What's in an album name? Innocence and Experience

U2

What's in an album's name? Songs of Innocence and Experience


Now that the dust has settled somewhat with the release of U2's Songs of Innocence, we can take the opportunity to ponder the album's title. 

What's in a name?

Where did it come from and what was the inspiration? Was it based on Bono's love of Star Wars trivia?

No, nor was it from his need to save money on the grocery bill.

A little bit of literary digging reveals the title to be a reference to William Blake's work, Songs of Innocence and Experience

What was this work about?

It was a collection of poems that reflected on how the state of childhood 'innocence' was influenced by the world cutting in on childhood as 'experience'.

These being influences such as corruption, oppression by religious movements, state domination and the machinations of the dominant classes.

So why is this relevant to U2?


Bono has centered several songs of the album's lyrics around growing up in Ireland.

He said in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine:

"We wanted to make a very personal album... Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys—first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually"

Iris is about the early loss of his mother.

 Cedarwood Road is about childhood friends that group up with Bono in the street.

The Miracle reflects the influence of the band that The Ramones had on them as young men and even This is Where You Can Find Me Now is an ode to The Clash's Joe Strummer - a man whose songs greatly inspired them.

Raised by Wolves covers a car bombing in Ireland that Bono personally felt close to - real world experiences creeping in as he and his band mates become men.

The effect of William Blake on Bono's song writing subjects has not been a recent observation. For a 1997 review of the 'Pop' album, poet Brendan Keneally noted when discussing that album's lyrics:

"We live in an age when sexuality and spirituality are usually treated as completely separate realities despite the fact that down through the ages some of the greatest poets and song-writers identified the presence of the one in the other. Think of Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience', D. H. Lawrence's poems, stories and novels, and some of W. B. Yeats's greatest poems."

Light and dark? She wore lemon, but never in the day light...

Interestingly, Bono was proclaimed the album was going to be called Songs of Ascent which I think was a reference to the Psalms of the Christian bible.

But that's not the half of it


The Joshua Tree album was originally intended to open with a track called "Beautiful Ghost".

Bono was to recite "Introduction to Songs of Experience" but the recording was dropped in favour of the album opening with Where the Streets have no name, a wise choice.

None-the-less it's clear Blake's writings have been on Bono's mind for some time.

In amongst the madness of the release of Songs of Innocence Bono revealed the existence of a second album U2 intended to release, Songs of Experience.

Released some 3 years after SOI, it acts as a direct companion album to Innocence - presumably in the same way the Grammy award wining Zooropa was a very close cousin to U2's career highlight, Achtung Baby.

Perhaps this second album will tell the kind of tales that Blake thought changed children - it would not be new territory for Bono. Indeed, the official word from U2 described the album's lyrical meaning as:

'While Songs of Innocence charted the band’s earliest influences and experiences in the late 1970s and early 80s, the new album is a collection of songs in the form of intimate letters to places and people close to the singer’s heart; family, friends, fans, himself

Check out the Songs of Innocence album on Amazon and the new single from Songs of Experience, You're The Best Thing About Me and the ripper of a track, The Blackout.

'You’re The Best Thing About Me ' U2 song lyrics

you're the best thing about me cover art and lyrics


U2's 'You’re The Best Thing About Me ' song lyrics from Songs of Experience


You’re The Best Thing About Me is from the Songs of Experience album. Officially, it was the first single to be released.

A song called Blackout was released as a live video earlier.

The blue cover art features the Edge's Daughter.

A remix on the song has been released. It's called "You're the Best Thing About Me (U2 Vs. Kygo)", Kygo being the remixer. This is a return to past U2 roots - as in the 1990's U2 were really into remixes - the Paul Oakenfold version of Even Better than the Real thing charted higher than the original! U2 have also released two other versions of the song, an acoustic version and a 'sci-fi soul mix' which is intended to be the preferred format for radio stations.

The lyrics meaning are almost cryptic. Bono said this about the song to Rolling Stone Magazine:

"We must resist surrendering to melancholy for only the most special moments. That's a long way to say check our new single out, "You're the Best Thing About Me," it's kind of like punk Supremes."

