Song of the Day #752: ‘Lemon’ – U2

Looking back on mixtapes I’ve made over the years, I notice one recurring mistake. Too often, I haven’t considered my audience when choosing songs.

If I found a song that I really liked and it fit well in the mix, I threw it in there. But the perfect fit for me might not be such a perfect fit for the recipient if the song itself isn’t to his or her liking. The last thing you want is somebody having the urge to press fast-forward in the middle of your masterpiece.

I put U2’s song ‘Lemon’ on a mixtape for my sister years ago, and though I love it to death to this day, I can’t imagine it did anything but annoy her. If I was making that tape again today there’s no way I’d put this song on it.

But maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe mixtapes should push people down alleys of the musical landscape that they’d never visit voluntarily. Perhaps for every three shoulder shrugs and eye rolls you’ll hook your listener onto one tune that she’ll love forever.

I suspect this electronica-fueled seven minutes of U2 doing Talking Heads circa Remain in Light wasn’t the song that hooked my sister, but I bet something else unexpected on that tape did.

See through in the sunlight
She wore lemon
But never in the daylight
She’s gonna make you cry
She’s gonna make you whisper and moan
And when you’re dry
She draws her water from the stone

And I feel
Like I’m slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I’m holding onto nothing

She wore lemon
To colour in the cold grey night
She had heaven
And she held on so tight

A man makes a picture
A moving picture
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close
A man captures colour
A man likes to stare
He turns his money into light to look for her

And I feel
Like I’m drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore
And I feel
Like I’m swimming out to her

Midnight is where the day begins

See through in the sunlight

A man builds a city
With banks and cathedrals
A man melts the sand so he can
See the world outside
her there
A man makes a car
And builds roads to run them on
A man dreams of leaving
But he always stays behind

And these are the days
When our work has come asunder
And these are the days
When we look for something other

Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins

A man makes a picture
A moving picture
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close
her there
A man captures colour
A man likes to stare
He turns his money into light
To look for her
She is the dreamer
She’s imagination
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close

9 thoughts on “Song of the Day #752: ‘Lemon’ – U2

  1. Dana says:

    Hate this. And I don’t hear Talking Heads here–just bad German disco electronica.

    I think you can push boundaries with a mixed tape, but the rubber band needs to be pushed without snapping. Not sure if this one pushed or snapped for Amy, but it would have snapped for me.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m sure I got one minute into this song, hit eject, and reached for my “The Only Little Boy in New York” mixtape (not the title – but an early song that I indentify on that tape); I think you hit on the key in this entry. You need to choose songs that the recipient probably doesn’t know but would likely love if given a chance. To place songs on a mixtape that you can guess in advance will not be to the recipient’s liking seems just plain mean 😉 – and certainly a way to make sure your masterpiece is never listened to in its entirety.

    Still, you can be rest assured that there were far fewer lemons (ha – how great is that?) on those tapes than songs that got me.

  3. Clay says:

    I’m of two minds on this issue. On the one hand, I subscribe to the idea that art should not be created based on the demands of the audience. A filmmaker shouldn’t craft his film according to what a focus group wants… he should make the movie he wants to make and hope the right audience finds it.

    A mixtape is a work of art in a sense, even though it’s a collection of other people’s work. It’s a musical collage, and that collage should be a true representation of its creator’s vision.

    That said, most mixtapes are intended for an audience of one. Tailoring the content to that audience isn’t the equivalent of watering it down for a focus group.

    I can’t help it if you don’t recognize the excellence of this song. But knowing that’s a distinct possibility, I should probably steer my project in another direction.

  4. Dana says:

    There really shouldn’t be two schools of thought on this. A mixtape is a gift, generally to one person. So, while it is, in a sense, creative, as with any gift, the primary if not exclusive goal is to be thoughtful and considerate to the person receiving the gift. If you know, or strongly suspect, that the recipient is not likely to enjoy the song(s) on the tape, I think it is being a bit selfish and thoughtless to place such a song(s) on the tape.

    Of course, as we said above, if you sincerely believe that you can expand a person’s universe and stretch the bounds of their appreciation for certain styles, artists, etc…, then I think that is arguably the best reason to make such a tape. It is basically the very definition of a “gift” in that it is something the recipient has not bought and may not have bought for themselves, but you believe they will nevertheless enjoy.

    So, in summary, putting this piece of techno crap on Amy’s mixtape was not a good idea, and cannot be rationalized. Frankly, I’m surprised she still talks to you. Lord knows what kind of songs you put on that high school “friend’s” mixtape resulting in your inability to even utter the “friend’s” name on this blog:) (I’m sure Alex will particularly enjoy that smiley face-laced comment)

  5. Clay says:

    I believe it was just such a desire — to expand Amy’s musical horizons — that I included this modern rock masterpiece on her tape. But like a child shunning filet mignon in favor of chicken nuggets, she resisted.

    I learned my lesson, and it was nothing but Indigo Girls and Tracy Chapman soundalikes from there on out.

  6. Amy says:

    As I said earlier this week, I’m loving this theme after having just read High Fidelity. It is one of the major marks of emotional and intellectual maturation when the main character begins to recognize that buying music (or gifting a mixtape) for another person in an opportunity to show his sensitivity and appreciation of the recipient’s tastes rather than his own.

    As for comparing this song to filet mignon… +&%#@*

    I am happy to say that you I found a whole bunch of these old tapes, though not a couple of my old favorites, which must have been stored in another box somewhere (and will be found!)

    This is the song that preceded “Lemon” on my mixtape:

    That one I like very much.

    You also threw on some Morrisey (which no mixtape seemed complete without), Bob Dylan (no surprise there), David Bowie, The Clash (big surprise there), and assorted other artists.

    The unexpected surprise of a song I remember loving best on one of my very favorite (currently missing 😦 mixtapes is this one:

    I listen to this song, and I am right back in graduate school, flipping a cassette that has been played again and again and again. That, my friend, is art.

  7. Amy says:

    Wasn’t trying to be coy; sorry the videos aren’t cooperating.

  8. Clay says:

    Not sure why your clips aren’t showing up, but you’ll be happy to see that the second one is Thursday’s SOTD.

  9. Amy says:

    I just saw that!!!!

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