My philosophy on anything the British musician, visual artist, sound designer, music producer, theorist and activist Brian Eno puts his name to is simply, “buy it.”
That practice has never failed me since first picking up one of Eno’s albums at the behest of one of my brothers in 1976 (as I’ve mentioned before here, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, 1973). And the same goes for anything he’s been associated with, especially if it also has him collaborating with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Lanois, which they’ve done numerous times.
The Irish band U2’s album The Unforgettable Fire (1984), is one such album. It is an incredible work of music. I remember holding the new long-play record’s cover in my hands, mesmerized by the music and the brilliance of the production by these two geniuses.
Thanks to Canadian freelance music publicist Eric Alper (one of the people I enjoyed following when I had a more active presence on Twitter, while trying to avoid the many dumpster fires there), I learned that The Unforgettable Fire was released 36 years ago today. (I also reference Alper in my post on Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing.”)
“Pride (In the Name of Love)” is an absolutely incredible song. It’s so powerful as a tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39; a short life but one that saw many steps toward racial equality in the United States. His murder was a stark reminder that there still was much to be done. There still is, both in the US and in my country, when it comes to reconciliation and reparation with Indigenous, Blacks and People of Colour.
In the live performance video I found, U2 plays “MLK” as an awe-inspiring prelude to “Pride (In the Name of Love).” Interestingly, the tracks are separated on the album: “Pride” is the second song on the A-side, and “MLK,” the last on the B-side. Done as a live performance, they are remarkable together. “MLK” is a fine example of the ambient influence Eno and Lanois brought to the project. The chord changes in the album version of “MLK” are mind-blowing and goosebump-producing.
As a friend said to me many, many years ago when raving about another record, “There are so many sounds…”
Now you know a little about why these two pieces are featured as my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and I hope you enjoy.
Here’s the video, from U2’s official YouTube channel, of the band performing the medley:
Here’s the album version of “MLK,” also from the U2 YouTube channel:
And, the album version of “Pride (In the Name of Love”):
Note: there is a lengthy article about The Unforgettable Fire, on Wikipedia. I skimmed it a little today, but plan to take a closer look at it soon.