Monday, March 09, 2009

Rip Off Your Boots


I've been digging the new U2 album No Line on the Horizon in a big way. It is full of grand visions, haunting introspections and, above all, great playing by Edge, Adam and Larry, with just the right amount of Eno/Lanois-ification to keep it weird.

But as I listened to it over the weekend, something began to bug me: the lead single, "Get On Your Boots" is a total rip-off of one of the shittiest songs of the 80s: "Wild Wild West" by the Escape Club. Apparently I'm not the only one who noticed:

U2 elevates the tune above Escape Club territory by adding a nice a fuzz guitar riff and some very Bowie-in-Berlin touches throughout the song, no doubt courtesy of Brian Eno.

I'm sure if he was asked about the similarities between the two songs in an in-depth Rolling Stone Interview with Jann Wenner, Bono would say he was playfully tipping his cap to Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" or Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," both of which use a similar melodic structure. But rather than name-check these predictably critic-proof artists, why not just come clean?

ROLLING STONE: Bono, No Line's lead single "Get On Your Boots" bears an undeniable similarity to The Escape Club's 1988 hit "Wild Wild West."
BONO: Well, Jann, in between reading Ulysses and drinking Guinness and meeting with Tutu and Mandella and Brangelina, I listened to a lot of Escape Club, particularly "Wild Wild West." And if you look at what's happening 20 years later, with the collapse of the economy and Darfur and the war against terrorism and W, it's like the Wild Wild West all over again.

RS: Are you saying the Escape Club were prophets?
BONO (pulls down orange shades): I'm saying that Escape Club wrote a "Times They Are A-Changin'" for the new millenium when no one was looking (laughs).

RS: So that's why you decided to steal the song wholesale?
BONO (lighting a cigarette): Eno has a saying: good artists borrow, great artists steal, and the greatest artists steal from the lousiest ones.

U2: "Get On Your Boots" Late Show with David Letterman 6 March 2009

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