s just how good The Joshua Tree is.
Harmonica stands out on Trip Through Your Wires, of course. He plays it in several songs over the years, but somehow when I think of the harmonica it’s this song that I think of, probably because it is so upfront. I always liked the little pause in the music just before he sings the title, the whole band comes to a stopping point with the drums beating the stop and the time during the guitar pause, then they kick up again during the title words. I have one point of contention in the words, the words in the song are “I was cold and you clothed me honey” but I always thought he was singing “loved” instead of “clothed”. I guess clothed makes more sense, but loved could work just as well there couldn’t it?
There’s a video of U2 playing this song on tv in 1986, and it’s an early version of the song. The main lyric is “In this town, the tide is turning” compared to the now classic “In the distance, she saw me coming round”, and the point of the song appears to be different. It is just another example of how songs can change and grow as they become clearer to the band. From an initial set of lyrics to something where few of the words may be the same (although the title remains), but in this case much of the music is essentially the same.
The album version to me is kind of a love song, I say kind of because it doesn’t really come out with anything specific. I guess the title is somewhat pointing in that direction, but most of the rest of it could be anything. I actually have this idea of it being a companion or maybe a bookend to my idea of what Exit is. In my review of Exit I said that I thought it was a man battling through a storm in a field, trying to find shelter and God reaching down to protect him. I could see Trip Through Your Wires being a part two to Exit, where the man has survived the night in the storm, and now in the morning he is staggering about, working his way through the desert, and she sees him across the fields. She helps him, as an angel or a devil he doesn’t know, but she gives him the shelter and the water he needs. And at the end he sees the thunder on the mountain, which may be either a reflection back on the previous storm from Exit, or maybe a look at another oncoming storm.
And now I’ve written that all out, it keeps bouncing around in my head that this is the beginning of an idea for a movie of some kind. I’ll have to keep going through U2 songs with this idea in mind. I wonder how to get permission to use their music? Or how to shoot a movie?
My rating for Trip Through Your Wires: 6 / 10