Author Topic: American Soul  (Read 1241 times)

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Offline miryclay

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2018, 10:42:55 AM »
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Offline laoghaire

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2018, 12:55:32 PM »
As I said elsewhere, I had a hard time getting this album (like most people). Some songs I could see potentially liking even if I didn't quite yet (Red Flag Day, Landlady), some songs I seem to have completely missed in some incredible oversight (Lights of Home, The Little Things That Give You Away), and some I felt like I had no chance of ever coming to like (American Soul, You're the Best Thing About Me). So, American Soul was a challenge inside a challenge.

For what it's worth, Volcano was also a latecomer for me in SOI.

The beginning of American Soul (beyond the Kendrick Lamar verse, I mean) seemed droning to me. When I finally grokked the album, the part of the song that lit up for me was the Call her home, Brother John verse - I don't know why, but it's the part that I always crank up the volume. I have to listen to U2 on full volume but I have to concede a few decibels when I start so that I still have a little room left to turn it up.

The RefuJesus thing doesn't bother me, though I know it probably drives a lot of people crazy. Classic Bono stuff. The first time I heard the song I was watching it on, was it the Grammys? And they had the word RefuJesus spelled out so I knew it was coming. I did notice right away that it could be flipped to Refugees: Us. Look, whether you love it or you hate it, it's something to think about, like the red spot on Jupiter.

I like the Kendrick Lamar stuff and loooove that they bridged it over Get Out of Your Own Way and American Soul. In fact, that might be why I was able to work on American Soul enough to really hear it, because I might otherwise have skipped it after Get Out when listening through the album. However, I'm not 100% reassured about the meaning of the lyrics Kendrick Lamar sings.

At first glance they are obviously a rebuke of rich, lying, arrogant elites. But then I'm not completely certain. "Blessed are the liars, for the truth can be awkward" - is that really a strong condemnation? The truth is awkward? Really?

And what does it really mean to say "Blessed are the superstars, for the magnificence in their light, we understand better our own insignificance"? In my set of values, being humble is very important, so this lyric speaks to that. Yet, the lyric could be saying that superstars are better than us, that their light shines over our insignificance and that way we can understand that we are nothing. That sounds elitist. And coming from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Bono, two superstars, what the hell does that mean?

"Blessed are the filthy rich, for you can only truly own what you give away, like your pain." Again, from the likes of filthy rich people. Including certain people with offshore accounts and Eastern European malls and other money-machine ventures. However, I can't accuse U2 of giving away their pain - well, they may share it but they don't inflict it.

I wasn't sure if these lyrics were written by Lamar or Bono, but a quick Google shows the lyrics credits go only to the lads, which means it's Bono. If I felt more settled about these verses I could feel a lot better about everything.

Offline Quester11

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 10:16:21 PM »
I really didn't like it. The parts from Volcano feels extremely forced, jarring and derivative. It gives the impression that it thinks it's really edgy or poignant when it's just cringy and stupid, saying "AMERICA" like it's some really edgy protest statement.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2018, 12:18:34 PM »
Almost two months later, and to my surprise American Soul is not only hanging in there for me, but my interest in it has only increased. It feels like there are a lot of layers in it, a lot to notice.

When I read critical takes on the song, I totally get them, and yet - this song keeps drawing me back.

While it's not a similar song, I have a similar experience with California. Cali was one of the last songs on SOI I got into. If I ranked my favorite songs I don't think it would come to mind. I don't even rank Cali in my faves on SOI much less in the ouerve.

And yet, I get an itch to listen. A lot more than I give it credit for. Same with AS. I find them like dinky puddles that you step in before you realize they are basically lakes.

AS is kind of a mess sonically. The put your hands in the air section is mumbled. The look around look around part was too repetitive. People find the lyrics offensive or preachy or crappy. I get all that, I really do. But I hear a monster underneath it all.

Can't believe this is one of the songs I am most looking forward to hearing live. There have been some positive reports. (I haven't heard/seen recordings yet).

Offline dougie

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2018, 12:29:39 PM »
This was my second least favorite song on the album. But, it is great live. I loved it. My third favorite live E & I SONG  after RFD and LIBTAIIW.

Offline redapple129

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2018, 09:00:03 PM »
I'm curious as to whether the lines Bono put on XXX were made primarily for that song and then became part of American Soul or the other way around, as "the sound of drum and bass" has radically different meanings across the two. "Drum and bass" is a common hip-hop metaphor for the sound of gunshots, so whereas in American Soul "this country is to me a sound of drum and bass" could be interpreted as the idea of America being a driving call to action, in XXX it's a portrait of violence-torn destruction in line with the rest of the song. I wonder which of the two meanings it had first.

Offline Vox

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Re: American Soul
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2018, 10:54:28 AM »
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I'm curious as to whether the lines Bono put on XXX were made primarily for that song and then became part of American Soul or the other way around, as "the sound of drum and bass" has radically different meanings across the two. "Drum and bass" is a common hip-hop metaphor for the sound of gunshots, so whereas in American Soul "this country is to me a sound of drum and bass" could be interpreted as the idea of America being a driving call to action, in XXX it's a portrait of violence-torn destruction in line with the rest of the song. I wonder which of the two meanings it had first.

I remember reading somewhere (I can't remember if it was a Bono or Kendrick Lamar interview -- love them both) that U2 had sent Kendrick an early version of "American Soul" and wanted him to be featured on it for the new U2 album.  Kendrick liked that particular line of that song, liked some of the rhythm and pacing of it, but imagined it in a different way and asked if he could sample it for "XXX" on DAMN.  SO -- it's my understanding that Kendrick Lamar basically sampled that line for "XXX."