Unknown Caller

I liked this song immediately.  The first dozen plays I found it to be the most intriguing song.
 
The opening, quiet strains have an ambience that really sets the mood.  There’s some effect behind there that reminds me a bit of Zooropa or maybe Pop.  It’s subtle but it really layers the sound.
 
The buildup of the beginning of the song gives a distinct feeling of hope.  There’s a feeling of uplifting that hits you right at the core.  But here’s the thing and I love that this seems to be the intent.  The singing in this song feels the exact opposite of that.  The singing is dark and moody and really bites at you.  It’s odd, almost uncomfortable in word and tone at the front of the song.
 
It really creates an interesting effect on you.  When I think of the theme of the record, this is a person who has hit rock bottom.  The beauty of that darkness is that there is nowhere else to go.  I think this song really makes the case of the low ebb with just a dash of hope.
 
I was thinking about the repeated ‘sunshine’ lyric upfront.  If you look at it with the buildup of music it could be taken as uplifting.  That it sits right at the low ebb of the music, maybe it’s meant to be something more pleading.  That was the tone I ended up at for this…someone begging for sunshine.  The falsetto vocal doesn’t give any clues.  The word as its sung give no hint either as it’s neither a forceful statement nor a question.  It is dead even and I think that was done to not over imply anything.
 
After that we get the definition of the darkness.  It’s not subtle.  It’s direct.  A man who needs help.  He’s alone.  And the revisited 3:33 reference seems to say even God isn’t here.  And when he tries to call, there’s no one there.
 
As I said with Moment of Surrender a couple of weeks back, the album feels like one giant journey of a man with God.  There’s life going on but almost every song seems to have some reference.
 
Then, there’s a strange change in tone.  At first I wasn’t sure who was talking, saying ‘Go.  Shout it out’.  Looking at that entire verse, I can see nothing but God talking.  He says okay, enough.  Get up.  Shut up.  And my favourite phrase on the entire album…Shush now!  And then?  What a bizarre twist in phrasing..force quit and move to trash.  The obvious meaning is throw away your old life and move forward.  But could there be a more awkward change of verbage?  Why the techno-jargon?  Maybe Bono’s looking for modern relevance of God that is missing and he’s using computer-speak to try and do it.  If anyone has other good ideas on this, I’d love to hear them.
 
We return to desperate man who now seems to hear something.  Is God talking to him; is he hearing things?  He tells us about standing at the precipice, ready to give up.  I love the ‘top of the bottom’ wording.  And my driving to the accident waiting for me to arrive is just a brilliant way of saying how close to the end he really was.
 
And then we’re back to techo-God!!  Master of the universe and computer lingo!  What’s so weird is that it both works and doesn’t work.  On its own it feels bizarre, awkward, forced.  In the context of the song it seems to really work. 
 
So here’s my last strange comment.  I think Bono uses the jargon to divert attention from the fact that God is trying to save this man.  He’s not dealing in this struggle alone.  And though you could think his conscience is telling to get up, get out and get on but I don’t buy it.  The whole ‘shush now’ and ‘cease to speak that I may speak’ are just too direct, too obvious to mean anything else.
 
I love this song, still.  It’s all over the place and totally together.  What more could you want?
 
As always, alternate ideas, thoughts or any form of debunking more then welcome…
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