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 too 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.


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.


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."