Friday, November 15, 2013

What songs have U2 and Bono written about Africa?

What songs have U2 and Bono written about Africa?

Bono has sung many political songs over the years and many of them focus on the struggles of people within certain countries, here's a few songs related to Africa.

Ordinary Love

A non album track by U2, it was used to promote the film which tells the story of Nelson Mandela's A Long Walk to Freedom.

Silver and Gold

An anti-apartheid song written with guitarist Little Steven to protest the oppression of the South African people by the regime that existed at the time.

Bono did a cover of this song with Alicia Keys. It was originally recorded by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.

Where the Streets Have No Name

A song inspired by Bono's work in Africa in the early 80s. The song's lyrics are a juxtaposition of the U2's early live in Belfast, Ireland where one could tell another's religion by the area in which they lived.

The  lyrics of this song are a commentary about the relationship between Western countries and developing countries such as Africa. The verses and chorus address the relationship from the perspective of citizens from the developing world, focusing on the disparity between the long-term socioeconomic planning stressed by the West and the developing world's immediate need for sustenance.
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U2 is number one so why try harder?

How many number one songs have U2 had?

The short version: UK 7 and US 2

The long version:

U2 have had all kinds of hits on the music charts but at the end of the day it’s the songs that made number one on those charts that are often the ones asked about as questions in pub quizzes. So to help you out, here’s a list or two of U2 songs that have made number one.

There are various kinds of charts that track popularity and they often revolve around rock, country and blues and are used to allow music that would never be mainstream get some air time. There’s even the itunes charts which for some unexplained reason people seem to think matters…

Two my mind there are only two charts that really count. Being ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK means you are number one and crowning the Billboard 200 means you have the most popular song for the week in America. And we’ll use those charts to show how many number on hits U2 have had.

First up is the America Billboard chart which shows the U2 have had two number one hits. Both hits were from The Joshua Tree and were With or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Desire from Rattle and Hum made it as high as 3 and a couple of singles from Achtung Baby and Pop made the top 10 and that’s it.

So, U2 have only had 2 number one American hits.

It’s a better story for the UK chart where U2 have had a bit more success in terms of chart toppers.

Nothing from The Joshua Tree went to number one despite the album’s massive success so it was Desire that became U2’s first UK number one hit It came from Rattle and Hum. In 1991 when The Fly flew off as the lead single from Achtung Baby it landed at number 1. It was a long time between drinks when Discotheque dropped in 1997.

U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind had a string of popular singles but only Beautiful Day in 2000 managed the spot. A debatable number one is Take Me to the Clouds Above" by LMC vs. U2. Debatable as it was a song featuring samples from U2's With or Without You with a health splash of Whitney Houston thrown in. At the end of the day, the song has U2’s name in the space where the artist’s name goes so it counts as a number one.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb offered a notable double with both Vertigo and Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own grabbing their time in the top position.

No Line on the Horizon suffered from a lack of hit singles.

This means U2 have had seven number one hits in the UK and two in the U2. Unsurprisingly U2 are even more popular in their home country of Ireland and owned the number one place an awesome 21 times.

The next most popular country is the enlightened people of Canada with 14 which is twice as many as the UK successes.

List of U2’s UK number one songs:
  • Desire
  • The Fly
  • Discotheque
  • Beautiful Day
  • Take Me to the Clouds Above
  • Vertigo
  • Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own

Ordinary Love by U2

U2 have released a new song! It’s called Ordinary Love – it’s on the soundtrack to a film about Nelson Mandela – this is great for several reasons – by supporting Mandela’s story it will be heard by more people and perhaps somewhat selfishly, we get new U2 music!

If you like, read the lyrics to U2′s Ordinary Love here.

One wonder’s if it was a left over song from the Songs of Ascent sessions or something new? Either way, it sounds pretty good!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

U2 lyrics that feature love

All You Need Is Love - 10 U2 Love Songs

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 have song a few songs that ponder the wondrousness of it all.

Here's a few songs that either feature the subject love in their lyrics or are clearly love songs.

Love is Blindness

A haunting tracking that closed the mighty body of work that was Achtung Baby - the lyrics suggest an quite desperate love where nothing else matters but that love - a deep play on the phrase love is blind but the neighbours aint joke perhaps?

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 a aching love lorn 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.

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?

Sick of love and lust? Want to bite your teeth into something more serious? How about some U2 songs's with lyrics about nuclear politics?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Besides U2 what else is there?

List of U2 B-sides and Lyrics

When a band records an album, they often have a selection of songs that don't make the final cut but they are good enough to be released in some form and historically they've been added as a B-side as support to the A-side of a single release. While Oasis is famous for their b-sides, U2 are not so much well known for their b-sides but none the less, they've built up a pretty sweet collection of songs.

U2 B-sides

A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel
B-side on the 'Angel of Harlem' single released in December 1988.

Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk / Korova 1
B-side on 'The Fly' single, October 1991.

B-side on 'Beautiful Day' single, October 2000.

Are You Gonna Wait Forever
B-side on 'Vertigo' single, November 2004.

Ave Maria (Jacknife Lee Mix)
B-side on 'Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own' single, February 2005.

Beat On The Brat
From 'We're a Happy Familiy', a tribute album to The Ramones. February 2003.

Big Girls Are Best
B-side on 'Stuck in A Moment' single, January 2001.

