March 17, 2008
"Walk On" is a fabulous song, and it's one that I particularly love to include in U2charists. It's also a particularly good one to do live.
One of the best reasons to do it live, I think, is that recorded versions tend to be out of the vocal range of most people in most congregations. People who can sing the chorus almost always find the verses too low. And the few of those who don't find the verses too low find the bridge ("Home ... hard to say where it is if you've never had one"), which is even lower, absolutely impossible to sing. People can always drop things down or put things up an octave, but most people find it difficult to do several times in a single song.
However, if you do "Walk On" live, you can change the key to anything you like, and can even tweak the melody, as I often do to make it easier for congregations to sing.
But is it hard?
Nope. "Walk On" can be done with a total of four chords: D, A, G, and Em (the same chords as "Yahweh," incidentally). Capo it where you like to change the key easily.
Do you need fancy guitar effects?
Nope. U2 themselves were doing it acoustic -- just Edge and Bono -- on the Vertigo tour. I've got fancy guitar effects, and I almost never use them for this song; I go back to my acoustic guitar and play it through a nice, clean (simulated -- I use Guitar Rig 3 and keyboard amps) jazz or acoustic amp.
And I particularly love doing "Walk On" live as a closing hymn -- you can end the song with "Hallelujahs" as U2 do in "Walk On (the Hallelujah Mix)" and on the live DVDs from the Elevation tour, then have the guitarist or band keep playing the song softly while a service leader offers a brief spoken dismissal, and then have the band or guitarist go back up to full volume again and resume singing the "Hallelujahs." It ends the service on a distinctly high note, sometimes with people still singing hallelujah as they spill out the door and toward their cars or the bus or subway stop.
"Walk On" works in all kinds of places in the service -- I think the lyrics fit for absolutions as well, for example -- but the very end of the service is still my favorite place to put it for that reason. It's quite a community feeling singing those "hallelujahs" with a couple of hundred people while walking together from the site of the U2charist. It's a feeling I don't get in many other places - except for when crowds spill out of arenas still singing the chorus of "40" after a U2 concert.