Passengers: Miss Sarajevo
rom Pavarotti’s very first line “Dici che il fiume” this song goes somewhere else entirely. All the traces of Eno’s milk-washed U2 production, the rhythm section’s understated performance and even Bono’s 'beauty pageant in a warzone’ lyrics take second place to the man they call “Maiale Della Pasta”. I don’t know (or probably care) if Pavarotti is the greatest living Tenor or if this is a merely passable performance or an Opera house roof raiser, these few lines are enough for me.
Just like a million and one other songs “Miss Sarajevo” uses a vocal line to lift the song, but unlike the epic solos or vocal firework explosions of Buckley, Carey or Anas-bloody-stasia this still soars without frighteningly OTT wailing. Where the edited single edit version moves straight from Bono to Pavarotti with almost no pause, the full Original Soundtracks version leads us to him with a brief instrumental lull.
Trailing from Bono’s carefully juxtaposed lyrics comes the usual but still warmly received U2 sound of lapping waves of treated sounds, a chiming Edge guitar line, an unobtrusive rhythm and Eno’s melodic icing sugar plucked notes. Shivering Deserter’s Songs-strings climb before and glide through the performance following the vocal, while Eno happily plays with his little whirly gig box in the background.
I used to know what he was actually singing about, I tracked it down pre-babelfish software and recall being completely underwhelmed by the lyric as it was something about “children”, “rivers”, “hope” and “love”. Typical song bullshit stuff like that anyway. I seem to have genuinely forgotten it, or blocked it out and I don’t care or want to know. Whatever it is can’t be as powerful or as eloquent as the relief in the relaxing freefall of a vocalist’s performance that I don’t need the right side of my head to be aware of or get involved in the appreciation of. Not understanding more than two words of Italian means that Pavarotti’s verse contains all the magic that wordlessness brings. Like one of those looks, the laughter or lust in the barely perceivable movement in someone’s eyes or face this is a brainless, expressive and physical hit of pleasure. An intuitively emotional moment in a purposefully political song.
By: Scott McKeating
Published on: 2004-09-30