"Boomerang II" from The Unforgettable Fire's Pride, September 1984.

A track on U2's very first single 'Three', October 1979.

Can't Help Falling In Love (Triple Peaks Remix)
B-side on 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' single, August 1992.

Dancing Barefoot
B-side on 'When Love Comes to Town' single, April 1989.

Deep In The Heart
B-side on 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' single, May 1987.

Everlasting Love
B-side on 'All I Want is You' single, June 1989.

Fortunate Son
B-side on 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' single, August 1992.

Hallelujah Here She Comes
B-side on 'Desire' single, September 1988.

Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Gun Mix)
B-side on 'Last Night on Earth' single, July 1997.

Holy Joe
B-side on 'Discothèque' single, February 1997.

Johnny Swallow
B-side on 'Fire' single, July 1981.

Lady with the Spinning Head
B-side on 'One' single, March 1992.

Love Comes Tumbling
B-side on 'The Unforgettable Fire' single, October 1984.

Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)
B-side on 'With or Without You' single, March 1987.

Neon Lights
B-side on 'Vertigo' single, November 2004.

North and South of the River
B-side on 'Staring at the Sun' single, April 1997.

Paint It Black (cover of the Rolling Stones)
B-side on 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' single, August 1992.

Race Against Time
B-side on 'Where the Streets Have No Name' single, August 1987.

B-side on 'Even Better Than the Real Thing' single, June 1992.

Satellite of Love
B-side on 'One' single, March 1992.

Silver and Gold
B-side on 'Where the Streets Have No Name' single, August 1987.

Slow Dancing
B-side on 'Stay (Faraway, So Close!)' single, November 1993.

Spanish Eyes
B-side on 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' single, May 1987.

Summer Rain
B-side on 'Beautiful Day' single, October 2000.

Sweetest Thing (The Single Mix)
Released as a single in 1997. Originally a b-side on 'Where The Streets Have No Name' single, 1987.

The Three Sunrises
B-side on 'The Unforgettable Fire' single, October 1984.

B-side on '11 O'Clock Tick Tock' single, May 1980.

Tower of Song
B-side on 'Window in the Skies' single, January 2007. From the movie 'Leonard Cohen: I'm your Man'.

Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl
B-side on 'A Celebration' single, March 1982.

Treasure (Whatever happened to Pete the Chop)
B-side on 'New Year's Day' single, January 1983.

Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad
B-side on 'If God Will Send His Angels' single, December 1997.

Unchained Melody
B-side on 'All I Want is You' single, June 1989.

Walk to the Water
B-side on 'With or Without You' single, March 1987.

Where Did It All Go Wrong
B-side on 'Even Better Than the Real Thing' single, June 1992.

Got lyrics by Bono?

10 songs that show Bono's lyrical qualities

What rhymes with achtung?
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 but their 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 it's 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 any one else but I thought I could share 10 U2 songs which I think highlight Bono's mastery of his craft. Some of thing 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

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 simply 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..." which 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 Northen 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.

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.

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 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 Magnificant probably would have given them a hit single) however the lyrics of this song run deep. Almost a stream of consciousness, tripping through it's seemingly nonsensical words but when Bono writes "I don’t want to talk about the wars between the nations" he's saying everything.

All I Want is You

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.


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....

U2 are the bomb

U2 songs that reference nuclear bombs and other horrors

U2 songs that reference nuclear bombs and other horrors

U2 are known for their political views and agitation to get policy change but where as 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 then the lyrics to song The Unforgettable Fire do not reference anything nuclear or atomic!

The Wanderer, featuring country and western legend Johnny Cash from theZooropa 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

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Bono and the Edge hooked up with Jay-Z to write a song to help raise funds for the Haitian people folllowing a very large earthquake that annihilated the country.

Here's the link to the set list for the Haiti benefit gig where they sang Stranded with Rihanna. The first link has further links to itunes where you can download the song and make a donation.

Here's the lyrics to U2's Stranded (Haiti, Mon Amour).

Monday, October 26, 2009

I love Bono

bono macphisto
Who is Bono?
Bono is the instant karma of the spirit of Frank fucking Sinatra. Bono is love, peace and harmony. Bono is celebrity hack yacking in the prime minister's ear about freely negotiated debt. Bono is the hooker with a heart of gold. He's also the rick prick that charges you $150 to see the greatest band in the land. Bono is one quarter of U2.
Bono is the dude that wrote that song you danced to at your wedding that you didn't realise was about a couple breaking up. Bono is the guy that wrote Desire. Bono is better by design. Bono is what Chris Martin will never become. Bono's bad mood is Radiohead. Bono can be that kicking squeeling gucci little piggy.
Bono is a bluer kind of white.
Bono took the vague from Las Vegas and replaced it with MacPhisto. Bono is the singer in a rock n roll band. Bono hears ridiculous voices. Bono won't be come a minister in order to defeat a monster. Bono is Paul Hewson. Bono is not the Walrus, that was the other Beatle. Bono has the right shoes to get you through the night. Bono is Frank Sinatra's two shots of happy, one shot of sad.
Bono is living on The Edge.
Bono is a mother fucking Pope. Bono wants to be your political compass and conscious. Bono is nuclear free. Bono writes the lyrics. Bono is the guy that drinks too much wine. Bono is a preacher man, sometimes the too preachy man.

Bono is the fish that rode the bicyle.