U2 songs with 'angels' in the lyrics

What U2 songs feature 'angels' in the lyrics?

Bono's lyrical use of angelic imagery in U2's discography is a compelling aspect of his songwriting, reflecting a deep fascination with spiritual and metaphysical themes. Angels in Bono's lyrics often symbolize a range of concepts such as guidance, protection, inspiration, and a higher calling. This motif aligns with his exploration of existential questions, the human search for meaning, and the complex interplay between doubt and faith. The invocation of angels allows Bono to delve into these themes with a poetic richness, offering listeners a window into his contemplative side.

His use of angelic references is not merely ornamental; it serves as a nuanced tool for expressing both personal and universal struggles. Angels in Bono's lyrics often embody the struggle between the earthly and the divine, the flawed human condition, and the aspiration towards something transcendent. This duality between the tangible world and an ethereal realm forms a recurring thread in U2's music, inviting listeners to engage with their own interpretations of spirituality and morality. 

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 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!

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.

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 Michael 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).


"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?