Songs of Innocence 1: Sleep Like A Baby Tonight

U2 Time

I’ve been enjoying U2’s Songs of Innocence album – kindly donated into my life by Apple!  There is so much to enthuse about. The standout track for me so far is Sleep Like A Baby Tonight.  Musically is has a lilting lullaby-like style – mellow… but there is a deep dark element of menace in it that The Edge manages to capture with some simple but astounding guitar work.  The lead guitar solo late in the piece sounds as if he is channeling an old African-American playing mournful blues on his muted trumpet – rich, wide, sad, broken. The sense of menace in the music is reflective of what informed the writing of the song – the clergy sexual abuse of children and young adults that has transpired to have been a dark undercurrent in the church the the years that shaped and formed this group of men into a band.  It may not have impacted them individually but it impacted the lives of many around them and thereby shaped them.
Here is Bono’s reflection on this song: “Some can live with cruelty and abuse. Some have to… When the children of any church aren’t served, but are instead enslaved by an abuse of power, extraordinary acts of atonement are required to put things back together. Honesty is just the starting point…secrets can make you sick. Ireland in the ‘70s was a tough place.”
The menace,captured so well in the lyrics and the music, makes this song extraordinary.  It is one thing to rage with loud chords and angry vocals – but to reflect the menace gently and patiently but pointedly indicates the depth of wisdom that U2 are tapping into this album.


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