Bono's deeply personal song lyrics about Mothers and Fathers



U2 songs with lyrics about Mothers and Fathers


All good song writers tap their family tree for lyrical inspiration now and then.

There's been plenty of popular songs that feature lyrics about parents and their children.

A classic example is Cat Steven's Father and Son.

It's with no great surprise then that Bono has chosen to reveal insights into his feeling about his family in a few of U2's songs.

Here's some thoughts about a selected few...

Mofo


Mofo was the sixth single flogged from the supposedly terrible Pop album, the lyrics in part refer to Bono's beloved mother, whom he lost at the age of fourteen. Bono would later refer to his mother again in Iris (Hold Me Close) from Songs of Innocence.


Mothers of the Disappeared


The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, is a unique organization of Argentine women who have become human rights activists in order to achieve a common goal. For over three long decades, the Mothers have fought for the right to re-unite with their abducted children. It was this work that inspired Bono's lyrics.
 
sometimes you can't make it on your own

Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own


The lyric was written by Bono as a tribute to his father, Bob Hewson, who died in 2001.

Bono sang this at his funeral.

In the video for the song it was prefaced with the following from Bono:

 "My father worked in the post office by day and sang opera by night. We lived on the north side of Dublin in a place called Cedarwood Road. He had a lot of attitude. He gave some to me - and a voice. I wish I'd known him better."

On Your Own song shares similar parental sentiments as found in Kite from the All That You Can't Leave Behind album.

Tommorrow


The October album was definitely Bono on channelling and challenging his spiritual side - Tomorrow sees him exploring his thoughts around his mother's death and the spectre of her possibly meeting Jesus.


A song from the Grammy Award winning album, Zooropa, The first verse of this the First Time hints 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 latter perhaps is true.

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?

Indeed, there's almost a hint of the Prodigal Son story surrounding the entire fabric of the song. 

Dirty Day from the same album features a line from Bono of which is Dad used to say "I don't know you and you don't know the half of it", "No blood is thicker than ink", "Nothing's as simple as you think", and "It won't last kissing time."

I believe in Father Christmas


Written by Greg Lake, I Believe in Father Christmas with a view to making a critque about how Christmas had changed from being a celebration of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, into one huge and disgusting orgy or shopping.

Want to know more about some other U2 lyrics? Check out 10 U2 Love Songs.

'Song For Someone' song lyrics by U2

song for someone lyrics by U2


Song For Someone lyrics by U2



Song for Someone is a song from U2's album, Songs of Innocence.

It is one of the more 'soft' songs on the album but features a big rousing chorus and is one of the best tracks from the album.

Produced by Ryan Tedder and Flood (Flood, you may recall did production duties on the Grammy Award winning Zooropa and was around in The Joshua Tree era).

The meaning of the song is that it is a love song written by Bono for his wife Ali (refer The Sweetest Thing).

Song for Someone lyrics:

You got a face not spoiled by beauty
I have some scars from where I’ve been
You’ve got eyes that can see right through me
You’re not afraid of anything you’ve seen
I was told that I would feel nothing the first time
I don’t know how these cuts heal
But in you I found a rhyme

If there is a light
You can’t always see
And 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

You let me into a conversation
A conversation only we could make
You break and enter my imagination
Whatever’s in there
It’s yours to take
I was told I’d feel nothing the first time
You were slow to heal
But this could be the night

If there is a light
You can’t always see
And there is a world
We can’t always be
If there is a dark
Within and without
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

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

And I’m a long way
From your hill of Calvary
And I’m a long way
From where I was and where I need to be
If there is a light
You can’t always see
There is a world
We can’t always be
If there is a kiss
I stole from your mouth
And there is a light
Don’t let it go out

Here's and impressive video that goes with the song. Featuring future Star Wars actor, Woody Allen and his daughter Zoe it follows the tale of a man being released from prison.



Check out the lyrics to The Miracle which is also from Songs of Innocence.

U2 lyrics that explore Jesus, Yahweh and The Good Book

Lyrics from the Bible that U2 use

U2 lyrics that explore Jesus, Yahweh and the Bible


It seems almost obligatory to do a post on U2's spiritual side. They are perhaps the world's most popular Christian band after all!

 I say Christian very loosely though as for some people that kind of connotation can turn them right off  but U2's is most definitely a band that is not shy of exploring their spiritual lyrical side.

