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A rock nyc Christmas Playlist # 15 – U2’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Reviewed

Here we go, it is that secular awards show known as Christmas for Western Civilization and everybody who wished they were a part of it. Christmas is less about Jesus Christ’s birthday (which it wasn’t) but (thank you, Charles Dickens) a time of peace on earth and good will to all (wo)men, the reason for it blurs but the glittery, expansive rich man’s weather tearing through families to land at New Year’s Eve where the younger members are buried deep in the back yard with all their filthy lucre and the adults go out and do things they perhaps shouldn’t.

First, as noted, my business is secular and not theological so though I was bred on English Carols I have included none (I think my # 1 would be “Good King Wenceslas”). I considered “The Little Drummer Boy” but I couldn’t find a version that stood up well enough (Joan Jett came awful close).  Also, I initially planned on only ten, but the minimum I could do was fifteen. I thought it was the greatest Christmas songs but studying the list again, it is closer to my favovite Christmas songs so two from Christmas Gift and two from Presley’s Christmas album, two from Ze Christmas. If it was the greatest, of the two of thousands versions of  “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” U2 wouldn’t have made it. And two versions of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

The original is better except for the coda where Bono let’s loose and makes the song his own for the final 30 seconds. But taken out of the Spector contest, Bono is near his peak here,  with no shades but a terrific pork pie hat looks great, he flirts and cajoles the camera, seduces it, begs it, leans on the Edge and turns around and is brought to his knees. The black and white glistens and the mood is one of squeeze and then release. The song was initially released on A Very Special Christmas in 1987, curated by Jimmy Iovine with cover art by Keith Haring, to benefit the Special Olympics. It’s a terrific album though not A Christmas Gift For You. 

At the time U2 covered “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home,” Darlene Love had yet the perform it every year on the Letterman Show, it was big but U2 blasted it through the last door into perennial greatness. 1987 was the year U2 became U2 with The Joshua Tree, they were at a height of  their popularity and had become the new generation of rock bands after the 60s explosion. In the 70s, rock bands weren’t U2, they didn’t tower over the scene, and certainly they haven’t since the 80s, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, all those grunge bands were about turning down the toxic masculinity. Bono lead U2 as a world anthem maker and he topped off the year with a song where he took the holly and strangled himself in loneliness while the band rang their guitars like the trilling of Christmas bells, but with an imbedded sadness that distills the want. Bono’s despair builds and builds till he riffs on “baby, please come home” to the fade out.


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