Poets eh?

'You’re The Best Thing About Me ' song lyrics by U2



When you look so good
The pain in your face doesn’t show
When you look so good
And baby, you don’t even know

When the world is ours
But the world is not your kind of thing
Full of shooting stars
Brighter as they’re vanishing

Oh, you’ve seen enough
To know it’s children who teach
You’re still free enough
To wake up on a bed or a beach

You’re the best thing about me
The best thing that ever happened
A boy
You’re the best thing about me
I’m the kind of trouble that you enjoy
You’re the best thing about me
The best things are easy to destroy
You’re the best thing about me
The best thing about me

I been crying out
How bad can a good time be
Shooting off my mouth
That’s another great thing about me

I have everything
But I feel like nothing at all
There’s no risky thing
For a man who’s determined to fall

You’re the best thing about me
The best thing that ever happened
A boy
You’re the best thing about me
I’m the kind of trouble that you enjoy
You’re the best thing about me
The best things are easy to destroy
You’re the best thing about me
Why am I walking away
Walking away
Why am I walking away

Edge sings this next verse:

I can see it all so clearly
I can see what you can’t see
I can see you lover her loudly
When she needs you quietly

And back to Bono:

You’re the best thing about me
The best things are easy to destroy
You’re the best thing about me
Why am I
Why am I walking away
Walking away
Why am I walking away

Here's the official U2 video of the song which features the band having a good time in New York.



Some other titles of songs mentioned by Bono for the Songs of Experience album include:
  1. The Little Things that give you away
  2. Red Flag Day
  3. The Showman (Much More Better)
  4. Summer of Love

Dear Bono, why is Everything I Know Wrong? What do you mean?



Dear Bono, why is everything I know wrong? or 10 Questions to ask Bono!


If I had some kind of miracle opportunity to sit down with U2's Bono I'm not sure where I'd start.

Perhaps we'd start with some red wine, I'd compliment him on his efforts to reduce third world debt and make a joke about George Bush or Trump.

I'd then hit him with these 10 questions about U2, their lyrics and get him to explain why he thinks everything I know is wrong.


10 Questions to ask Bono

  1. What does Salmon Rushie think of the almost surprise success of The Ground Beneath her Feet?
  2. Family is important. What's the most important song in the U2 catalog where the lyrics consider family? It's probably the whole of Songs of Innocence right?
  3. What is the worst lyric you have ever written that was recorded. Is it Salome?
  4. Discuss the lyric 'Dream Out Loud'. Why have you written it into three U2 songs?
  5. Do you ever hear 'lepers in your head'?
  6. If U2 had it's own version Fight Club, what would its rules be? And if anyone in the band had to be Robert Paulson, who would it be?
  7. When I was young and impressionable I had a poster on my wall that featured a Zoo TV concert and its said 'Every Thing You Know is Wrong'. To me as a 17 year old teenager that made perfect sense. As a thirty something with a mortgage, I wondering if should have paid more attention in English class. Bono, how do you know everything I know is wrong?
  8. Have you ever punched The Edge?
  9. Have you ever thrown up on stage?
  10. Does it amuse you that the remix of Even Better Then The Real Thing charted higher than the original version?

10 of U2's best songs about love

bono with bikini girls  u2

10 of U2's song lyrics about love

The Beatles sang that All You Need Is Love and just about every band since has as well so it's no surprise that U2 has sang a few songs that ponder the mystery and muscle of it all.

Here's a few songs that either feature the subject love in their lyrics or are clearly love songs or are romantically inclined.

Love is Blindness


A haunting tracking that closed the mighty body of work that was Achtung Baby - the lyrics suggest a quite desperate love where nothing else matters but that love - a deep play on the phrase love is blind but the neighbors aint joke perhaps?

Jack White did an amazing cover of the song.

When Love Comes to Town 


Some men are afraid of love. They'd prefer to hit it and quit before they have to contend with their feelings.

