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.






U2 songs that name check real people

U2 as lego blocks!

U2 songs that reference real people


Here's a few songs where Bono was named checked real people in his song lyrics.

There's also a few songs where the lyrics a talking about a real person but they are not directly named.

Angel of Harlem

A song about singer Billie Holiday, Bono was trying to throw the kitchen sink at this song, referencing all kinds of musical figures including John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

One Tree Hill

Bono name dropped Victor Jara in this song that is really popular in NZ for some reason.....

"And in our world a heart of darknessA firezone where poets speak their hearts
Then bleed for it Jara sang his song a weapon
In the hands of love
You know his blood still cries from the ground"

This verse is referring to how Victor Jara was executed for his political disssent and thus became a symbol of the struggle for human rights.

Elvis Ate America

This is possibly the U2 lyric that refers to the most people Lisa Marie Presley Chuck D, Johnny Cash all feature with shout outs to Hitler, Nixon, Christ, Mishima, Markus and Micheal Jackson.

Bono would later refer to Michael Jackson in Pop's The Playboy Mansion as well.

God Part II

This song was intended as a sequel to John Lennon's song called God.

Lennon's song refers to things he didn't believe in such as war and The Beatles.

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

Pride

"For the Reverend Martin Luther King, sing". Pride was inspired the the civil rights activist - that particular line comes from the live version of Pride on Rattle and Hum.

Stand Up Comedy 

References the famous French soldier Napoleon and his wife Josephine.

Peace on Earth

Inspired by the Real IRA Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland on 15 August 1998. The song lists the names of people killed in the bombing. Similarly, inspiration for the lyric, "She never got to say goodbye / To see the colour in his eye / Now he's in the dirt" comes from the funeral of Barker, another victim of the bombing. Other bomb victims named were Sean, Julia, Gareth, Anne, and Brenda.

Dirty Day

Whilst not directly referenced but the liner notes of Zooropa showed the song was dedicated to Charles Bukowski.

Who have I missed?

U2 song lyrics that reference Elvis

U2 songs lyrics that reference Elvis


U2 songs lyrics that reference Elvis



Elvis was the King (kind of the same as Eric Clapton is God but better) - and kings leave a long line of history and influence so it's no surprise that U2 have either referenced Elvis in a couple of their songs or done a cover of a song he made famous!


Elvis Ate America



A song from Passengers that is was almost an Elvis rant - but it did deliver the classic Bono lyric, 'Elvis would have been a sissy without Johnny Cash' which, to my mind, seems true! He also called him a white nigger.


A Room at the Heart Break Hotel



Whilst not specifically about Elvis, the song is a direct reference to Heartbreak Hotel - a song which Elvis famously sang about.

Fans of the Rattle and Hum album might be interested to know that U2 recorded song tracks for for the album at Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis famously recorded. Room at the Heartbreak Hotel was a b-side to Angel of Harlem  single from Rattle and Hum.

Elvis Presley and America


Apparently this was a letter of sorts from Bono to Lisa Marie, Elvis's daughter.

Unchained Melody


Dare I put this here as it's simply a famous Elvis cover song? Yip - but it's a famous one!

Can't help falling in Love


Another sweet cover of the King.

'The Little Things That Give You Away' song lyrics by U2

'The Little Things That Give You Away' song lyrics by U2

'The Little Things That Give You Away' song lyrics by U2

In a radio interview Bono said the name of a new song for Songs of Experience is "The Little Things That Give You Away".

Bono had previously referred to this song as the "The Morning After Innocence."

Lyrics

This is a placeholder post until Bono and the gang actually get around to releasing the new album. Come on guys!

U2 don't just sing about Africa and MLK, you know..

u2 protesting about nuclear waste

U2 don't just sing about Africa and MLK, you know..


Here's some pretty sweet 'articles' I wrote which attempt to pull together some of the common themes that U2 have written about. And maybe some other areas of interest!

North and South of the River lyrics by U2 - B-Side

North and South of the River lyrics by U2

North and South of the River lyrics by U2


This song was a b-side on U2's Starring at the Sun single which was from the Pop album.

It was co-written by U2 and Christy Moore, a fellow Irish musician. The song went through several versions by Moore and was originally only released under his name - U2 eventually released their own version.

Lyrics

I wanna reach out over the lough
And feel your hand across the water
Walk with you along an unapproved road
Not looking over my shoulder
I wanna see and I wanna hear
To understand your fears
But we're north and south of the river

I've been doing it wrong all of my life
This holy town has turned me over
A young man running from what he didn't understand
As the wind from the lough just blew colder and colder
There was a badness that had its way
Love wasn't lost
It just got mislaid
North and south of the river
North and south of the river

Can we stop playing these old tattoos
Darling, I don't have the answer
I wanna meet you where you are
I don't need you to surrender
There is no feeling so alone
As when the one you're hurting is your own
North and south of the river
North and south of the river

Some high ground is not worth taking
Some connections are not worth making
There's an old church bell no longer ringing
And some old songs are not worth bringing

North and south of the river
North and south of the river

The Best Thing lyrics by U2

The Best Thing song lyrics by U2


We're speculating that this is the new song that long time U2 producer Steve Lillywhite is mixing.