Bono, U2's main lyric writer, is a noted musical magpie that steals lines from the Bible to help with his song crafting. Indeed, here's a whole page of bible references Bono has made across the U2 song catalogue.

You could almost put U2's song lyrics into two distinct camps - songs about spirituality and songs about politics (such as nuclear war). 

You could throw in a third camp about of U2's love songs if you wanted but since when has 'love' not ever been spiritual or a matter of politics?

Jesus is a popular man in U2 songs, along with mentions of Yahweh, the references to the Koran and a few other Saints - so I thought  I'd feature a few U2 song lyrics that show case Bono's spiritual side and give a little insight into what I think the lyrics mean and perhaps give a little context on the genesis of some of them...

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For


Many people suddenly found themselves to be U2 fans in the late 80s when The Joshua Tree album started topping charts around the world.

Helping lead the charge was I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For which is the gold standard if you are looking for a U2 song that focuses on a spiritual yearning. 

Stealing the line from the Bible's 1 Corinthians 13:1: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

Bono sung  "I have spoken with the tongue of angels" thus heralding to the world where he was coming from yet he then signalled his mischievous side with the following lyric that he had also 'held the hand of the Devil'.

Wake Up Dead Man from the Pop album


In tough times people often turn to their spiritual advisor for support - Wake Up Dead Man is Bono trying to get a direct line with Jesus to come and fix "the fucked up world'.

Originally written during the Zooropa recording sessions, the final version ended up on Pop as an effective album closer.

Fun aside, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me also came from the Zooropa recording sessions and asks a question of Jesus.

Yahweh


A beautiful track from U2's How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Yahweh's lyrics are a reflection of Bono's faith (as the son of a Catholic father and an Anglican mother) and points to the differences in the power that he believes between God and mankind. 

The word 'yahweh' has traditionally been by transliterated from the word Jehovah. Jehovah is often described as "the proper name of God in the Old Testament".

Larry, Bono, Edge and Adam, hold the bike while I get on?

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Ostensibly a song about the political troubles that have face the people of Ireland, its inspiration was a couple of events where soldiers shot civilians in Northern Ireland - the lyrics capture the moment crisply by invoking a cross fire between religion and the military (and by extension the State) and the sad consequences when both collide. 

Until the End of the World


This has proved to be an incredibly popular song from U2's Achtung Baby and has been played on just about every tour U2 have done since that album was released in 1991.

It is semi-legendary in U2 fan circles for being a fictional conversation between Jesus and Judas following the betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane. The lyrics hint that Judas regretted his actions and committed suicide.

Tomorrow


A classic earnest lyric from Bono. The October album was definitely Bono on 'God Watch' -  exploring his thoughts around his mother's death and the spectre of meeting Jesus.

Stranger in a Strange Land


The entire lyrics of the song appear to be making an allusion to the Emmaus story from the Bible's Luke 24, where the newly risen from the dead Jesus appears to two disciples as a complete stranger, but miraculously cannot be recognized until he offers bread to the two disciples who have invited him into their abode.


It's hard to discern the actual message of this song. The lyrics possibly suggest the character is living in a world where they need some help and they need some angels to come and sort things out.

The line "where is the hope, and where is the faith, and the love?" hints at a lost soul that needs some guidance in light of a world they are concerned about such one where the cartoon network leads into the news and the blind lead the blondes.

The song featured on the City of Angels soundtrack and was a fairly popular single from the Pop album.

Salome


Salome is inspired by the story of the death of John the Baptist which was from the gospel of Mark.

Supposedly a seductive dancer (in the modern day vernacular, she'd be known as a stripper) Salome's super gyrations convinced the King to grant her a wish to which she asked for the head of John.

Pretty random story and sounds like something that got lost in translation when the Bible got rewritten. It's either that or Oscar Wilde had an over active imagination. It definitely had nothing to do with anything Darth Vader said in Star Wars.

These eight songs where only a taste of the many songs that Bono has imbued with lyrics that refer to the Bible or have looked into an 'ecumenical' matter of sorts - Gloria, for example, could probably have a whole essay written about it.

What other songs do you think show U2's spiritual side? What do they mean for you?

U2 songs that reference nuclear bombs and other horrors

u2 protesting nuclear power plant

U2 song lyrics that reference nuclear bombs and other cruel horrors


U2 are known for their political views and agitation to get policy change but where like a band like Rage Against the Machine would be all in your face – U2 are just as obvious but less angry – their last tour featured members of Amnesty International coming out on state during Walk On – a song dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burman political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Both band’s lyrics also push the barrel of whatever agenda they have – a long standing on for U2 has been referencing atomic war and nuclear issues.