At least that's what this duet between Bono and B.B. King might leave you thinking....

Love Rescue Me


A desperate man calls out for love. It's an aching lovelorn fellow that sings this ballad from Rattle and Hum.

Love And Peace Or Else


A rocker from U2 from the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album, this is U2's Give Peace A Chance effort - it's basically Bono asking why can't we all just get along in peace and harmony with some peace loving mung beans thrown in for good measure.

Or something.

The deluxe edition of the album has a liner note which says 'don't become a monster in order to defeat a monster' which I think sums up the lyrical intent behind the song and it ties in with Bono's Coexist mantra

So really it's not a love song per say but one that promotes love?

So Cruel


Not all songs don't need to be of a happy kind of love.

So Cruel's lyrics tell of a person in love with a person that is breaking their heart with their thoughtless ways.

As I listen to the singer's lament, I can't help but feel some sorrow for them.

Hawkmoon 269


Allegedly 269 takes were required to record this song - the character seems to be a love drug addict and needs some love badly and Bono lists the ways he needs it.

Sweetest Thing


This U2 love song is definitely one inspired by real life events for Bono  - it was written for his wife Alison as an apology for missing (or forgetting) her birthday during the recording of The Joshua Tree record.

I wonder if Bono owed Alison another song after the featured picture of Bono above with the two bikini girls came out?

Originally featured as a U2 b-side on the Where the Streets Have No Name single, The Sweetest Thing was revamped and released as a single to support U2's first Greatest Hits album. Bono gave the rights to the song to his wife Alison who then used the royalties for charitable purposes.

One Love

A strident, upbeat love song that celebrates the characters's love for his woman - or indeed possibly love for his god.

That's a classic song writer's trick - making the lyrics open to interpretation helps increase the song's broad appeal amongst listeners.

The lyric "I was born I was born to be with you " is a nice romantic line to tell a woman - however the verse below is suggestive of praise to the character's creator..... 

"I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice
But to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to"


The first verse of this song suggests sentiments of falling in love for the first time or perhaps truly, madly, deeply falling for someone - the lyric "I have a lover, a lover like no other" suggests the later perhaps is true - indeed that line would be a great compliment to any woman (or man!).

The second verse refers to the love of a brother who would do anything for his sibling - the word brother could easily stand in for friend here as well.

The final verse talks of the love between a father and son that perhaps has gone sour.

Collectively these three different settings make for a great story and makes you wonder what kind of person is telling this story and how do those elements relate to one another?


A love song made famous by the Righteous Brothers, this was covered by U2 as a b-side on the With or Without You single. My wife and I played it at our wedding so enough said!

There plenty of other U2 songs out there that refer to love or sing about it without saying the words - what are your favorites?

Check out the lyrics to Ordinary Love by U2 as well.

Sick of love and lust? Want to bite your teeth into something more serious? How about some U2 songs's with lyrics about nuclear politics? or just America...

U2 songs with lyrics about War, Soldiers, Civilians and Civility

bono look look a like soldiers
I've got soul but I'm not a soldier

U2: War, Soldiers, Civilians and Civility


GNR once asked in a song 'what's so civil about war anyway?'

U2 seem to write songs with lyrics about war in some form or another on just about every album they've released.

Except for Boy, that album was just full of stories....ahem.

U2's lyrical references to war heated up with the release of U2 first truly 'popular' album War. Marking Bono's ascent into a true lyrical monster, War's songs features thoughts on soldiers shooting protesting civilians in Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Seconds reflects on terrorist actions in trying to set off atomic bombs (a theme U2 often turn to) in an supposed attempt to to cause nuclear war.

Maybe.

Maybe they just want us all to give peace a chance like John Lennon did.


Winter



A song probably taken from the No Line on the Horizon album recording sessions, Winter was used in the soundtrack for the Wim Wenders film. Brothers (U2 have a long association with Wim - he directed their video for Stay and Until the End of the World was used for the film of the same name).

Winter is about is a song about the experience of the armed forces in Afghanistan, where Winder's film is set.

