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executing Clean Up

by | Jan 1, 2022 | Cleaning Up, execute, U2

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🖋 Happy New Year!!! …oh wait.. Maybe fewer exclamation points – I should execute this with a quieter voice.. if I had one:-) My wife reminds me often that there is one thing I am not – quiet. I hope that however, your night was, whenever you are now, and whenever you are reading this, you celebrated well. There is actually a tie-in to today’s song, believe it or not, so let’s quietly jump right in…

🎵 Remember that Brian Eno was not just a producer, but a successful musician and artist before getting involved with U2. The title originated as a line that he had been toying with but he could not find a way to execute it before giving it to U2. The vocals of lead singer Bono were quickly developed in a couple of improvised takes after he arrived at the studio hungover and with very little voice after a “very big night out on the town” and only two hours of sleep. The Edge said that Bono executed “this incredible improvised lyric and melody”, while Bono described his voice as one “that was up all night”

The lyrics are addressed to Bono’s wife, Ali Hewson. Bono said that when they were younger, people at school used to call him a “baby-snatcher” for dating a girl a year younger than him. Bono said that his idea for the song was “the temporal nature of being”, but that setting it during a hangover added “comedy and earthiness that balances the philosophical pretensions”. Midway through the song is a lyrical tangent that includes the lines “A man dreams one day to fly / A man takes a rocket ship into the sky”. The section was informed by Bono reminiscing at the turn of the millennium about the awe he felt over technological marvels such as man landing on the moon … as well as his frustration with the lack of progress in solving world problems like poverty and disease.

The Edge achieved the contrasting clean guitar tone with the simplest possible signal chain. Known for his effects, this is straight-up just his hands, strings, and a couple of pieces of sonic history – executed just like yesterday’s track. After the band was done with the track, the Edge said they found it too traditional and not unique enough. As a result, they took it to Windmill Lane Studios (where it all started) for Richard Stannard who stripped the song down from its layers, found a section of the rhythm track that he liked. The change solidified the song and validated the band’s revamped songwriting approach of “(executing) the material organically and then add[ing] more modern elements on top of it”, rather than building songs from electronics.

Why is Joey Ramone in the video – a montage of Rock And Roll High School (where Huey Lewis is the Principal)? The woman is P J Soles, also from the movie Stripes and Carrie who is the lead with Ramone. The whole thing is then merged with video of U2 playing the song, and for the keen-eyed, while the opening of this song is played on a Strat, the video shows a Les Paul (I know … guitar geek). The white guitar has nothing to do with this song – it is a Mosrite that Johnny Ramone beat the hell out of.  Joey Ramone – Jeff Hyman in real life – was listening to THIS song when he died of cancer at the age of 49. Bono notes his honor of having one of his favorite musicians loving a song of his. It became a gospel song after he heard about Ramone, and U2 subsequently dedicated the song to him for the rest of the Elevation Tour that followed its release.

🖋 So here we are into the New Year, full of new ideas, goals, expectations, and if you have been following along, some space created by Cleaning Up. All that is left is execution… and that is where many of those new things enumerated are undone …by old habits that are hard to Clean Up. I am going to talk next week explicitly about some Simple and Easy approaches to Goal planning and “resolutions” that you will be reading about a lot from others today…

… but now, I would recommend that you press play on the video, listen to these simple lyrics, and reflect on what matters now. One thing you could say about The Ramones – they left very little out. Known for super high-paced punk rock, they spawned a whole generation of musicians that executed everything at full blast. Joey/Jeff died young… and left quite a blaze across music and life. I don’t have a strong bias for or against that approach… or a calmer, quieter approach. What I advocate for is knowing that you have considered the options, have started to think about what you want to execute towards, and Cleaned Up enough of the distractions to stay on target. And that we will get there – together… In A Little While.

In a little while
Surely you’ll be mine
In a little while I’ll be there
In a little while

This hurt will hurt no more
I’ll be home, love
When the night takes a deep breath
And the daylight has no end

If I crawl, if I come crawling home
Will you be there?
In a little while
I will blow by every breeze

Friday night running
To Sunday on my knees
That girl, that girl, she’s mine
And I’ve know her since

Since she was a little girl
With Spanish eyes
Oh, when I saw her
In a pram they pushed her by

Ooh, my how you’ve grown
Well it’s been, it’s been a little while
Slow down my bleeding heart

Man dreams one day to fly
A man takes a rocket ship into the sky
He lives on a star that’s dying in the night
And follows in the trail, the scatter of light

Turn it on
Turn it on, you turn me on
Slow down my bleeding heart
Slowly, slowly love
Slow down my bleeding heart
Slowly, slowly love
Slow down my beating heart
Slowly, slowly love


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