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partners to Clean Up

by | Dec 29, 2021 | Cleaning Up, partner, U2

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🎵 Music is the cornerstone of my work now. U2 was formed by people who were, like me, actually not great musicians. Larry played the drums “wrong” and The Edge was at best a rhythm guitar player when they started, to say nothing of Adam who only learned the Bass because they needed one. Even Bono wasn’t that sure of his own voice – both writing and singing. Can we learn something about partners and Cleaning Up – only from the music?

🖋 As you have noticed, I weave echoes of my life throughout these stories about music to illustrate just enough to get you to… think. I call it a “coaching stance” – I know what I think I am trying to convey, but what you actually get from it, and the struggle to make sense of it… that is the way I try to partner with you. Even the posts that frustrate you sonically, lyrically, writing-wise – get you to a different place, hopefully. While it may look like “advice” let me try to Clean Up my intention for all of these articles.

🎵 Bono’s Dad lived out his advice as he was raising his son. And that wasn’t that helpful “His whole thing was, Don’t dream – to dream is to be disappointed. He was a great singer, a tenor, a working-class Dublin guy who listened to the opera and conducted the stereo with my mother’s knitting needles. That was really what I think was his advice to me. He didn’t speak it in those words, but that’s what he meant, and of course that’s really a recipe for megalomania isn’t it? I mean I was only ever interested in big ideas, and not so much dreaming but putting dreams into action, doing the things that you have in your head has become an important thing for me.”

For this song, the Edge felt the chord sequence was too obvious. Producer Daniel Lanois (From Achtung Baby) aided the band with the beginning of the song. At Bono’s suggestion, the bass in the verses was dropped a tone before the relative minor, a change the band believed had been a breakthrough. After what Clayton estimated to be about the third or fourth rewrite of the song, Lillywhite (their original producer) thought that the track needed “a bridge to lift it to the chorus line”.

Bono then asked for a guitar to play like with “One” and spontaneously, in falsetto, sang the lines “And it’s you when I look na na na na / And it’s you du du du du du du du / Sometimes you can’t make it on your own”. Even though Bono had not yet written the rest of the lyrics for this new segment, Lillywhite said: “all of a sudden the song was finished. That song had been around for the best part of five years and no one had ever said to them that it didn’t have a chorus.” Bono recorded his vocals in a single take.

“The song was dedicated to (my Dad) and it’s a portrait of him – He just loved Opera, so in the song, I hit one of those big tenor notes that he would have loved so much. I think he would have loved it, I hope so.” As a tribute to his father, Bono usually removes his large sunglasses during this song. His dad used to say to him, “Bono, why don’t you ever take off those f–king glasses?” And you know who was most proud that his advice had NOT been followed…

…. Bono sang it for the first time at his father’s funeral; it reflects on their tense relationship until just before his death, when Bono claims they became closer than ever before. “The reason why ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’ isn’t a miserable song is because it breaks open with the line ‘you’re the reason I sing, you’re the reason the opera is in me.’ He is the reason I have this life, or at least a very large part of the reason. So I have certainly got to a place of peace with him.”

With all of the partners Cleaning this Up, the song not only was a great tribute to Bono’s Dad, it won the Grammy for Song of the Year in 2006, an amazing achievement as it wasn’t even released in the US as a single at first. This video opens with Bono walking through the actual streets he grew up on, and his words are on the opening sequence…

🖋 The partners around you – are they helping you… Think? No – really Think – right now? They may frustrate you on occasion (like my writing or Bono’s Dad) and that can still be helpful. Good partners offer insights to help you see things you are missing. What you are reading now came from partners that helped me Clean Up my own approach, my own intention. Their insights forced ME to Think, to pause, reflect, and answer the harder questions that only emerge when you really dig deeper.

Many have partners that we willingly give control to effortlessly, full of the “shoulds” and “advice”. Clean that Up… and build partners who only support you and what is best for you – and often do it without words. What partners will help you look forward to working with, those that help you cherish that Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own.

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight, all the time
You and I, that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need, I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

Say, say, say

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can you hear me when I
Sing, you’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me

We’re here now
I’ve still got to let you know
A house doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

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