I don’t know anything about Frank Sinatra. I mean, I know the name, I’ve heard of the Rat Pack, the whole gangster thing, sure. And yeah, there’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that Frank and Bono recorded together. But could I name any of his other songs? No, not without googling. Well, maybe - is that “New York, New York” song by him? If it is, then that’s the sum total of my knowledge. Oh, and he has a daughter, Nancy, who also sings (“boots are made for walking”, which now I think about it, was that a Frank song first?).
So it came to me as a surprise when I was checking out Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad to discover that this was not a Sinatra song, but was an original song by U2. I swear I have always thought that U2 covered this song. Weird, huh? So even though I have no idea what Sinatra sings, the sound and the atmosphere of the song just remind me of him. I guess that’s some powerful music right there, that makes you place it so specifically into a particular theme or style. Good job Bono.
For whatever reason, when I listen to this song I’m also transported back in time to old black and white movies. I’m thinking of Humphrey Bogart right now, the Casablanca sort of thing. I don’t think Sinatra had any involvement in that, I vaguely think he did movies but I don’t think it was as long ago as Casablanca. But that’s the impression I get. The sound, the lyrics, make it feel like you’re sitting in one of those old bars in the black and white era, sitting alone or maybe with someone else. No, alone it is, and there’s a girl dancing up on the stage and you’re singing the song to or about her. A failed romance, I think. But then the ending kind of gives some little hope, doesn’t it? A feeling that at the end of the song - or the end of the night, or their lives - that she’s come back to him, the compromise, and everything might end up okay. That they’ve taken the two steps forward and one step back, and eventually they get to where they’re going. Is that plausible? Can we always end up in that happy place, no matter what?
It’s one of the few songs that is just Bono and Edge, with no Larry and Adam involved. There are others, and they’re almost always like this, something slow, something acoustic, so you don’t get the drive of the drums and bass. In general I’m not a big fan of those songs, I guess there are some I like, but overall even in a live show I’m not so happy when Larry and Adam leave the stage while the others perform by themselves. It just feels like there’s something missing. And even with the whole orchestra behind them, it doesn’t really fill in for them either.
My rating for Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad: 3 / 10