Monday, May 20, 2013

U2 - "The Wanderer"

U2's 1993 record Zooropa is an underrated gem of the band's catalog. It held the hits "Lemon", "Stay",  and "Numb", yet is oft-considered the younger sibling of the monster hit Achtung Baby from the year prior. Even the band's guitarist Edge has referred to it as nothing "more than an interlude". Recorded while the band was on the Zoo TV tour for that earlier record, Zooropa was an extension of the Achtung Baby aesthetic, but bathed it the realities of touring, and free of the sterility of the studio. Many of the songs were loaded with societal critique, and the broken-hearted romance of its predecessor was largely left behind. Those songs that did qualify as "love" songs had a more positive bent, and were more about finding love, than lamenting its loss. Case in point, the album's final track, "The Wanderer".

A bit of an anomaly on the record, the song (which was written and recorded by U2) has vocals by the late Johnny Cash. This is, depending on your perspective, a lovely close to the album by one of music's greats, or the lost chance to hear Bono's vocals on one of the record's best compositions. Here at HAD, we've always fallen between the two camps: The writing on the tune is unquestionably killer, and it's one of the albums highlights. Moreover, we had never had access to a Bono version of the track, so there was no real way to know what we were missing — until now.

Over the weekend, we stumbled upon the video above while browsing the interwebs. Filmed at a Johnny Cash tribute after his death, the clip features the band singing "The Wanderer" in full as a tribute to Mr. Cash. And, we must say: it's amazing. The tune's range is perfect for Bono's late-career vocals, and Edge adds a Dion-style backing vocal not found on the album. The two come together to flesh out the tune and allow it to come together as something it never was on Zooropa: the album's defining track, allowing the band to head out into the world to explore the next big thing, and go wandering.