Written for a movie which I haven’t seen, so I can’t claim any knowledge of that. Supposedly about a pair of brothers, one who is a soldier in Afghanistan, and about one of them dying in the war, thinking back to his life as he does. I can’t say that I get that out of the song at all.
Boy, this is a dreary song. The music is based on an old hymn, which explains a lot, since it is turgid and boring and puts you to sleep. For this review I went to listen to the song a few times, and as it reached the end of the first time I realized I was long tuned out, that it was nothing more than background music to me. I’ve read a few reviews of the song that call it moving and sad, and I suppose it isn’t impossible to feel that way about it. But clearly from my perspective it’s not that at all, it’s just a song to skip over.
As I seem to do every day, a little talk about the religious aspects, which appear in every U2 song it seems. Now I’ve just told you that the song is based on a hymn, so that should be enough, right? But in this case I keep looking at the second verse, which begins “Once I knew there was a love divine,” and this to me is the subject saying they used to believe in God. The second line is “Then came a time I thought it knew me not,” which seems to be the common belief that you have reached a certain point where it is obvious to you that God no longer loves you or is interested in you. But then it goes “Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not,” which I struggle to try and unwrap. Too many forgives in that line, but you wouldn’t have an argument from me about the religious significance, especially when you couple it with the last line of the verse, “Only the lamb as white as snow.” The Lamb of God as they say, so bringing it together to point out the redemption part of the religious experience.
So having dug through that verse and pulled it apart, it’s interesting to take a look at the rest and see that it appears to be a lot more ordinary, talking about he and his brother driving, the land he is dying in, and then his life as a child. Goes back to the flashbacks of his life as he lays dying, but it’s most an unpoetic song, a little more narrative than usual. Yes, you can fit in the underlying themes if you want, but since this is such an uninteresting song, it’s really not worth it.
I confess I cheated on this one, because rather than letting the random number generator choose, I picked this song because it was supposed to snow here today. It did, but not much and it didn’t stick. It was as disappointing as the song.
My rating for White As Snow: 2 / 10