The Unforgettable Fire


Inspired by paintings that were about the nuclear bombs that were dropped on the two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to effectively end Japan's involvement in World War II.

The Unforgettable Fire is not just a reflection not on war but the last effect the atomic bombs had on the people of Japan.

Bullet the Blue Sky


Arguably the most political song U2 has ever written, at least it's probably the most popular one! The lyrics are a savage indictment on American foreign policy.

Miss Sarejevo from Original Soundtracks Vol 1.

Miss Sarajevo contestent in bikini from U2 song
Please don't let them kill us...
When Bono asks if there's a time for East 17 (a boy band that everyone has now forgotten) during the Bonsnian War, you've gotta ask what he's talking about.

The song's lyrics actually praises the rebellious spirit of the Sarajevan people who refused to surrender their way of life during the conflict.

And what did they do? They staged a beauty contest.

Which clearly inspired the chorus of the song, "Here she comes, heads turn around, here she comes, to take her crown".

Please


If you could consider that the IRA's disgraceful and disgusting campaign against the people of Ireland was a civil war of sorts then Please is U2 exhorting Ireland's Political leaders to stop the civil war they had been waging.

Mothers of the Disappeared


lyrical expression of the suffering experienced by the mothers and grandmothers of the thousands of children abducted during the conflict in Central America during the late 1970s through to the mid 1980s, particularly during Argentina's so called "Dirty War" (1976-1983).

The Dirty war was a civil-style war that the American government covertly sanctioned in a bid to stop the 'communist threat' that was pervading at the time.

Given this song was written in the mid 80s one can see how it's a cousin of sorts to Bullet the Blue Sky - indeed both songs appeared on the Joshua Tree album.

Review of U2's Songs of Experience


U2's Songs of Experience album review


This album has been a long time coming. When Songs of Innocence 'fell out of the sky' from nowhere, Bono was quick to mention U2 had actually recorded two albums and would be releasing a companion album as a fast follower.

Well, no one listens to Bono so when he said it was coming in 2016, we knew he meant 2019 so it's with some listening pleasure we are reviewing Songs of Experience in late 2017.

And it is a  genuine companion album to Songs of Innocence by several means.

The inspiration is of course William Blake's book of poetry which casts life into the two groups of innocence and experience, the lyrics of Bono which are hugely introspective of his life (every song could be about himself or his wife) and by way of two songs taking musical cues from Volcano and Song for Someone from the first album.

So, here's our review on a track by track basis:

Love is all we have left


A mild opening track which sets a sombre tone for the album. Atmospheric and it largely works except for the ridiculous vocal manipulation done midway through. Could not be more of a different album opener than Discotheque if you tried. There's clearly going to be no tounge in cheek or village people on album.

Woah, a bomb track straight off the board. Bland, uninspiring, how the heck did this song get through the band's internal vetting processes?

The first single, and a great U2 track. A zippy chorus that gets better and better with each listen. This song is kind of almost by-the-numbers single but U2 has always had better numbers than any band.  It's comparable to Magnificent from No Line on the Horizon in that sense.

Get Out of Your Own Way


Another single, that promises much when it evokes the opening of Where The Streets Have No Name but doesn't get quite to that level of glory. A firm track to back up the first single and a real grower with each listen.

The one with Kendrick Lamar marshaling comment on rich people and maybe Donald Trump. Another American love letter from the band to America. They sure do write a lot about the US of A!

The chorus is a direct lift from Songs of Innocence's Volcano and easily improves on what was a weak track from that album.

Another stray from the rescue home. Could have done with a bit more TLC before being released back into the wild. Has a nice melody.

Now we are talking. The first genuinely brilliant song with a chorus hook to die for. A classic song in the sense that it's a upbeat song where the lyrics focus on the utterly depressing subject of Syrian refugees. The structure and feel also harks back to very early U2 tracks found on Boy and War. Excellent drumming. 

The Showman (Little More Better) 


If ever U2 were ever to write a proper Irish song that could be song across pubs around the world when the punters are up for a tune, this is it. 