U2 also once famously protested against the Sellafeild nuclear plant by colluding with Greenpeace to stage an event on a beach near the site that was contaminated with radiation as the result of the power plant’s activities.

As far as I can figure the earliest U2 song lyrics that refers to atomic bombs is from the non album single, Celebration where Bono sarcastically shares that he believes in the following three things:

“I believe in the third world war
I believe in the atomic bomb
I believe in the powers that be but they won't overpower me”

That was as far back as 1982.

Seconds from the popular War album is another early U2 songs to make direct references to atomic bombs

“And they're doing the atomic bomb
Do they know where the dance comes from
Yes, they're doing the atomic bomb
They want you to sing along

Bono said to the NME music magazine in 1983 of the song:

 "There is a line in 'Seconds' about a fanatic assembling a nuclear device in an apartment in Times Square, New York, but it could be anywhere. We are now entering the age of nuclear terrorism where a group of fanatics could have the capabilities of bringing a bomb into a city and holding millions of people to ransom."

The Unforgettable Fire was released in 1984 in a time when the world was worrying itself sick about the arms race between the US and the Russians. Bono was inspired by a collection of paintings collectively known as The Unforgettable Fire which was a reference to atomic bombs being dropped in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Ngagasaki. 

Says the Edge of the art display (in the book U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song) "the image of that purging quality, coupled with the insight it gave into the horror of nuclear holocaust, stuck in Bono's mind".

It is perhaps ironic that the lyrics to song The Unforgettable Fire do not reference anything nuclear or atomic!

The Wanderer, featuring country and western legend Johnny Cash from the Zooropa album was definitely suggestive of being set in a post apocalyptic world set under an 'atomic sky'. Lyrically it featured a character that appeared to be struggling to find some kind of spiritual identity.

Another U2 album title also referred to atomic bombs in a most direct fashion – How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was a popular album that had a bonus track Fast Cars which gave the answer to the album’s question – one dismantles an atomic bomb with love.

Are there any other U2 lyrics that refer to nuclear issues?

Check out this other article that discusses Bono's lyric writing abilities

“I Believe in Father Christmas” Lyrics by U2

i believe in father christmas  greg lake

“I Believe in Father Christmas” Lyrics by U2


U2 released a charity Christmas single, for World Aids Day in 2008

The song's lyrics are written by Greg Lake, who was a principal player of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and he didn’t know U2 had covered his Christmas song until he heard it when it was released! 

Lake has said "In some ways, “I Believe in Father Christmas” is a very quirky song.

It was never written with the intention of it becoming a hit single but was written, rather, as an album track making quite a serious comment about how Christmas had changed from being a celebration of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, into one huge and disgusting shopping orgy."

“I Believe in Father Christmas” lyrics as song by U2


They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the Virgin's birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire
They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
'Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
'Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas you get you deserve.

La la la la la la la la la la....

What songs does The Edge sing on?

What U2 lyrics does The Edge sing?

What U2 songs does The Edge sing on?


The Edge sings on plenty of U2 songs as back up vocalist, often sharing those duties with Larry. 


Here's a couple of songs where The Edge has taken the lead vocal duty. 

Clicking on the song name with take you to the lyrics.

Numb


"Numb" was released as the Zooropa's first single. 

Numb is a repeating, monotonous mantra spoken by The Edge with a drumbeat sampled from the Leni Riefenstahl film Olympia. 

"Numb" also features backing vocals by Bono and Larry Mullen, Jr i.e. while the The Edge sings in a slow monotone while Bono sings around it in his 'opera' voice. Bono did the same on Zooropa, the Johnny Cash track. 

Here's the video of Numb as it's a classic!

Van Dieman's Land was the original name used by Europeans for the island of Tasmania, Australia. The lyrics were written and sung by U2's one and only The Edge. 

The song is dedicated to a Fenian poet named John Boyle O'Reilly, who was deported to Australia because of his poetry and Fenian leanings. 

The track itself is from Rattle and Hum.


Sunday Bloody Sunday


During the Pop Mart tour, The Edge took lead vocal duties live on stage for this song. Edge sang alone and without accompaniment from the rest of the U2 band, save for his own guitar.


