May 272021

Driving home after a wonderful anniversary dinner tonight, U2’s “New Year’s Day” came on the radio.

“There are enough U2 songs I like.” I said to my disinterested wife, “I wish this one would go away.”

She is expert in tuning me out when I go on such tangents, so I continued my conversation in my head.

“Why do you particularly dislike this song?” I asked.

“It’s nothing but the overly emotive crap that I can’t stand about Bono,” I said. Then I added, “And he ruins it right out of the gates with an unnecessary banshee wail.”

Bono has had more space to emote than any person in earth. He does a pleading banshee wail on every U2 song. Did he really need to start this one with a pleading banshee wail?

Then “we” (is, I and I) got to talking. Beside The Stooges’ “Loose,” does any song warrant opening with a banshee wail?

I don’t think Daltry, Lennon, Jim Morrison, or PJ Harvey, some of rock’s best wailers, opened a song with a banshee wail. I could be wrong.


  24 Responses to “Beside “Loose,” Does Any Song Warrant Opening With a Banshee Wail?”

  1. Whaaaow!, I Feel Good. James Brown. Probably just one of many scream openings from him.

  2. trigmogigmo

    I thought it was John on the distorted version of “Revolution” but apparently it’s Paul.

  3. Oh man, how did I forget “Revolution,” the second-greatest song in the history of rock ‘n roll? Yes, THAT song warrants a banshee wail at the start.

    Chickenfrank, I find James Brown’s long line of opening screams and grunts slightly different from the banshee wail – yet wholly appropriate to his songs.

    Maybe there are more of these opening banshee wails that work than I was thinking and that this whole thread was really about calling out Bono for being…Too Much Bono.

  4. Just for the record, I have no issues whatsoever with “New Year’s Day”. Love it. It hit the airwaves during my senior year of high school, around the same time MTV started to become a thing. My best friend and I spent many an evening in Harrisburg, hanging with one of our like minded souls fortunate enough to have a parent who forked for a cable package that included MTV. We’d gab about music, clothes, girls, etc. and wait for our favorites: the Pretenders (“Brass in Pocket”), the Jam (“Absolute Beginners”), and yes, U2’s “New Year’s Day”. Don’t know who directed the clip, but he/she, at some point or another, had certainly seen and enjoyed the performances of “I Need You” and “Ticket to Ride” from Help. The borrowed atmosphere for “New Year’s Day” was pretty obvious, and we found the tilt of the hat to the Beatles very cool indeed.

    Around the same time, we drove to Philly to see U2 at the Tower. Skipped school, spent much of the day on South Street (when it was still a decent freak show), got to the concert a little late, pushed our way up to the front of the stage, and watched Bono act like a total rock god: climbing on top of the amps, swinging the mike around, and yes, wailing like a banshee. Hands down one of the best days of my high school years. Absolutely glorious.

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    I must admit, the first “banshee wail” song that popped into my head was this one. I urge Mr. Moderator to stick around until the 2:10 mark to see the big reveal. Now THAT’s mach schau! Why have I never seen this look on you before? Instead, what did we get back in the day — the Mr. Mod “floppy hat”? Come ON!

  6. Happiness Stan

    Robert Plant walks into a bar and spots David Johansen.

    “Oh man”, he says, “I really dig that thing you do on Personality Crisis”.

    Johansen looks up and hides his awe in the presence of bronzed rock deity ‘neath a shrug of polite greeting and well practiced insouciance.

    “Cheers, man. I got the idea from Immigrant Song”.

    “Hey, that’s groovy. What do you think of Bono’s wailing on New Year’s Day?”

    “Oh man, I dunno. That would mean listening to it again”.

    “Yeah, man, I know what you mean. Bottoms up, then”.

  7. Classic performance – and pants – by Prince, on one of the few songs of his that I like without reservation. Not an opening banshee wail contender, however. I love a good banshee wail mid-song! (I had such high hopes for my leather floppy hat. It didn’t work. And you’re right, back then I had the ass for that Prince ensemble. Missed opportunity.)