The Best Thing has immediate similarities to Even Better Than The Real Thing.

Lyrics 

About that time U2's Bono called Elvis a "White Nigger"



Did you know that Bono once described the singer Elvis as a 'white nigger'?

U2 wrote the song Elvis Ate America in 1995 and released it under the moniker of Passengers. In the song’s lyrics Bono referred to Elvis as a White Nigger.

This was before the internet was mainstream or an every day thing. This was the era where if you had the internet, it was connected by dial up modem and you probably paid by the hour. All this means that it’s easy to see how calling Elvis a white nigger missed the consciousness of media.

You can well imagine what would happen today if U2 dropped such a phrase into a song.

THERE>WOULD>BE>OUTRAGE amongst the keyboard social justice warriors.

It's an interesting use of the so called N-WORD. People are so afraid to use it in the appropriate context. If Bono had of called a black person a nigger, one could understand the outrage. Guns N Roses were accused of racism (amongst other things) for their song 'One In a Million' but one seemed to upset over a drunk Irishman calling Elvis a white nigger? Why is that?

We understand that the Passenger’s Elvis Ate America’s lyrics were part of a 14 minute in length poem called American David that Bono wrote. A few years ago he offered up during a radio interview the following snippet from the larger poem “Elvis, the white nigger / Ate Burger King and just kept getting bigger.”

So why is Bono describing one of the greatest singing icons in history as such? First of all, Bono is not employing an attitude of bigotry or racism. It’s very clear that Bono loves everyone – his work for Africa with people like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tuto and his support for AIDS victims and debt relief clearly demonstrate he is no racist. 

What he is doing is offering a commentary on Elvis’s musical roots. He was a white man that got the ‘blues’ and that a lot of his music was inspired and borrowed from black music – does anybody remember Elvis’s gospel albums which took both elements from Christian and Church music?

There is also a different meaning of white nigger that Bono may have also been trying to convey. It’s a religious slur used in Northern Ireland to refer to Catholics.  The term was also directed at Irish Catholic’s who had immigrated to America. Bono, being Irish would be keenly aware of this term and so it could be directed Elvis in that sense. 

The only problem with that was Elvis was not an immigrant to America nor was he raised a Catholic at all rather Pentecostal. His religious foundation can be summed up by his own quote “All I want is to know the truth, to know and experience God. I’m a searcher, that’s what I’m all about.”

Bono may have simply used the term to push the envelope a bit and get some attention – similar in a sense as to when he swore when giving a speech about Frank Sinatra at the 1996 Grammy Awards. 

Either way, it's clear that Bono had a deep respect and admiration for Bono - indeed, Elvis Ate America was not first song U2 wrote about Elvis, The Unforgettable Fire of course featured the song Elvis and America.

What references has Bono made to wind in U2 songs?



What references has Bono made to 'wind' in U2 songs?



The critics of U2 and Bono would have fun with mentioning Bono talking about wind as the man does talk about a lot of many things - but here's a serious collection of references that U2 have made to wind in their songs.

When you think about it, the wind is commonly used in songs - think of the Scorpion's Winds of Change as obvious example.

The use of wind is typically used to describe a change that is happening to someone or somewhere.

Here's occasions that U2 have referred to making wind in their songs, if you don't take yourself too seriously.

Kite

A fan favourite from All That You Can't Leave Behind, The initial draft of the lyrics were written with Bono's daughters Eve and Jordan in mind.

The Edge assisted Bono in writing the lyrics and has suggested that they were actually about Bono's emotionally-reserved father, Bob Hewson, who was dying of cancer at the time the song was written.

When Bob did die, the lyric 'last of the rock stars' was changed to 'last of the opera star's when sung live, reflecting Bob's past opera career. Ultimately, Kite is a song of hope.

Bullet the Blue Sky

"In the howling wind comes a stinging rain, see it driving nails into souls on the tree of pain" And so opens Bullet the Blue Sky from The Joshua Tree.

This line is poetic pain and sets the tone of the whole song.

A stinging attack on America's position in foreign politics and especially those of El Salvador in America's quest to stop communism at all costs.

Exit


Taken from The Joshua Tree, Exit tells the bleak tale of what I often think of as a desperate cowboy but in reality Bono's inspiration source was inspired by Norman Mailer's novel The Executioner's Song, the subject of which was serial killer Gary Gilm.

 Lyrically, it's a pairing to Bullet the Blue Sky as it refers to a howling wind.

Indian Summer Sky

A cut from The Unforgettable Fire album, Indian Summer sky is considered to be a social commentary on the prison-like atmosphere of city living in a world of natural forces.

An actual Indian Summer is is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather - to which the wind that Bono ask's to blow through so as to give some relief.

Ordinary Love

A sweet lyric about how the wind can lift us up:

"Birds fly high in the summer sky and rest on the breeze.
The same wind will take care of you and I.
We'll build our house in the trees."