Happy New Year, and welcome to 2021. This blog will be one year old in a few days, and I’m looking forward to sharing more music with you, each day this year.
It might be a corny choice for today to pick “New Year’s Day,” the lead single from Irish band U2’s 1983 album, War. But as I thought of the opening lyrics, I felt their relation to the present.
“All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day
I will be with you again
I will be with you again”
(from “New Year’s Day,” by Adam Clayton, David (the Edge) Evans, Paul (Bono) Hewson, Larry Mullen, Jr.)
The Solidarity movement of Poland in the 1980s influenced the piece, which was initially to be a love song by lead singer Bono to his wife. The bass line was reportedly worked out by Adam Clayton when he tried to mimic the rhythm from another 1980s song, “Fade to Grey,” by the new romantic band Visage (which included Ultravox’s lead singer, Midge Ure).
Producer Steve Lillywhite (who has worked with Simple Minds and many other bands) was in the production booth for War. There are similarities in his production to that of other U2 producers like Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.
“All is quiet…” is like a theme line for our current time. As we cross the arbitrary marker from one year into the next, we are still in the grips of the risks and restrictions we have faced for almost ten months. Today itself is rather quiet: I’m taking a day off my bike trainer (excited and grateful to have surpassed my 2020 cycling goal of 5,050 kilometres (3,138 miles) by 201 km (125 mi); and Sweety and I took a walk together and sat on a bench at the riverbank for a while… it was quiet there, and the weather, mild. Even our home seems a little more quiet than usual as we recall the year past and continue pondering about the coming year. Part of that is setting healthy intentions, expectations and boundaries to guide our lives, and trying to fit these within the confines of pandemic life.
“I will be with you again…” for me vocalizes the heartache of having to be physically distant or even totally apart from people we love. Much hope exists that we will be able to gather in the coming months. If we had a specific date that we could count on, that would be something to plan toward and make this time easier to endure. We humans do not cope well with such rampant and long-lasting uncertainty.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio for the full, original track from U2’s official YouTube channel. There is also an official music video, but I’m not fond of edits like that version, cut by about a minute, or the radio edit which is almost two minutes shorter.
Full lyrics are available at AZLyrics.com.