You're The Best Thing About Me


From Songs of Experience, The Edge sings a full verse near the end of the song:

"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"

The Edge is also noted as singing the the first half of the song "Seconds" from War, dual vocals with Bono in "Discotheque" from the Pop album, and the bridge in the song "Miracle Drug" (though there's some debate about that).

10 songs that show Bono's lyrical qualities

10 songs that show Bono's lyrical qualities
What rhymes with achtung?

10 songs that show Bono's lyrical writing qualities


The one thing that truly stands out for me when thinking about the brilliance of U2 is not their songs, the drums, or riffs.

Nor is it the hype and hyperbole of one of the world's most popular bands.

It's simply Bono's lyrics.

Bono has written the vast majority of U2's lyrics and in many of them, you can find some true gems of penmanship, little sparkles of lyrical bliss that took a good song and put it into the territory of musical greatness.

I suggest that while some non U2 fans take any chance to diss Bono, they would be really grumpy buggers if they denied that Bono was a great lyricist.

Like a good poet, Bono's lyrics feature a whole range of subjects - love and loss, drugs, faith, faith in drugs, gods, Elvis and other monsters and of course, politics and its prisoners.

This work leaves ample room for an inquiry into U2's lyrics, especially when The Edge chips in the odd song.


So what are Bono's best lyrical moments and qualities? 



What's his inspiration for putting pen to paper?

What makes Bono's lyrics so well received by millions of listeners and readers around the world?

I can't speak for anyone else but I thought I could share 10 U2 songs which I think highlight Bono's mastery of his craft.

Some things are simply clever word plays, others are stories of delight and irony - a thing which Bono and the boys were very heavy on in the 1990's.

Trabants on stage anyone?

10 songs that show Bono's lyrical qualities


One


Perhaps second only to With Or Without you in terms of popularity, it is arguably U2's finest song and I believe the lyrics are what make this so - I think this is because it's one of those songs where the lyrics can mean anything and everything to anyone.

At work last week a manager did a pop quiz and asked what this song was about. The answers varied from 'it's about a gay couple' or 'two torn lovers'.

I think Bono's actually on record in the U2 by U2 book as One being a song about a couple that's breaking up.

But that doesn't matter as its words are universal and have been taken to heart by so many U2 fans - indeed some have even had it as their wedding song which I'm sure would be a delicious irony for Bono. 

The Wanderer


"They say they want the kingdom but they don't want God in it".

I think that's Bono perfectly capturing the wishes of so many of us.

We want the nice things, but aren't prepared to put in the effort.

Or something.

For me, The Wanderer always seemed like some post apocalyptic dream - and it's perhaps a sign of a great song where it allows you to shape your own thoughts and fantasies around it (well when Bono mentions the 'atomic sky', that's nice nudge).

Indeed, the whole of Zooropa's lyrics seem to take me to a strange other world, where in some places it's OK to feel numb or taste the lemon but spit out antifreeze.

Original of the Species


The title is suggestive of what's to come in this song, a play on Darwin's epic work about evolution - the song's lyrics are possibly a father looking at his daughter's own evolution from - child to woman.

The second half is more likely Bono singing to his wife (and the message in the first half could also before her) - either way both, themes are heartwarming.

If God Will Send His Angels


'Blind leading the blond' is perhaps my favourite U2 lyric ever. It's just a cleverly simple play on words.

Bono does that trick a fair bit in the Pop album - an almost too cute example is from The Playboy Mansion which opens with the lyric "If Coke is a mystery, and Micheal Jackson, history...".

It was a nice play on the failing career of Jackson and a play on the name of his Greatest Hits album.


Sunday Bloody Sunday


Bono defiantly wears this song's lyrics on his sleeve.

A song about soldiers shooting civilians in Northern Ireland - the lyrics capture the moment crisply by invoking a cross fire between religion and the military (and by extension the State) and the sad consequences when both collide.

Featuring a fine use of  a marching drum beat by Larry Mullen, the song's chorus is a defining moment for Bono - it was one of U2's first truly popular 'classic' songs and it many ways this song defined U2 as a band that could carry some political weight.

U2 would return to this theme with "Please" and "The Troubles".
.

Until the End of the World


"In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim

Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you'd wait
'Til the end of the world"

Simply one of Bono's finest song writing moments.

Water is commonly used as a metaphor life yet here's Bono drowning in his sorrows.

