The Real Meaning of 5 U2 Song Lyrics

u2-performing-live


The Real Meaning of 5 U2 Song Lyrics





A classic rock song, can say anything and mean everything.

Look at Oasis's Wonderwall lyrics for example. It's basically a love song but without really actually meaning anything.

To my mind, a really good song is one which has hidden depths - and those depths can usually be found in the lyrics and often in U2 songs.

 Here's 5 U2 song lyrics that have some real meaning, and some real bite to them.

God Part II

People often wonder why this song is called Pt II as they've never heard of a U2 song called God before. It's actually intended as a sequel to John Lennon's song called God.

Lennon's song refers to things he didn't believe in such as Hitler - Bono's version also refers to things that he also doesn't believe in but also goes on to refer to how pissed he was at the author Albert Goldman who wrote an unflattering biography of Lennon (and also a bio of Elvis, and given U2's love of Elvis, I'm not surprised Bono made the reference).

Sunday Bloody Sunday 

This one is a pretty obvious song, but newer U2 fans may not realise the real meaning of this song.

It's an exploration of the conflict that can exist between the State, it's people and when religion gets thrown into the mix.

Inspired by two terrible occasions where soldiers shot civilians in Northen Ireland - the lyrics capture these moments crisply by invoking the cross fire that occurred between Ireland's conflicting religions and the military action that was taken - and by extension the State's role in the massacres.

Walk On

This is one of those songs that stray into the say anything, mean anything territory but U2 have but some real context around it to to ensure that it's lyrics are not misunderstood.

Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, this song is a freedom song, dedicated to the exponent of democracy and freedom in Mynamar.

Poignantly during the 360 degree tour, U2 played this song at every concert and had supporters of Amnesty International come out on to the stage to show their support for Aung San Suu Kyi and U2's support for the people of Mynammar and their efforts to become a truly democratic society.

Spanish Eyes

Despite stealing lyrics from "She's a rainbow" by the Rolling Stones, Spanish Eyes is a love song to Bono's wife Ali - and she is actually Irish thus confusing the heck out of many U2 fans.

This b-side from The Joshua Tree era kind of complements The Sweetest Thing in the sense that it was also a b-side and also a love letter to Ali.

Zooropa

Zooropa is a really crazy song that opens the album of the same name.

Some fans have been confused by the lyrics of the song - they seem so mumble jumbled and make no sense.

The real meaning of the song can be determined when you realise the lyrics are a hodge podge of slogans from famous brands.

Zooropa's lyrics have a running theme of irony, tying in the "media overload" themes of the Zoo TV Tour into the context of a post-Berlin Wall Europe.

The song's lyrics touch on how modern technology can unite people as well as separates  them from each other.

Want more? check out U2 lyrics that explore Jesus, Yahweh and The Good Book.

'Instrument Flying' song lyrics by U2

'Instrument Flying' song lyrics by U2 from the Songs of Experience album

This is a rumoured title for a new U2 track. Well it's not so much of a rumour, it exists as recorded song. This was confirmed by The Edge and Adam in a recent magazine article as being a thing. 

Is not however confirmed if the 'Instruments Flying' song will make the final cut and appear on U2's next album, Songs of Experience.

Other rumored new U2 songs include, Civilisation, Much More Better and the curiously titled The Little Things That Give You Away.

'Civilization' song lyrics by U2 from the Songs of Experience album


'Civilization' song lyrics by U2 from the Songs of Experience album

'Civilization' song lyrics by U2 from the Songs of Experience album

This is a rumoured title for a new U2 track. Well it's not so much of a rumour, it exists as recorded song. This was confirmed by The Edge and Adam in a recent magazine article. 

What is not confirmed is if 'Civilisation' will make the final cut and appear on U2's next album, Songs of Experience.

'Much More Better' song lyrics by U2

'Much More Better' song lyrics by U2 from the Songs of Experience album

This is a rumoured title for a new U2 song. Well it's not so much of a rumour, it exists as a song title. This was confirmed by The Edge and Adam in a magazine article. What is not confirmed is if 'Much More Better' will make the final cut on U2's next album. 

10 of U2's best songs about love

bono with bikini girls

All You Need Is Love - 10 of U2's songs 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 have song 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.

Love is Blindness

A haunting tracking that closed the mighty body of work that was Achtung Baby - the lyrics suggest an quite desperate love where nothing else matters but that love - a deep play on the phrase love is blind but the neighbours 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 love lorn 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

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?

How many number ones has U2 had?

U2 live - number one songs

How many number one songs have U2 had?


The short version: UK 7 and US 2

The long version:

U2 have had all kinds of hits on the music charts but at the end of the day it’s the songs that made number one on those charts that are often the ones asked about as questions in pub quizzes.

So to help you out, here’s a list or two of U2 songs that have made number one.

There are various kinds of charts that track song popularity and they often revolve around rock, country and blues and are used to allow music that would never be mainstream get some air time. There’s even the itunes charts which for some unexplained reason people seem to think matters… but the truth is digital sales are the the only way sales of singles occur these days.

When was the last time you physically purchased a U2 single?

Two my mind there are only two charts that really count. Being ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK means you are number one and crowning the Billboard 200 means you have the most popular song for the week in America.

And we’ll use those charts to show how many number on hits U2 have had.

First up is the America Billboard chart which shows the U2 have had two number one hits. Both hits were from The Joshua Tree and were With or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Desire from Rattle and Hum made it as high as 3 and a couple of singles from Achtung Baby and Pop made the top 10 and that’s it.

So, U2 have only had 2 number one American hits.

It’s a better story for the UK chart where U2 have had a bit more success in terms of chart toppers.

