Author Topic: Vertigo (Crimson Nails)  (Read 9883 times)

Carl

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Vertigo (Crimson Nails)
« on: October 10, 2004, 07:30:20 PM »
Quote
Originally posted by Between Two Worlds
"I can't stand the beats" - I love that line with its ambiguity. (continued by the "check/cheque" ambiguity). I am fairly sure that the "crimson nails" are to be read on two levels and it may be the beats that push these nails into Jesus' body (colouring them crimson) which Bono can't stand. However, like the rivergoat I hear an "f" rather than a "b" (although I do seem to hear the "s" at the end of the word) and "sell" is not entirely out of the question either (selling feats?)...


Interesting.  Though I'm not sure how a girl with blood stained nails would have Jesus swinging on her neck, which makes me think it is a more modern reference.  It could possibly be a reference to either a percieved contradiction socially (ie bright red finger paint and a cross) or an allusion to blood in a more literal sense... ie those with blood stained hands who justify conflict through  christian values.  This ties in with the bullets that rip the sky, if you look at the war in Iraq from a certain standpoint.  I'm still not sure about how the music of the band (playing under the canopy of war) ties in with the girl swinging to said music... perhaps their beats are somehow wrapped up in this effort?  The interpretation doesn't seem to make sense wholistically, unless you take beats as artillery shells or something.  Of course "asking for the check" really changes depending on the line before it!

I personally shy away from interpreting the whole song in this manner, as the chorus doesn't fit (but / except showing the singer is looking to that 'someone' as giving them something beyond the vertigo of the current political climate and/or basic human condition).  It is a curent issue that causes a certain amount of uneasiness from nearly any standpoint however.

Between Two Worlds

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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2004, 02:41:48 PM »
Girl with crimson nails: I was thinking more of two overlapping images rather than trying to mix the references. In other words I see two scenes at once. I have observed that in a poem by Ted Hughes describing the funeral of Princess Diana where he used the "Holy Mother and Her Son" image. It's probably quite common in modern poetry but I only dabble in poetry so I am talking without much knowledge.

More importantly, U2 seems to be using this technique, or at least is offering texts open to such a double take. "Until the End of the World" is maybe the best example. Is it a song about boy meets girl at a party or Jude betraying Jesus in the garden? (See Steve Stockman in Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2). Arguably, it can be read at both levels (but the two levels are not mixed).

If the same thing goes on in Vertigo, then we see (a) a girl with painted nails swinging to the music at a rock concert, and (b) Jesus nailed on the cross.

And it fits with the rest of the song, if one wishes. Rock music cannot change the world but it may help you to look at things differently - which is not bad given that "the jungle is your head" (rather than "it's a jungle out there").

Jesus too ( just maybe referred to as "showman" in the three mumbled lines if these are heard as an allusion to his first sign - "change it", "jars full") does not seem to have achieved much, ending up 'round someone's neck as trendy utensil rather than statement of faith.

And yet someone's love can teach us how to kneel - the audience's love for U2 and/or Jesus' love expressed in his death on the cross?

"All Because of You" may be capable of a similar double reading. But I freely admit that as a Christian (and biblical scholar), I am predisposed to hearing the lyrics this way and I am already eagerly looking forward to "Crumbs From Your Table" (another phrase from the Gospels) and "Yahweh"!

Carl

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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2004, 03:19:36 PM »
I'm pretty familiar with the multiple UTEOTW interps, it is stronger live "we broke the bread, we drank the wine".  I can see Vertigo both ways personally, either as two separate levels or as mixed imagery.  I don't think there were any girls who nailed Jesus to the cross, nor can I see how he would be swinging around her neck unless it was on a small necklace.  A lot of lines wouldn't make much sense if you tried to take the song back to the crucifixion, ie a band playing music while bullets fly overhead... I can't think of any imagery that would correspond to this.

For a Christian interpretation I would see it more as Christ being the single thing which makes the uncertainty, superficiality, and confusion of existence worthwhile... the one thing that is pure enough to really feel above everything else, which is a part of fallen existence.  It could either be in reference to the specific time we live in (Electrical Storm, etc) or just material existence in general.  I suppose the uncertainty of the times take is enhanced by the changed line in the remixes.

I was actually thinking of writing up some interesting "fake" interpretations of the song to see how far I could take things while still keeping true to the words.  The song really leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and it would be fun.

