Friday, December 30, 2011

U2 - "New Year's Day"

New Year's Day - War (Deluxe Edition) [Remastered]

(Debuted April 2, 1983, Peaked #53, 12 Weeks on the Chart)

I could have not timed this song more perfectly unless the actual New Year's Day didn't fall on a weekend this year. So, for my final entry of the year, I'll toss out this U2 song that is a lot more familiar to listeners than its #53 peak position would normally indicate. However, in its initial chart run, U2 wasn't nearly as well-known as they soon became.

A song that was ostensibly about the Polish Solidarity movement, which was subjected to a crackdown by the Communist government in December 1981. Interestingly, Bono began the song as a love song to his newlywed wife on their honeymoon and eventually reworked the lyrics. As part of the LP War, which also included "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "40" and "Seconds," it helped set the Irish band's notoriety as a group that wasn't afraid to take a political stance.

That said, the thing worth pointing out in "New Year's Day" isn't its message but a musical matter. It's one of those songs that shows how important the rhythm section (bass and drums) is to a song. In essence, the two instruments combine to form a driving force -- like the timing chain/belt in an engine -- to propel the song forward. There's other interesting elements of the song, like The Edge's dual use of the guitar and piano, a rather simple melody and that wail that Bono gives before he begins the words. However, the song's base is what allows all of that to happen.

"New Year's Day" also included the line "Under a blood red sky..." That would be the title of U2's concert LP, recorded as they supported the War album.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my all time favourite singles but even better than this version is the remix of the track by François Kevorkian. The track was remixed for the US market by Kevorkian in order to try and break U2 in the US through appealing to people on the dancefloor in clubs. Quite simply it is an absolutely brilliant remix and is better than the excellent original version. I don't know if this version was ever released as a commercial single in the US but it did appear as a bonus track on their "Two Hearts Beat As One" single in the UK, the follow up single to "New Year's Day", which is where I got to hear the song.

    Give it a listen, it's simply superb: