Morning Music: The Edge

The EdgeToday, we come to the guitarist I was most thinking of when I started the week talking about guitarists who were focused on sound: David Howell Evans — better known as The Edge of the band U2. I’m not a huge fan of the band or even of The Edge as a guitarist. But he is a great guitarist and he is an even greater sculptor of sound. I think of him as the Brian Eno of the guitar.

What we have here is a collection of featured guitar parts from him on eleven different U2 songs. As I’ve noted, I’m not at home, so I’m not going to the trouble of making sure the following list is correct. But of the songs I know, it is right:

  1. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  2. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  3. New Year’s Day
  4. Bullet the Blue Sky
  5. Until the End of The World
  6. The Fly
  7. Mysterious Ways
  8. Love Is Blindness
  9. Please
  10. Miracle Drug
  11. Unknown Caller

It’s pretty amazing stuff. At the same time, it isn’t really my kind of stuff. I’m not that into sound. But I greatly admire it. And The Edge has been enormously influential. There are now two generations of guitarists who his thinking totally dominates. It’s pretty amazing, especially coming from such an unassuming fellow.


I just found this article, The Top 5: Overrated Guitarists. It contained this, “Most sensible critics see the iconic U2 guitarist for what he is: a great sonic pioneer who turned out to be the perfect receptacle for Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ sonic experimentation.” I had never really thought much about the guy, so I was pleased to hear that my take on him was actually widely shared.

2 thoughts on “Morning Music: The Edge

  1. Maybe the clips for this week’s MM aren’t the most eye-opening, but they work. And what The Edge does is very impressive. For one thing, it’s studio chicanery he can recreate live. I’ve seen U2 live, once, and it’s amazing how he makes the guitar parts sound just as layered as they do on the record.

    (In my defense, somebody else bought the ticket for me, and I left halfway through the show. I did fall in love with PJ Harvey as the opening act, though!)

    For another thing, Edge (and maybe the bass player) are the really only distinctive aspects about U2. I really believe Bono could be interchanged with any other decent vocalist — although maybe it was his savvy promotional instincts that took the band where they wanted to go.

    I liked that guitar-nerd link. Serious guitar nerds are a different breed. I remember, when I used to work graveyard at convenience stores, my favorite night of the week was when all the magazines came in, and I read all the nerd ones. The car nerd ones, the fishing/shooting nerd ones, the guitar nerd ones. I guarantee you they were much better than “US News & World Report”! Passionate technical writing is better than professional disinterested writing.

    And one of those guitar-nerd magazines turned me onto Prince (who has a very distinctive sound), so that was a good thing.

    I loved this aside from the guitar-nerd site: “Super fans it’s okay to love your favourite band. It’s cool to think they’re the best in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have the best singer, guitarist, drummer, caterer, and florist in music history.”

    • I’ve been pretty impressed with music journalism over the years. It’s far better than film journalism. People who write about music usually do understand it. That’s always been true of classical music, but most of my life it’s been true of pop music too. Lester Bangs and his ilk really set the bar high.

      As for the week, I wish I had just made it about electric guitarists I like.

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