Sunday, April 24, 2005

"With or Without You" by U2

Once again I am sticking to the principle that the most moving song usually is the most simple. The constant of this beautiful song about a troubled relationship is the chord progression, in fact we never waver from the I-V-vi-iv. We start rather simply, just a repeated pattern on guitar (do-sol eighth notes) and a bm-chk-bmbm-chk pattern on the drums. After 4 measures the bass comes in with the chord progression and strane mystical tones are cranked into the foreground. The ethereal tones are guitar harmonics put through a sythesizer, adding an other-worldly sound, to an otherwise plain accompaniment. Bono comes in on the vocals, not in his higher, more powerful voice, but in a lower, resigned tone. The song sings of a man caught in a relationship he neither wants to continue nor end. The first verse is rather straightforward, ending on the tagline "With or without you." The second verse comes in with crunchy muted electric guitar strokes on two and four, which sounds like clapping hands. Here, Bono repeats a second "Without or with you" up an octave higher. After this we move in thicker, adding more percussion and the full electic guitar, with echo pedal on to thicken things even further. This bridge/verse is made up of a lot of repeating "and you give yourself away" over and over. At the end of this we have the first full ending of the tag line, adding on the final "I can't live, with or without you." Bono throughout this verse is becoming more and more agitated, straining higher and higher until the end of this the sound explodes through and he comes in with OH-OH-OH-OH repeated twice (sol-fa-mi re, then sol-fa-mi-do) with backup singers and the full guitar accompanying it. We have a final tagline, then a very slow fadeout that lasts for about 45 seconds.

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