The song can be seen as a obvious story about how Judas betrayed Jesus and thus seen as one of those "U2 going on about God and spiritually" type songs but as with all good lyrics they can mean anything.

I tend to see this one more of a dramatic break up between two lovers where the relationship perhaps has been bit one sided.

The Wanderer


"They say they want the kingdom but they don't want God in it". I think that's Bono perfectly capturing the wishes of so many of us.

We want the nice things, but aren't prepared to put in the effort.

For me, The Wanderer always seemed like some post apocalyptic dream - and it's perhaps a sign of a great song where it allows you to shape your own thoughts and fantasies around it (well when Bono mentions the 'atomic sky', that's nice nudge).

Indeed, the whole of Zooropa's lyrics seem to take me to a  strange other world, where in some places it's OK to feel numb or taste the lemon but spit out antifreeze.

U2 playing live onstage


Not a hugely popular song on release as a single but I think time has shown that Please was a fine song from U2's Pop album.

Lyrically it was a political plea, invoking the captains of Irish politics to sort their messes out (The Troubles).

The listener would perhaps know the song had political connotations if they had seen the cover which featured Gerry Adams and other elected leaders - however this stanza effectively leaves no stone unturned as Bono thows a rock in the air to hit home the issues:

Your Catholic blues, your convent shoes
Your stick-on tattoos, now they're making the news
Your holy war, your northern star
Your sermon on the mount from the boot of your car

Strong stuff from an album many people were quick to write off.


One could be forgiven for thinking that Get on Your Boots was simply a throw away song by U2 ( indeed one wonders why they released it as the first single from No Line on the Horizon when Magnificent probably would have given them a hit single) however the lyrics of this song run deep.

Almost a stream of consciousness, tripping through its seemingly nonsensical words but when Bono writes "I don’t want to talk about the wars between the nations" is he saying everything or just burying his head in the sand?

This is Bono's finest love letter he has ever written.

The closing from Rattle and Hum is simply a man tell a woman how he loves her - it's perhaps not the happiest song with undertones suggesting things may have gone awry - indeed the tremendous coda at the end suggests a passionate love affair being ripped apart by uncaring forces.

A good lyric deserves a fine musical backing and All I Want is You has it in spades.

Summary

So that was my attempt to highlight some of the fine lyrical qualities and charms that Bono and U2 have to offer.

Of course, with any interpretation of songs, the whole exercise is a subjective journey, indeed a musical journey that could have stopped at a completely different set of songs.

Bono is a bit of a lyrical magpie.

He steals lines from the bible and riffs on the work of others (such as when he tried to write a sequel of sorts to John Lennon's 'God') to make his point. But he does that and gets his unique messages across to the listener very well.

If someone hasn't already printed a book featuring all of U2's lyrics, they surely will as they serve as some fine literature in their own right. Throw in some politcal rallying and a little love making and there's a best seller book of poetry on your hands....

What are your favourite lyrical moments from U2?

10 U2 songs that reflect on American culture and politics

Bono wearing an American flag jacket
Outside is America

10 U2 songs that reflect on American culture and politics


U2 are no strangers to having a say on America, its people, and its politics. They are fairly big on political activism.

In fact, making political commentary is almost second nature to Bono, if he's not singing about troubles in Ireland, he's trying to convince someone like George Bush Jnr to reduce the debt owed to America by third world countries. He shares his views because he earnestly cares.

U2 toured America many times early in their career and appear to have fallen under its spell - so it's no surprise really that Bono has chosen to write about what he's seen and heard and learned.

Here's a selection of 10 U2 songs that feature some form of lyrical comment or celebration of one of the world's most dynamic countries.

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 related to the city of New York - even a popular radio station was mentioned!

U2 appeared to be trying to 'get into' the blues on Rattle on Hum - this song was a clear step in that musical genre and the dropping in of names from artists that helped shape it were an attempt to give an air of authenticity.

America is, after all, the home of the blues.

A less cynical reader might simply see the lyrics of Angel of Harlem as a celebration of the city.

The Saints Are Coming


While not written by U2 or Green Day (it was a cover of The Skids song), The Saints Are Coming is a song both bands recorded together to deliver a blunt political message about the U.S. Government's response to Hurricane Katrina which many felt was negligent and that the Bush administration was "Stuck on Stupid".

The promotional video deliberately played on popular feelings of utter disbelief and dismay at the way the U.S. government had responded to the event.

