U2 – Stay (Faraway, So Close)

Well, after a hellish few hours at Gatwick Airport and not enough sleep, I’m in Dublin. And following a fun day at Lovebox last weekend, which made me decide I need to see more live music, tonight I’m heading off to see Dublin’s most famous sons, U2, at the city’s biggest stadium, Croke Park.

The tickets are a very nice freebie and mean that I can tick off a band many claim are the best live act in the business, without having to cough up the better part of a ton to do so. It also means that I won’t be directly funding a band who’s frontman spends most of his spare time telling governments to give more in foreign aid whilst at the same time being depressingly ‘rock & roll’ and becoming ‘tax-efficient’, i.e. moving the band’s base to a country where they can avoid paying tax, thereby depriving his own country of the sort of funds that go towards aid budgets. The irony of this apparently is lost on a man who thought it ironic to mix the live links to people caught up in the Yugoslavian civil war with a rock concert.

It will also mean, I hope, that I get to see them play Stay (Faraway, So Close) which is, I think, their finest ever track. You can see it being played live in the video above – the reason I’ve not used the official video is that U2’s record company have disabled embedding and so for the same reason I won’t link to anywhere that sells the track – I’m guessing that most of you are clever buggers who can find it somewhere without having to get your credit cards out: it’s not as if it would go towards funding foreign aid anyway. However I digress…

Of course Stay (Faraway, So Close) isn’t their most famous song: that’s probably something like With Or Without You or Where The Streets Have No Name which, fine songs though they are, are perhaps a tad overblown. Or it might be One which is, along with Imagine, one of the most over-rated songs of all time: a load of fortune-cookie philosophy strung along to a catchy tune – undoubtedly good, but hardy a work of genius.

Stay (Faraway, So Close) however is quite possibly a sign that the boys from the Northside really have been touched by genius: it comes from one of their most interesting periods and is restrained, intelligent and utterly beautiful. The lyrics are some of old Bonio’s best, with my particular favourite being the two lines which are somehow both funny and tragic:

You used to stay in to watch the adverts
You could lip synch to the talk shows

Apparently inspired by Sinatra it was recorded in Berlin during the Achtung Baby sessions (probably the best baggy album after Happy Mondays’ Pills ‘n’ Thrils and Bellyaches). It’s also apparently one of Bono’s favourite tracks and one which he thinks is underrated. He’s right.

Trabant by Leandro’s World Tour on flickr


  1. Hey Ciaran,
    I hope they play it, it’s a great song. I have to agree with the others who have told you that they are one of the greatest live acts ever. I saw them here in DC a few years ago and they were excellent even though they were pimping one of my least favorite albums at the time. They played a good mix of old and new.
    I have to put my vote in for Bad from Unforgettable Fire, for some reason the melody of that song is audio bliss for me. And Sunday Bloody Sunday has to be up there for it’s impact . . . it still gives me chills every time I hear it.
    I’m not going to argue you on the tax avoidance thing, but I would like to think that part of the reason they chose to avoid those taxes is so they would have more money to use for their causes. In other words, why pay taxes to a gov’t that isn’t going to go to aid funds when they can give that money to those funds directly. Maybe that’s giving them too much credit, but I hope that’s part of it.

  2. There’s no doubt that Sunday Bloody Sunday will get the hairs on the back of one’s neck rising, especially when it’s preceded by ‘Fuck the revolution!’ as it was in Rattle & Hum following the Enniskillen atrocity – possibly Bono’s finest hour.

    I’d like to think that U2’s decision to become ‘tax-efficient’ was prompted by something more altruistic than simple greed. I fear that it’s not the case, and even if it’s not, it’s short-sighted – taxes pay for much more than just aid, including the schools, roads, hospitals etc… that U2 and all their families have made use of for all their lives.

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