I write this on a dreary, rainy morning, which I think is a little like Exit. Written in one take, on the last day of recording, the song is dreary, haunting, and reeks of desperation. I’ve read that the song saps Bono of energy on stage and was a difficult song to sing live. In fact, the song was part of the Rattle and Hum tour set list, but has since only been played live one other time.
Is it about murder, suicide? From what I’ve read, even the band can’t articulate the meaning. Too punctuate the melancholy, a dude out west stalked a little known television actress and eventually killed her. At the trial, a clever lawyer pitched insanity and cited this song as a catalyst for the murder. Legend has it, Exit was played during the trial, and the dude laughed and danced during it’s playing.
The song is driven by the base line, and Larry and Adam, pound there way through it. Edge is little to be found, but as always, Bono’s voice lyrically throbs on. I suppose the producers allowed the boys this raw one and I suspect the track was not on the first list of songs on the album.
Of all things the Joshua Tree album was; for me, I think, a lot of the album was about exploration. U2 was very close to being a big band before this album, and I think most was agree, this was the album that shot them into the big time. This song’s imperfection fits the exploration motif, and in my head, it was a rainy day, the boys were tired, yet had some juice left, and the smart ones behind the glass with the buttons and dials, let them play.