This one of the best songs U2 have written in a decade. With a wonderful melody and a sing along chorus to die for. 10 out of 10. Instantly goes into my top 5 U2 songs.

Would have loved to have seen how this would have gone as the first or second single released.

Reminds me of a glorious pop song of the sixties that I just can't recall. 

A love ballad in pace, with lyrics that seem to be about Bono reflecting on his past life. The way Bono sings it is almost confessional. A potential live favourite. 

Landlady

A clear love note from Bono to his wife Ali. Slow and plodding but builds nicely. 

The rocker song on the album, this has STADIUM written all over it. A filthy base line from Adam Clayton and his best in many an album. Strong echoes of Achtung Baby and Zoo Station. 

A filler track, but better than Lights of Home. Like many tracks on this album, a slow starter that land quite well at the end. 

The most beautifully haunting song on this album. Borrowing heavily from the wonderful Song for Someone this is U2's equivalent of Metallica's Unforgiven II.

Simply superb and it continues U2's song tradition of really good album closing tracks. 

Review Summary

U2 will never record another Achtung Baby but we can still expect them to record cracker songs and a handful of those have been delivered with this album.

A genuine surprise that the Lights of Home is so genuinely bad but that can be quickly over looked by the big singles and sing-a-long tracks that far outweigh any complaints.

Despite Bono's rhetoric' about American President Donald Trump being the basis for a lyrical rewrite on many songs, the effect is negligible - maybe there's a dig about him as a dinosaur in The Blackout and a bit of a sledge in American Soul but that would be about it. 

A strong effort from U2 and they should be proud that they have made a true companion album.

Many bands are afraid to try new things so as to not upset the gravy train but yet again the biggest band in the world has got their hands dirty.  

"Get Out Of Your Own Way" lyrics by U2

"Get Out Of Your Own Way" song lyrics by U2


Found on the Songs of Experience album, Bono said of the lyrics "I've tried to use some biting irony to reflect the anger out on the streets."

The official video was recorded in Mexico City. Kendrick Lamar has a spoken word cameo at the end of the song which serves as the introduction to American Soul.

U2's 'Get Out Of Your Own Way' lyrics



Get out of your own way. Hey ay
Get out of your own way. Hey ha

Love hurts
Now you've look out, whose left with no words ?
Your hearts a balloon but then it bursts
It doesn't take a cannon just a pin
Your skin's recovering

And resistance
Love has got to fight for its existence
The enemy has armies for assistance
The amorist, the glamorous, the kiss
A fist, listen to this, oh
Get out of your own way. Hey oh
Get out of your own way. Hey ha

I could sing it to ya all night, all night
If I could, I'd make it alright, alright
Nothing's stopping you except what's inside
I can help you, but it's your fight, your fight.

Fight back, don't take it lying down you've got to bite back

The face of liberty is starting to crack
She had a plan until she got a smack in the mouth and it all went south like freedom. 

The slaves are looking for someone to lead 'em
The master's looking for someone to need him.
The promised land is there for those who need it most and Lincoln's ghost says

Get out of your own way. Oh uh
Get out of your own way. Oh Uh

Your fight, your fight!

I could sing it to ya all night, all night
If I could, I'd make it alright, alright
Nothing's stopping you except what's inside
I can help you, but it's your fight, your fight

Get out of your own way.
Get out of your own way.

Edge does a mini solo.

Get out of your own way.
Get out of your own way.
Get out of your own way.

Kendrick Lamar's cameo part:

Blessed are the arrogant who dares the kingdom of their own company
Blessed are the superstars for the magnificence in their light, we understand better our own insignificance
Blessed are the filthy rich, for you can only truly own what you give away, like your pain...

u2 band

13 (There Is A Light) song lyrics by U2

' 13 (There Is A Light) ' song lyrics by U2

The final track and thirteenth track on Songs of Experience, 13 (There Is A Light) is apparently written by Bono with his sons in mind.

