Five Great U2 Songs Even the Band Has Probably Forgotten About

Categories: Lists, Playbill

Well, now you've seen the set list from Monday's U2 Dallas show, and it's pretty short on both pre-Joshua Tree songs and surprises in general. This will be Rocks Off's eighth U2 show since 1992, and we can't remember ever having seen the band do "The Unforgettable Fire" live, but besides the No Line on the Horizon stuff, everything else we have.

So instead of cuing up "One" - which we fully expect to be played at our funeral - or "Where the Streets Have No Name" for the 16 millionth time, we combed U2's back catalog for a few songs the band might want to take a second look at the next time they're slotting those diehard-fan cuts into their set list. Although we're perfectly happy with "Unforgettable Fire" and "Until the End of the World." This time.

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"So Cruel" (Achtung Baby, 1991):
Even on a record steeped in pain and heartbreak - Edge's first marriage broke up during recording, Bono's nearly did and "hats" Bono and Edge were constantly at odds with "haircuts" Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. over whether to introduce club rhythms and "Madchester" loops into the band's sound - "So Cruel" aches even more than "One" or "Love Is Blindness."

If you ever want to hear the sound of a heart breaking, the three-note opening piano figure and Larry's pitter-pat drumbeat come pretty close, while Bono's bone-cutting lyrics ("You don't know if it's fear or desire/ Danger the drug that takes you higher") sum up the exhilarating uncertainty we've all had to face in our love lives from time to time - if you've ever thought you needed someone "like a drug," this song is for you.

"Wild Honey" (All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000): A complete 180 from "So Cruel," "Wild Honey" is almost giddy. Bono going on about being a "monkey swinging from the trees" elicits a chuckle or two, but Edge's lightning-quick acoustic lead floats like a butterfly and stings like a (honey) bee, while the swells of B-3 organ at the bridge justify Bono's oft-repeated slogan for All That You Can't Leave Behind, "the goal is soul." Mission accomplished - like the best soul music, there's real hurt under all that happiness.

"Exit" (The Joshua Tree, 1987): Bono has said he doesn't like to play this song - told from the point of view of someone moments away from suicide ("A hand in the pocket/ Fingering the steel") - live because it creeps him out. Shame, because the crescendo at the end is U2 at their fiercest and heaviest. Rage, rage against the dying of the light...

"God Part II" (Rattle and Hum, 1988): Pound for pound the most underrated - and, lyrically, the best-written - song on Rattle and Hum. Adam Clayton's bass throbs like a wound, and Edge's Larry-abetted riff could be written up in Guns & Ammo. Bono, meanwhile, progresses from indicting notorious John Lennon biographer Albert Goldman ("his type like a curse") to confronting his own hypocrisy ("Don't believe in forced entry, don't believe in rape/ But every time she passes by, wild thoughts escape") to axioms about truth and rock and roll ("We glorify the past when the future dries up") that neither U2's fans or detractors were ready for in 1988, and probably still aren't today.

"Spanish Eyes" (B-side, Joshua Tree sessions, 1986-87): Rocks Off almost didn't include this because it's a B-side, but it's also the last word on one of his favorite subjects: his wife Ali Hewson's bewitching brown eyes. After Edge's swirly introduction, "Spanish Eyes" kicks into gear with one of Larry's cymbal crashes and doesn't let up until the end. And like all of Bono's love songs, it's a little masochistic: "I love the way you talk to me, and I love the way you walk on me/ And I need you more than you need me."

Honorable Mention: "Crumbs from Your Table" (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004); "Seconds" (War, 1983); "Stay (Faraway, So Close)" (Zooropa, 1993); "A Sort of Homecoming" (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984); "Electrical Storm" (The Best of 1990-2000, 2002)

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