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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 141
Tues. May 29, 2012

“Until The End of the World”
Patti Smith; U2
2011; 1991

“♫ Haven’t seen you in quite
a while/ I was down the hold just
passing time/ last time we met was
a low-lit room/ we were as close
together as a bride and groom/ We ate
the food, we drank the wine/ everybody
having a good time/ except you/ You
we’re talking about the end of the
world
♫”

[A little trivia: “Until the End of the World” shares title of Wim Wenders film of the same name. And both U2 and Patti Smith appear on the original motion picture soundtrack.]

One of the best song titles from U2’s Achtung Baby — has an even more fascinating back story. Did you know Bono’s original intention of “World” was a spirited exchange between Jesus and Judas? Bono explained—“I woke up one morning and it was in my head, a conversation between Judas and Jesus. “That’ll be a hit!” Ali, Bono’s wife, thought to herself. It is not the usual pop fare.”

The fact that it wasn’t a usually pop song is probably one of the reasons the Goddess of Punk—Patti Smith choose to cover “Until the End of the World” for the U2’s awkwardly named tribute album— AHK-toong BAY-bi: Covered.

When I first heard U2 in the eighties I was living in Michigan and had withdrawn from the public arena. There was something in their music that deeply touched me…”
Patti explained having always been a U2 fan. She praised the band in an interview when she said—“Bono’s a great singer and lyricist, great to hear that Edge clarion call, and Adam & Larry are one of the greatest rhythm sections in rock’n‘roll.

You can tell that Patti subscribes to U2’s inherited philosophy that comes from a line of Irish poet Brendan Kennelly—“the best way to serve age is to betray it.”
[A great idea that every artist needs subscribe to— I do— do you?]


Smith also connects with Bono’s love of verse, coincidentally—while writing “Until the End of the World,” Bono was inspired by some of the most inspirational poets of all time. Bono explained—“I was reading all the great poets: Keats, Shelly, Byron. “Until the End of the World” was a kind of vision, it was ecstatic in a religious way, a song about temptation. The temptation is not obvious. The temptation is anything that will keep you away from your destiny.”


According to Bill Flanagan, author of U2 tour bio Until the End of the World and The Stories Behind Every U2 Song, Niall Stokes both noticed allusions to oral sex throughout Achtung Baby. See if you can spot the references in “World?”

“♫ In my dream I was drowning
my sorrows/ but my sorrows, they
learned to swim/ surrounding
me, going down on me/ spilling
over the brim/ waves of regret
and waves of joy/ I reached
out for the one I tried to
destroy/ you, you said you’d
wait/ till the end of the
world
♫”

Faith, Sex, Destiny, Judas, Jesus, and Temptation—sounds like Patti Smith’s kind of song. Patti has a way of making covers, her own—check out her own personal covers collection 2007’s Twelve. But for now, you need to experience Patti’s own stripped down, almost acoustic version of U2’s “Until the End of the World.” Smith’s cover has that haunted piano a-la “Pissin’ in the River.” Smith’s incredible rendition of “Until the End of the World” – alone is worth the price of U2 tribute album— AHK-toong BAY-bi: Covered.

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