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