    Happiness Stan, you hit the nail on the head.

    And who woulda thunk EPG dug “New Year’s Day”? Perhaps seeing this more open, passionate side of him is the unexpected side benefit of this thread.

  8. In a parallel universe, Plurbs and I are driving around in my Gran Torino sharing a 40 ounce Miller High Life. Radio is locked on WMMR as we sing along to New Year’s Day and Wish You Were Here. Our mullets look good.

  9. Bring it on chickenfrank! I too am a fan “Wish You Were Here”, a big fan, as a matter of fact. And hopefully the 40 ounce Miller High Life will give Clint the courage to change parties and help us mow down as many Republicans as possible. Honestly, do you believe those assholes? They make the devil look like George Bailey.

  10. Right on! By the way, my reference to Gran Torino wasn’t meant to invoke Clint’s heavy-handed, “Hey I’m not a racist cause I’ll admit there are “some” examples of good minorities” movie. It was a reference to my actual red Gran Torino I owned in high school. It was a hand-me-down on it’s very last legs, but a dead ringer for the one in Starsky & Hutch. Rock!

    I’m glad I have an ally in my Wish You Were Here love.

    Republicans < Satan.

  11. Referencing Clint,you just made my day! And as far as “Wish You Were Here” is concerned, it’s one of those songs that I never tire of hearing. Like Elton John’s “Daniel”, it never fails to turn me into a wreck every time I hear it.

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    I’ve seen a lot of strange things on RTH, but a Pink Floyd reach-around between Gergley and Chickenfrank sets a new benchmark.

  13. Happiness Stan

    Another Wish You Were Here ally here, too.

    EPG, I’d never have had you down as such a big softie. You’ll be admitting to sharing my appreciation of Terry Jacks before long if you’re not careful.

    Here are two more, wherein Steve and Andy from the Sweet and whoever T Rex consisted of other than Bolan at the time set out their stall as far as wailing goes and don’t let up until the fat glam rocker stops singing.


    And, possibly the greatest relentless wailing of all, 20th Century Boy

  14. cherguevara

    What about songs that would be improved by adding an opening scream, like “Logical Song,” or “Wonderful Tonight?”

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Cher, that made me straight up, legit LOL. Brrrrravolingus!

  16. The Flo and Eddie background vocals on those T Rex records are really effective. They are perfectly in tune, high as hell, slick, and yet, distractingly recognizable as being those two weird looking guys. But, damn, they just seem to make those songs.

  17. Happiness Stan

    Geo, I had no idea that was Flo and Eddie!

    Cher, comment of the day, brilliant!

  18. BigSteve

    I dig WYWG as well, and I generally take a dim view of any and all Pink Floyd post-1971 or so. I saw a video of Gilmour playing it in concert recently and said to myself “oh wow that’s how you play those chords!” It’s fun to play, and harder to sing that you might think. The meta stuff on the album version is the kind of Floydian shit I can do without.

  19. BigSteve

    That’s WYWH. Sorry.

  20. HVB, Why wouldn’t Gergley and I agree? We’re just two assholes swimming in a fishbowl year after year.

    Steve, this must be the video you referenced, right? It’s practically a guitar instructional with the close ups.

  21. BigSteve

    Yes that’s the one. It’s holding the G and D down for a drone on the high strings that was the key.

  22. Wait, is NOT liking Wish You Were Here a “thing” now? Who doesn’t like that song? And I’m not talking about the fade into the windy sound effects, or singling out a specific line about fishbowl. Who doesn’t like the song itself? I know this originally came up when we were nit picking but this really feels like one of those “much easier to tear something down than build something up” kind of things. This is on the list of perfect songs and might be on the list of Songs That Should Never Be Covered.

  23. hrrundivbakshi

    Meh. WWYWH is boring. And the fact that I’ve probably heard it a million times, but couldn’t tell you what it was about if I had a red hot poker up my ass should tell you something.

  24. 2000 Man

    Man, I read that headline wrong. I thought it was “Does any other Warrant song start with a scream.” My first thought was, “How could anyone possibly know?”

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