Stuck on stupid indeed.

Bullet the Blue Sky


Perhaps the archetype political song by U2 (arguably Sunday Bloody Sunday could take that role too) the lyrics describe the unintended consequences of US President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy decisions in South America.

The song lyrics are an overt criticisms of the American policy of "stop communism at all costs".

Such policy les the Reagan Administration to provide financial and political support to the Salvadoran regime which required them to ignoring that regime's abuse of human rights. 


Is it really any surprise that U2 ended up writing a song about New York?

Bono has stated that the song is a tribute of sorts to both Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed.

The Play Boy Mansion


The Play Boy Mansion is possibly a symbol of all that is wrong and right with America - either way Hugh Hefner is as popular as ever.

The songs lyrics are perhaps a tongue-in-cheek run down of some American icons.

Certainly Bono would not be deliberately suggesting the route to happiness is a visit to Hefner's pad.

Or is he?

Elvis Ate America and Elvis Presley And America


Two for the money here - U2 have often sang about Elvis - and these songs were a celebration of the man and his legacy on music.

The lyrics that 'Elvis would have been a sissy without Johnny Cash' were a great piece of commentary - the use of the word 'n-word' was a brave move.... did Chuck D approve?

Zooropa


Many of the verse lyrics are borrowed from the slogans of American companies and corporations.

These slogans include "Be all that you can be" from the United States Army), "Fly the friendly skies" from airline United Airlines), Colgate's "Ring of confidence (the lyric being "We've got that ring of confidence"), and Fairy's "Mild green Fairy liquid" (the line being "We're mild and green and squeaky clean").

This could be simply viewed some kind of meta commentary on American consumerism (admittedly the song has slogans from other European countries) and perhaps hints at some kind of moral confusion where the morals of a society may be dictated by the corporate dollar spend on advertising.

Pride (In the Name of Love)


Pride has become an international anthem for peace, freedom, and human rights.

Its inspiration was the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and '60s.

The song is a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. who has become the symbol for equal rights in America for all persons.

U2 also wrote the song MLK about the same subject.

Seconds


While the lyrics are a loose story of a terrorist trying to arm a bomb and perhaps set it off, the context for the song is that it was written by Bono in the 1980s.

This was a period where the Cold War between the USSR and America had reached an all-time freezing point in relations (save for the Cuban missile crisis!).

The song evokes the fears that people had that this Cold War could potentially lead to nuclear war and the own kind of cold winter that would bring.

That's just a taste of songs that U2 has used to make a comment on America.

There's almost a duplicity to U2 in this regard - they tour America and revel in its people and then at the same time they make sharp criticism of its leaders, their institutions and Coke but take the ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities.

I trust U2 fans are in on it but it might be hard to tell in a country where many people think Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA is a patriotic song.....

U2 songs which reference the Troubles of Ireland

Northen Scum beanie worn by The Edge.
Edge’s Northern Scum hat.

U2, Ireland and the IRA - songs that explore 'The Troubles'


‘The Troubles’ is a common name for the Northern Ireland conflict which spanned generations as Ireland nearly destroyed itself. Political divisions along political and religious lines wrestled with each other’s version of how Ireland should be governed.

In general terms, Catholic Nationalists and Unionist Protestants found themselves engaged in a brutal war where car bombings and ‘knee-cappings’ became the norm.

Paramilitary units such as those of the IRA killed with impunity and the British Army became a standard presence in the streets.

Many innocent civilians died as a result of some 1300 bombings, not to forget attacks on British soldiers.

There are no surprises then for guessing why U2 called their third album War.

Larry, Adam, Bono, and The Edge all grew up in this era. They were children subjected and exposed to it all. The Songs of Experience album covers some of this time.

The Edge has said that their songs are are ‘against violence as a tool for politics of any kind’.

Let's start with arguably the most famous U2 song about Ireland.

'Sunday Bloody Sunday' from War


The song's lyrics describe the horror felt by Bono’s character of who has been observing the Troubles. In particular, they are focusing on the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders. The lyrics juxtaposed this terrible day in history with the murder of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

The song thus commemorates the slaughter of innocent civilians during the Irish troubles. While not a 'rebel song' it is a call for a rejection of violence.

This song became very popular and helped draw attention to the issues. As the band's popularity grew, they used it to campaign against the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) efforts to raise money to fuel continued armed conflict.

