Wednesday Weeper of the Week: “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” by U2

It’s become fashionable to knock U2 these days. The way they did an end run around the traditional release process and sort of force-fed their album Songs Of Innocence to the public via iTunes aggravated a lot of folks. That and the fact that you can’t watch TV for three seconds without seeing the commercial for the lead single. It’s one thing to have a song or album so popular that it’s overplayed; it’s quite another, I suppose, to kind of strongarm your music to a public that may or may not want to hear it.

I generally don’t get too worked up with anything concerning the ways artists get their music heard these days because the traditional ways are defunct. I only concern myself with the quality of the music. I’ve only heard a couple songs from the album (ironically, I can’t get the thing to play on my iTunes), so I’ll reserve judgment. But I would like to use this week’s Weeper as a way of reminding folks that, as obnoxious or overbearing as their public persona can sometimes seem, this is a band for the ages.

“Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” has always been a favorite of mine, the band using their innate knack for guiding songs from unassuming beginnings into rousing anthems and applying that to a tender ballad. Bono plays the role of would-be protector to an abused woman, but ultimately realizes that she’s beyond his reach.

Amidst the personal details of her life, there is also commentary on the impossibility of intimacy in a world overrun with sights and sounds. The girl escapes through the TV and the radio but can’t connect to the one fellow human who wants to save her. From a deceivingly lumbering pace the song rises to stunning crescendos, Bono hitting those spine-tingling notes in one of my favorite vocal performances of his, a fascinating mix of empathy and disgust.

This one probably doesn’t get the attention it should because it was released on 1993’s Zooropa, an album with an experimental bent that kept it at arms-length from the masses. But “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” is a masterwork in hiding, waiting to be discovered. Instead of lingering on the bitter aftertaste of the whole U2 Apple debacle, savor this stellar slow song of theirs instead.

(E-mail me at or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia.)




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