Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

Achtung Baby was loaded with hits, songs that are still being played today and still as fresh as they were a quarter century ago. Among those hits was the song Ultraviolet, which came with the subtitle Light My Way, just in case you got confused about it and needed a little reminder. Actually that came from a song called Light My Way, which ended up being merged into Ultraviolet, creating the fusion of the two that works so well.

The song starts quietly, Bono singing slowly, but the noise quickly builds and explodes as drums crash and everybody kicks in. The song then takes off, it gets into a rhythm and doesn’t let go. It’s a moderately fast song, it has a great beat, the band works well together, the singer(s) sing perfectly. The song is one of the best songs on one of the best albums the band produced. I have a strong feeling we’ll be hearing from it again later in the year, when I pick my all-time top U2 songs.

Ultraviolet is obviously a light that cannot be seen by the human eye, meaning it feels like darkness, and the song does a great job of giving that feeling. The music is excellent, but has a very dark vibe going with it, the bass really pulls you down deep. And then once it gets going the lyrics pull you along in the same direction. The song is about love, or maybe about religion, or maybe both. But it’s not a light and bubbly song, it’s dark just like the title.

The opening verse, where I feel like I don’t know and I want to check out, that whole thing is a huge trigger for me. There are so many words in it, checking out, strong, and so on, I’m always singing that verse in my head. But then he’s singing to someone, wife I think although not necessarily Ali, but generic wife, and it’s a love song but again a dark one. The love like a secret that’s been passed around, that’s a really haunting line. Was she cheating on him, or did she just sleep with a bunch of guys before they married? And the silence that comes to a house, I have read that someone else wrote that line, proving once again how literary aware Bono is.

I love the “when I was all messed up I heard opera in my head,” which I read a long time ago was a reference to his father who loved opera music. Was he messed up because he was a teenager at the time, or was he messed up because he was listening to opera. And the love being a lightbulb hanging over his bed, couldn’t be any clearer a reference to what would eventually become part of the Songs Of Innocence tour.

The song possibly peaked live during 360, when Bono had the circle microphone, and the light-up jacket, and there were reflections and lasers everywhere. Bono swung from the microphone at times, I seem to remember cases where he would hold it and swing out over the crowd, although perhaps I am imagining that. But it was certainly spectacular, an amazing rendition that was even better seeing it live in the flesh. It is one of those songs where each time you see it you see something different in the performance, a song that has things going all over the place.

My rating for Ultraviolet (Light My Way): 9 / 10