June 9th, 2006

eloquent with rage

"One" by Mary J. Blige and U2

It's been fifteen years since the release of U2's Achtung Baby, a realization that caused me one of those "you're so old" moments. Back in the day, U2's early stuff gave me pleasure. Once The Joshua Tree came out, though, just a hint of any song from that album sent me screaming into the night. But I haven't hated anything since then; even the labored Pop had some fun tunes. Achtung gave us the haunting and resonating "One." All these years later, the song has recently resurfaced in a new version featuring Mary J. Blige on vocals.

Bono and the boys are still there, and he and Mary croon up a storm in this lush interpretation from her 2005 album The Breakthrough. Ironically, the song finds itself filling a similar spot in the psyche of people today as it did back then. Many of us were disenchanted with twelve long years of Republican domination in the White House and Reaganomics's voodoo curse on the country. Today, we're longing for a different sort of release, away from terrorism and the bloodshed of unfounded war. But also, with the global AIDS crisis simmering into a boil in Africa and other areas, the world seems so much smaller than it did all those years ago. As blacks in America continue to feel alienated in our own "free" society, the pull to help their brothers and sisters abroad is more acute than ever before. Hence this musical marriage between "R&B/hip-hop soul"~ and alternative rock, a melding of ideals and issues in our modern American culture. Bono's not native, but the song is universal, and Mary belts her lifeblood into every phrase and note. Where it could have been crash and commercial, "One" again haunts us and resonates louder than ever.

~ From Wikipedia.org.

©2006, Robert A. Geise - May not be reprinted without express permission. Hot-linking welcome.