Song 2 – Raise me up, and don’t let me fall

Love Rescue Me – U2

Apparently, at one point in time, there was a meeting of musical demi-gods Bono and Bob Dylan. The story goes (and there are a few variations of this theme, so take it how you will), that the night before the meeting Bono dreamt the lyrics of a song that felt familiar to him, but that he couldn’t place. When he woke up he jotted down as many of the lyrics as he could remember. He convinced himself that it was a Dylan song, and so asked him when he eventually met with him – Dylan confirmed it wasn’t. At that point Bono showed Dylan the lyrics and they collaborated to finish the song.

And so Love Rescue Me was born.

It was 1992. I was still mucking about with my horse the majority of the time, but a boy had started riding where I took lessons and for some reason (even given my debilitating shyness) he took a shine to me. Angus was Trouble. My dad hated him, his mother despaired about him, and the police kept close eye on him. For a 16 year old girl it was all terribly exciting. He used to leave his house at stupid hours of the night and walk all the way to my house (from Kooringal, which in hindsight was no mean feat) to give me mix tapes he’d made or copies of albums he owned. One of the albums he copied me was Rattle and Hum.

Mum had had it on vinyl for a while and (as was the case with a lot of her music – I mean, Jethro Tull!?!?) I’d never really paid attention. It suddenly became a lot more interesting when it was on a (probably TEAC) ex-blank tape, handwritten-on by a boy who made my stomach belly flop. The first time I listened to the album right through I listened so hard. Was there a message in there for me? At the time the only message I really wanted was from the last track on the album (der) and my love-addled 16 year old brain was happy with that little delusion.

I was remarking to someone not that long ago that all my older albums, the ones I’ve been listening to for many, many years, are still in A and B sides in my head. Love Rescue Me is track 2 side B. It’s really a track 2 kinda song, too, just like Angel of Harlem is a track 1 kinda song. My head just does not get around the idea of it being track 11 – it is an EPIC song, really, and track 11 just is not the right place for it.

Track 2, Side B, okay?

The song starts out with simple, finger picked acoustic guitar, accompanied by sorrowful, drawn out harmonica. By the time the bass comes in you’re drawn into the reflective melancholy that permeates the lyrics throughout the song. Being as lyrically driven as I am, it’s the words in the song that have me now. Initially, though, the reason I played it on repeat was the sound. That lilting, bittersweet sound that climaxed eventually into a cacophony of brass and guitar and drums. Also, this sound has more than a little bit of country to it – the whole alt-country thing is a clearly a deep-rooted passion of mine that I’ve been denying and suppressing with my typical smalltowngirlthatescaped cynicism. I’m working on that.

While the verses softly swing and lilt, the chorus, in both the brass and Bono’s vocal, are like a desperate crying out. The song gradually escalates so that he’s shouting the lyric over and over again in that way only Bono can manage. Loooove, I said love, rescue me….

(baaaaaaaaah dah bah dah baaaah)
(baaaaaaaaah dah bah dah baaaah)
OH MY LOVE@(*#&*^!!!!!!!!

In the palaaaaaace of my, shaaame
I said love…
(baaaaaaaaah baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah)

Umm, yeah. You get the picture.

The lyrics are profoundly personal – the narrator is clearly at a crossroads and is looking for some kind of salvation. Any faith he had in religion is long gone. The desperation in his voice, particularly when it reaches the climax before the end, is palpable. The imagery throughout the song is so stark and menacing – I picture desert and dark skies and burning buildings and hollow eyes.

The tortured soul finds some amount of reprieve though.

I’ve conquered my past
The future is here at last
I stand at the entrance to a new world I can see
The ruins to the right of me
Will soon have lost sight of me
Love, rescue me

It finishes quietly, with some resignation, but not without hope. It’s the gutted exhaustion you feel after you’ve been to hell and back and realized, once you’ve hit the other side, that you still have all your extremities.

I know this song so well now that I can sing along to every wail and scream. I can also throw my arms and legs around in perfect time to the drums, to when the brass comes in, and to when Bono hits the high notes. I know this song as well as I know myself.

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3 Replies to “Song 2 – Raise me up, and don’t let me fall

  1. Thanks! 🙂

    In my head the music and the personal are so interlinked. That’s sorta why I wanted to write about these songs – they’ve all been such a big part of my life in a lot of different ways.

  2. music and the personal are very interlinked, without music i as well as many other people can say we more than likely wouldnt be here. and its amazing how hearing a song can take you somewhere from years ago, albeit happy or sad every song that influences us is tied to a significant time in our life.

    but yes, thankyou for sharing

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