search 2013 adfgs
Alibris

Radio Hymns #3: 40 (How Long)

u2-40-single.jpg Following on their first two albums dealing with adolescence (Boy) and spirituality (October), U2′s third studio album turned political in 1983 with War. Besides the album title, songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day” issue their comment on the world at the time, when Bono said, “War seemed to be the motif for 1982. Everywhere you looked, from the Falklands to the Middle East and South Africa, there was war. By calling the album War we’re giving people a slap in the face and at the same time getting away from the cozy image a lot of people have of U2.”

As the recording sessions for War drew to a close, u2-war-cover.jpg three band members stayed in the studio after bassist Adam Clayton had left. They decided they didn’t have a good song to end the album with, so Bono, The Edge, and Larry Mullen Jr. quickly recorded “40″, with The Edge switching off to play electric and bass guitar. During a live performance in April 1987, Bono joked, “We spent ten minutes writing this song, ten minutes recording it, ten minutes mixing it, ten minutes playing it back, and that’s got nothing to do with why it’s called ’40′.”

The song was released as a promotional single only in Germany to promote U2′s appearance at the Loreley Festival in 1983. The single was released on a 7″ record with a B-side of the album version of “Two Hearts Beat as One”.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Since its live debut in 1983, “40″ has been performed over 300 times, typically as the final song to end the show. Often, the crowd will continue singing “How long… to sing this song?” even after the band has left the stage, one by one. The recording of this song at Red Rocks is one of my favorites.

Of course, the song is from Psalm 40, verses 1-3. In the context of Psalm 40, the psalmist is remembering a past deliverance out of which the psalmist sings a new song, but the context of an album about war, it becomes a cry for deliverance so that we can sing a new song.

40

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song?

You set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see, many will see and hear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?

Comments are closed.

Additional comments powered by BackType