Last night, I ended up watching Glee. It’s not a particularly bad show, but it’s certainly not high caliber television. On one hand, it is kind of interesting to see a show focusing on a different side of high school other than jocks and preppies. (Though it still seems to be full of cliches.) Last night’s show ended with an ensemble performance of U2’s “One”. From what I gathered from the story-line one girl lost her voice, and an injured football player helped her get her mojo back. Thus they sing “One” together.
“One” is one of the greatest songs ever written, and U2’s absolute masterpiece, but like many listeners and cover versions Glee seemed to miss the point of the song. Even though the chorus contains the lines, “we’re one, but we’re not the same” – it’s not about everybody coming together in some sort of hippie paradise. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about splitting up, and realizing that you cannot be together. “Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same?” rank among the best, and harshest opening lines ever put to music. If you don’t get the irony of those lines, the next two sum it up: “Will it make easier on you, now you got some one to blame?”
The most emotional part of the song comes when Bono sings: “You say ‘Love is a temple, love the higher law'”. Throughout the entire song he’s singing in the first-person – giving his perspective to the breakdown of a relationship. But during the bridge he doesn’t let his lover off the hook. He throws it back in her face. Unfortunately, The Glee cast didn’t put in the “you say” line, basically destroying the entire meaning of “love is a temple” section of the song. This is why the the video for “One” where Bono is in the bar is so memorable and emotional. For most of the song, he lip syncs to the lyrics. But he stops after “you say”, because it’s not him speaking anymore.
I’m all for exposure to good music, but I think the producers should know what the song is about. Ironically, “One” would have been a good fit on that particular episode. Another story-line dealt with a gay character coming out to his father, and “One” would have fit perfectly with that scenario.