This lead to the  IRA sending a threat to U2 that if they continued their campaign, they would be kidnapped. U2 continued anyway and continued to bring attention to the Troubles.

What's very interesting about the IRA getting upset about a single pop song was the fact that the original lyrics contained the line '"Don't talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA'. Written by the Edge, the band as a whole felt such lyrics might be too inflammatory and where changed.

This bit of self-editing actually made the song better.

As the song became more popular, some listeners interpreted the song's meaning as being a call to draw the Irish people deeper into the sectarian battle. This was clearly an incorrect analysis of the song's lyrics and intent. 

Once that issue was recognized by the band, Bono would often introduce the song with it as not being a 'rebel song'. If you listen to the live version recorded on the Live at Red Rocks album Bono says, "There's been a lot of talk about this next song, this song is not a rebel song, this song is Sunday Bloody Sunday!"

Some people thought the song was actually glorifying the Troubles and calling them deeper into the country's sectarian battle. On many occasions since its release on 1983's War, Bono has made it clear that this is not a "rebel song" or a song of the "revolution," but a song that defiantly waves the white flag for peace. 

The inspiration for this song may also have in part been due to John Lennon releasing his own song in 1972 also called Sunday Bloody Sunday about the Derry slaughter. Lennon's lyrics were full of vitriol (mostly aimed at the British government) and hugely antagonistic.

'Please' from the Pop album


Please was in our opinion, one of the best songs from the Pop album.

This song’s lyrics are blatantly about the troubles in Ireland. As the song slowly builds, Bono paints the picture, coloring the world in terms of religion and war colliding to the point where bombs are left in cars and as they are set up, that is the ‘sermon from the mount'. 
u2 Please single cover of Gerry Adams
Please single cover

The single cover for this song features the pictures of four Northern Irish politicians — Gerry Adams, David Trimble, Ian Paisley, and John Hume in a pointed effort to draw attention to the issues.

This photo was a direct message to the political leaders of the Irish people to ‘get up of their knees’ and hasten the peace process which was grinding along slowly – to which Bono pointedly states ‘October, talk getting nowhere November, December Remember, are we just starting again’.

Bono also cleverly entwines the songs meaning to be ‘about a girl’ – so much so that if you aren’t paying clear attention to his words, you could be duped into thinking the song is simply a love song about an explosive relationship. 

In many ways, Please is the sound of a U2 growing up from their Sunday Bloody Sunday era and offering a more grizzled, even more wizened approach to the issue.

Van Dieman's Land from Rattle and Hum



It's not a direct reference to The Troubles but Van Dieman's Land is an odd song dedicated to a Fenian poet named John Boyle O'Reilly, who was deported to Australia because of his bad poetry or more likely, his political leanings as espoused in the poetry. 

Fenian is a coverall word used to describe the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Brotherhood and more generally these days as anything Irish.

The song's lyrics were written and sung by U2's The Edge

'Peace on Earth' from All That You Can't Leave Behind


Described by the Edge as "the most bitter song U2 has ever written", Peace on Earth is yet another response by U2 to the Omagah bombing in Northern Ireland on 15 August 1989. The bomb set by a splinter IRD group known as the Real Irish Republican Army killed 29 people and injured a couple of hundred other persons.

The bomb was to express disagreement with the IRD’s formal ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement which was a plan to forge a path to peace.

Bono refers to the names of some of the people killed in the bombing - Sean, Julia, Gareth, Anne, and Breda. He’s once more expressing his disdain for war and asking Jesus to tell those waging it that their real mission is peace on Earth but more than that, the song serves as a tribute to those that died. That they are bigger than the war that was being waged.

'The Troubles' from Songs of Innocence


"The Troubles", was described by Bono as "an uncomfortable song about domestic violence". 

Bono is being somewhat cute with this statement as while domestic violence is often used to describe the violence that can occur in the family home, Bono is also probably referring to The Troubles as being the domestic violence of Ireland and the clue to this is the deliberate title of the song.

If the song is seen context with the album it came from, it's very relevant to the actual Troubles. Songs of Innocence was about Bono and his bandmates growing up and living during the actual Troubles. To include a song about domestic violence on the album and not have it also be a consideration of the troubles would be disingenuous of Bono.

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? Want to choose the best synthetic oil for a lawnmower? How about some U2 songs's with lyrics about nuclear politics? or just America...