Nothing from The Joshua Tree went to number one despite the album’s massive success so it was Desire that became U2’s first UK number one hit. It came from Rattle and Hum. In 1991 when The Fly flew off as the lead single from Achtung Baby it landed at number 1.

It was a long time between drinks when Discotheque dropped in 1997.

U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind had a string of popular singles but only Beautiful Day in 2000 managed the top spot.

A debatable number one is Take Me to the Clouds Above" by LMC vs. U2. Debatable as it was a song featuring samples from U2's With or Without You with a health splash of Whitney Houston thrown in. At the end of the day, the song has U2’s name in the space where the artist’s name goes so it counts as a number one.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb offered a notable double with both Vertigo and Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own grabbing their time in the top position.

'No Line on the Horizon' suffered from a lack of hit singles. Such a shame, the album had some good songs.

This means U2 have had seven number one hits in the UK and two in the United States. Unsurprisingly, U2 are even more popular in their home country of Ireland and owned the number one place an awesome 21 times.

That's right in Ireland, U2 have had 21 number one singles.

U2 also seems to do fairly well in Canada.

A really interesting number one is The Joshua Tree's song, One Tree Hill. It was written in memory of Greg Carrol, a friend of U2 who died while working for them. Carrol was a New Zealander so U2 decided to release the single only in New Zealand where it went to one, become U2's first number one there.

When U2 play NZ, they play that song every time and rarely play it outside of NZ but they did for the 30th Anniversary of the The Joshua Tree.

List of U2’s UK number one songs:

The Joshua Tree album lyrics by U2



The Joshua Tree album lyrics


The follow up to the well received The Unforgettable Fire made U2 globally famous and delivered some of the best songs that the 80's could muster.

The Joshua Tree's lyrics delved into the politics of the US Government, heroin addition, love, spirituality and other social issues.

Can you believe it's been thirty years since the album was released? U2 have announced a new tour to celebrate the album!

The Joshua Tree lyrics:

1. "Where the Streets Have No Name"
2. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
3. "With or Without You"
4. "Bullet the Blue Sky"
5. "Running to Stand Still"
6. "Red Hill Mining Town"
7. "In God's Country"
8. "Trip Through Your Wires"
9. "One Tree Hill"
10. "Exit"
11. "Mothers of the Disappeared"

The Joshua Tree sold over 30 million albums and the songs With Or Without and Where the Streets Have No Name are played at every single concert as the fans have been known to riot if they are not played!

The Joshua Tree recording sessions also produced some pretty sweet B-sides such Silver and Gold and Sweetest Thing (The Single Mix).

Fun (sad) fact: One Tree Hill is only ever really played in NZ as a tribute to Greg Caroll, a friend of U2 who as killed while employed by U2.

When U2 played it in Auckland in 2010 it was dedicated to the miners of  the Pike River Mine Disaster.

U2: 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.

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 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.

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 have been waging.

Mothers of the Disappeared is a 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.

War album lyrics by U2

War album Cover

War album lyrics by U2


War was U2's third album  and could be considered their 'breakthrough' recording.

Featuring the big hit of Sunday Bloody Sunday, the album signalled a new change in U2's song subject matter - pushing aside some of the more earnest spiritual side of Boy and October, War's lyrics were more politically charged.

The song 'Seconds' was focussed on Bono's concerns about nuclear arms.

War Lyrics:

1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
10. "40"

A left over from the War recording sessions was the song, Angels Too Tied To The Ground

War was produced by Steve Lillywhite and was U2's first number one album in the UK, knocking off Michael Jackson's Thriller of the chart's top spot.

U2 songs with 'angels' in the lyrics


What U2 songs feature 'angels' in the lyrics?


What's an angel?

Some see them as messengers of God. Others may see them as mystical creatures who look out for Earth dwellers.

Some say everybody has a guardian angel.

So what of U2 and their lyrical references to these winged entites?

What does Bono think of their place in the world?

Angel of Harlem


We should start with an obvious one, Angel of Harlem. Featuring a wicked guitar rhythm, the song is U2's homage to the jazz legend that was Billie Holiday.

She is the Lady Day the song refers to and her spirit is considered to be the Angel of Harlem.

If God will send his angels


Probably the most obvious song for the point of this essay.

One of the few truly good U2 songs from the Pop album, the song was made popular by being on the soundtrack to the City of Angels film that starred Nic Cage and Meg Ryan.

This film was a remake of sorts of a Wim Wenders film - which U2 trainspotters may note that Wim is a great fan and friend of U2 and several of their songs have graced the soundtrack to his movies. 

Stay (Faraway, So Close!


Speaking of Wim Wenders, Stay was used in the Wenders film Faraway, So Close!

Originally intended to be a song for Frank Sinatra, Stay features one of the best lyrics Bono has ever written which us sued to some up the story being told in the song "Just the bang and the clatter as an angel runs to ground".

Wim Wenders also directed U2's promotional video for the song.

Wim used ideas from his movies to tell the story of U2's members acting as guardian angels over the band who were actually performing the song in the video.

Bullet the Blue Sky


The classic track from The Joshua Tree album, it is a discussion of dirty American politics at play.

Featuring the line "Jacob wrestles the angel but the angel was overcome" this is a reference to Genesis from the Christian Bible. At that time Jacob was said to have actually met an angel of God.

The lyric seems to be suggesting that the conflicts Bono is sing about, such as war in El Salavador are beat out God.

It's almost the classic, if God exists, why is there evil in the world argument.

There are some other songs too - Deep in the HeartTrip through your wires and Oh, Berlin which was found in the vaults an released as part of the Achtung Baby re-issue.

Finally, while the word angel does not appear in Lucifer's Hands  Lucifer himself is said to be a fallen angel. The song is found on the deluxe version of Songs of Innocence.