It is a direct call back to Song for Someone which was a key single from Songs of Innocence. The band has taken the melody and a key lyric (there is a light) and used it as a fine ending to the album.

There is a Light song lyrics:


And if the terrace of the night
Come creeping into your days
And the world comes steeling children from your room
Got your innocence from hallucination
I know that darkness always gathers around the light

If there is a light
We can't always see
And there is a world
We can't always be
If there is a dark
Now we shouldn't doubt
And there is a light
Don't let it go out

When the wind screams and shouts
And the sea is a dragon's tail
And the ship that stole your heart away
Sets sail

When all you've left is leaving
And all you got is grieving
And all you know is needing

If there is a light
We can't always see
And there is a world
We can't always be
If there is a dark
Now we shouldn't doubt
And there is a light
Don't let it go out

'Cause this is a song
A song for someone
Someone like me

I know the world is done
But you don't have to be
I've got a question for the child in you before it leaves
Are you tough enough to be kind?
Do you know your heart has its own mind?
Darkness gathers around the light
Hold on
Hold on

There is a light
We can't always see
If there is a world
We can't always be
If there is a dark
That we shouldn't doubt
And there is a light
Don't let it go out

And this is a song
A song for someone
This is a song
A song for someone
Someone like me
Someone like me
Someone like me

It is not a cover of the Smiths' song, There Is A Light, That Never Goes Out

Landlady song lyrics by U2

Landlady lyrics by U2

'Landlady' song lyrics by U2


Landlady is a song on U2's Songs of Experience.

The Landlady Bono is referring to is most likely his with Ali.

It would seem that several songs are inspired by here - as given this is an album about experiences, many pivotal moments in Bono's live are with her but as usual all songs are open to interpretation.

Landlady lyrics


Roam, the phone is where I live till I get home
And when the doorbell rings you tell me that I have a key
I ask you how you know it's me
The road, no road without a turn and if there was
The road would be too long
What keeps us standing in this view
Is the view that we can be brand new

Landlady takes me up in the air
I go, I go where I would not dare
Landlady shows me the stars up there
I'm weightless, weightless when she is there
And I'll never know, never know what starving poets meant
Cos' when I was broke, it was you that always paid the rent

Space, her place is where I found my parking space
And when I'm losing ground, you know she gives it back to me
She whispers don't do just be

Landlady takes me up in the air
I go, I go where I would not dare
Landlady shows me the stars up there
I'm weightless, weightless when she is there
And I'll never know, never know what starving poets meant
Cos' when I was broke, it was you that always paid the rent

Every wave that broke me
Every song that wrote me
Every dawn that woke me
Was to get me home to you to see
Every soul that left me
Every heart that kept me
The strangers that protected me
To bring me back to you
Every magic potion
Every false emotion
I was swerving our devotion
To the lies we know are almost true
Every sweet confusion
Every grand illusion
I will win and call it losing
If the prize is not for you

Check out Book of Your Heart's lyrics which was a bonus track from the Songs of Experience album.

Book Of Your Heart lyrics by U2

U2's 'The Book Of Your Heart' lyrics from Songs of Experience

U2's 'Book Of Your Heart' lyrics from Songs of Experience (Deluxe Version)

Bono said of the song's meaning "Yeats has this phrase, he says he 'desires a poetry as cold and as passionate as the dawn', and I wanted to write about the cold passion of great relationships.... It's about the knowingness that you need to help get your partner through their life, and vice versa."

Lyrics:

Right at the start
You put this into words
How you think we should proceed, yeah

You wanted me alone
With the pictures that you've seen
Of where you haven't been
But where you want to go

Ask the leaf and ask the bird
Not to sing or speak a word
We are not fictitious characters
But we don't belong to this world

The book, the book of your heart
One tiny mark, an entry
In the book of your heart
It's written on skin
To even be in
The book of your heart

You can change your name, or even who you are
That's the beauty of the scar
That is the contract of the heart
This is our wedding day
This is the promise that we'll stay
Through the long descriptive passages
Where we don't know what to say

This song is only available as part of the deluxe version of the Songs of Experience album.