On Repeat: “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”
It’s easy to overlook the pleasures of a simple pop songs, or the grandeur of an anthem built to flood arenas with joy and wonder– until you hear it in the context of an album like U2’s No Line on the Horizon. Ushering in the album’s rousing middle section– where the band takes a sharp left-turn away from the dark atmospherics of the first four tracks and reminds us why they’ve always been the masters of getting entire stadiums full of people to join together in fist-pumping, sing-along unity– the song is part soulful All That You Can’t Leave Behind pop, part Joshua Tree euphoria. More to the point, it’s arguably the band’s best shot of effervesent, funky mainstream pop yet.
It, and the rest of No Line‘s middle segment, has been unjustly maligned by some critics. Yes, the lyrics are all slogans and catch phrases– not the more ponderous poetry of, say, “White as Snow” or the spiritual revelry of “Magnificent“– but that could really be said of any number of great pop songs, or any number of U2 songs, for that matter. The song is meant to throw a curve into the album’s path, but what makes it genius is that it also finds its place in the album’s tapestry; it’s a song written from a perspective of wisdom and experience, as though an older couple is offering encouragement to a couple that’s just starting out, which fits the album’s feel of reflection, retrospection, and peaceful, spiritual settling.
Plus, it just plain kicks.