I should be putting up some transcriptions of ABOY and COBL soon... audience recordings from TOTP so I doubt they'll be perfect, but they should at least be more accurate than Love and Peace and Miracle Drug.  Since you were there I'm guessing you'll be interested enough to take a crack at them.

sirensong984

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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2004, 07:12:53 PM »
hello. may not be my place to comment on lyrical interpretation..but this is a very interesting discussion.  something i love about bono is that he writes songs that are so heavy, but disguises them as fluff by putting in things like "the girl with crimson nails has jesus 'round her neck.."  i think sometimes he puts things in that a) sound good and b)make a pretty picture but don't necessarily directly mean what he's getting across.  like..maybe the point from that sound just be "crimson nails" as in bloody carpenter tool..but to make it fluff enough he puts in the girl...

i think it's good he does this because, well, while i love deciphering his meanings, nobody would want to hear "another song about jesus from U2" ;)

again sorry to butt in on something that is not my domain

Carl

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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2004, 10:57:52 PM »
No problem about that, it isn't like I have to wade through a massive amount of daily posts or anything.

But assuming that the kneeling is to God/Jesus, why in the iTunes and TOTP video does Bono look like he is being subjugated??  I suppose it could be getting rid of the ego to re-establish a connection with the "I and I" but it brings to mind the fight scene in UTEOTW.

POP had a lot of Christian themed songs that were really interesting to ponder... not just a "you are my saviour, but I'll hide it in drag" but really examaning his ambivalent views towards organized religion being Irish while still affirming his sense of spirituality.

Between Two Worlds

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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2004, 03:16:00 PM »
I agree that unlike what we have with UTEOW, we are here not talking about a complete overlay of two images. The dominant image of the song for me is that of a rock concert with flashes of other images (which I would not want to mix). One of these are the bullets which rip the sky - not at the same time and place with the rock concert in the narrow sense of location and yet it happens at the same time (our time) and place (our world) - the lust for war which rock'n roll can do little to combat. I seem to remember Bono speaking about fame as a currency which he tries to use well. So rock music can help even apart from making minds wander but it doesn't change the world.

It didn't occur to me that the kneeling might be negative, have to think about that. You're of course right about the ambivalence.

Thanks for the lyrics to the TOTP performance. I cannot judge their accuracy (far too exciting and, alas, fleeting an experience to keep track of what precisely was said) but they ring true to me, including the spoken words. On the night I thought the comment about smoking 40 cigarettes a day was related to Bono's coughing just before he made the comment.

Carl

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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2004, 02:53:31 AM »
Yeah I should put little coughing sounds in the description, though I think on reflection the pure exaggeration of it seems to lend itself to the nostalgia about the power of naivete. ;)

The kneeling thing shows up again in the "live at the HQ" studio video though not as pronounced as the earlier ones.  The CD:UK performance doesn't have that element, but 3/4 seems interesting.  I don't see the entire song based around the concert... to me the first verse stands alone, more of a character description (though it could be someone at a concert, perhaps even the crimson nailed one).  I'll try and post up a section by section interp of mine sometime soon, as it'd be nice to have something more central to refer to I think.

About the fleeting chance to listen to the music/lyrics, have you checked your private messages (U2U's) here recently? :)  Seeing U2 live can be an ineffable, noetic, transient, passive state (not to mention blissful and with a sense of union)!

Time allowing it'd be fun to go over most of the POP songs here.

Between Two Worlds

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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2004, 09:51:58 AM »
(Thanks, Carl for the private message, I had not realised they existed!)

Now - if "all of this can be yours" is an allusion to the temptation of Jesus during which the devil is said to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he falls down before him (Matthew 4; Luke 4), the kneeling is one to be resisted!

Carl

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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2004, 05:48:21 PM »
Well this Bono's take on it (thanks to u2tour.de).

About Vertigo. Where is Vertigo?

Bono:
It’s a dizzy feeling, a sick feeling, when you get up to the top of something and there’s only one way to go. That’s not a dictionary definition, that’s mine, and in my head I created a club called Vertigo, with all these people in it and the music is not the music you want to hear, and the people are not the people you want to be with, and then you see somebody and she’s got a cross around her neck, and you focus on it, because you can’t focus on anything else. You find a little tiny fragment of salvation there.

[Edited on 2004-11-18 by Carl]