Posts Tagged ‘U2’

One – U2 (song)

Today I thought I would blog about one of my favourite U2 songs – “One”, from their 7th studio album Achtung Baby. “One” was released as a single in March 1992, and was the 3rd single to be released from Achtung Baby, following on from “Mysterious Ways”. The words to “One” were written by Bono, with the music by the band.

The lyrics to “One” talk of the fractures that Bono felt were developing in the band, but also which he saw in Berlin, where they went to record the album just after the wall had fallen. Whilst, in theory, by then a united city, Bono saw dislocation and isolation all around him as the city struggled to become one after over forty years of being divided.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now 
You got someone to blame

You say…
One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

Well it’s…
Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got

We’re one
But we’re not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other

One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

Here is one of the official videos of this song; the other one was a mesmerising black and white video showing a bison. I am sure that you will be able to find it online. Enjoy!

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Back in late August I wrote a series of blogs on Martin Luther King, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his “I have a dream” speech (here, here and here). At the time I said I would write more about his assassination in April, as he was killed on the 4th of April 1968 in Memphis Tennessee. Unfortunately I don’t have the time this week to do the post proper justice, so I will leave it for another time. Instead, I am sharing this wonderful live performance of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which is one of their several tribute songs to Martin Luther King.

The back cover of the sleeve for U2's single "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"

The back cover of the sleeve for U2’s single “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”

The lyrics of the song are

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come here to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love!
One man in the name of love
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resists
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

…nobody like you…there’s nobody like you…

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love…

The particular performance I have included here is from their movie “Rattle and Hum”. Enjoy!

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I was lucky enough to be at Live Aid, an extraordinary day in July 1985 that I will never forget. Of the many bands who performed that day, the two who stood out for me were Queen and U2. At the time, U2 were not a particularly well-known band. Their 4th album Unforgettable Fire had been released in October 1984, and was very much their breakthrough album. It had Pride (In The Name of Love) as its big hit. So, by the time of Live Aid I, and probably quite a few others there, knew of them and had maybe even gone back to listen to their first three albums, Boy, October and War.

The Irish band U2, in their early days in the mid 1980s.

At Live Aid they played several songs, but the one which stole the show for me was Bad. The version they played at Live Aid lasted for over 10 minutes, and included Bono leaping down from the stage and inviting a female member of the crowd to join him for a few seconds of a tender dance. It stole the show in my opinion.

Here is the Live Aid performance in its entirety. Enjoy!

What is your favourite U2 song?

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The other night I was watching U2‘s “Rattle and Hum” DVD. It is one of my favourite music DVDs, and one of my regrets is that I didn’t see U2 in concert during this time. I did see them at Live Aid in London in 1985 (when I thought they were one of the best acts), and I also saw them in 1997 during the “Popmart tour“, but I do regret not seeing them during the 1987 Joshua Tree tour from which Rattle and Hum is taken.

For me, one of the hightlights of this DVD is their performance of their 1983 hit “Sunday Bloody Sunday“. This is because they show the version U2 did on the very same day as the Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. On the 8th of November 1987, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed a remembrance day parade in the small town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, killing eleven people and injuring 63 people. The bombing is seen as a turning point in the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, such was the outrage against the attack. Bono, U2’s lead singer, talks on this day, when they were playing in Denver, Colorado, about the atrocity of the bombing as he introduces the song. The subsequent performance is charged with the tension, anger and sadness that Bono and the rest of the band clearly felt.

To give a little background to the title “Sunday Bloody Sunday“. There are, in fact, two “Bloody Sundays” in Irish history. The first Bloody Sunday happened on the 21st of November 1920, when 31 people were killed. Irish separatists killed 14 British troops in Dublin. In revenge, later the same day, the British Army (the Black and Tans) went into Croke Park stadium where a game of Gaelic Football was being played, and opened fire on the crowd, killing 14 members of the crowd. Later that evening, 3 IRA suspects were beaten and killed by their British captors. This was the first “Bloody Sunday”.

Bloody Sunday (1920), when 31 people (14 British and 17 Irish) were killed in the same day in Dublin.

The second Bloody Sunday happened in 1972. The British Army opened fire on unarmed protestors in Derry, Northern Ireland, killing 26 of them. I vividly remember seeing the footage of this on the evening news back in 1972.

A British soldier attacking a protestor during the 2nd Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972. 26 unarmed protestors were shot by British soldiers.

U2’s song is about the 2nd Bloody Sunday, the one in 1972. Or, to be more correct, it is about the horrors of a person witnessing “the troubles” in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s. It is seen as one of U2’s most political songs, and yet as Bono makes clear through an impassioned break during the performance shown below, it is an anti-war and anti-violence song. Mid-song, Bono says the following to the audience:

And let me tell you somethin’. I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home…and the glory of the revolution…and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead under the rubble of the revolution, that the majority of the people in my country don’t want.

To my mind, this performance is one of the seminal moments in rock music. It shows how powerful “pop music” can be, how it can be used for social commentary just as much as it can be used to sing about a boy and a girl falling in love. As an iconic moment, it is up there with the moment when a member of the audience in Bob Dylan‘s “Royal Albert Hall concert” in 1966 shouts “Judas” for Dylan daring to play a rock set, rather than his acoustic folk material. Music can be one of the most powerful tools for social change and social commentary that we have.

Which is your favourite U2 song?

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This year sees the 25th anniversary of the release of Paul Simon‘s Graceland album. It is one of my favourite albums of all time, and it is my favourite by Paul Simon, including his Simon & Garfunkel days (and, that means it is up against some pretty good albums like “There goes rhymin’ Simon” and “Bridge over troubled water“). To my mind, it is one of the greatest albums of all time, and certainly in a very short list of greatest albums of the 1980s, along with “The Joshua Tree” by U2, “Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush, and one or two others. Graceland won the 1987 Grammy for the best album of the year.


Paul Simon’s Graceland album was released in the autumn of 1986.

I remember first hearing Graceland from a bootleg tape I bought in Bangkok in October 1986. I liked it straight away, even though it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I think it was the first time I had really heard any “African” music, and I was breath-taken by the complex rhythms and melodies in the music. [For any authorities reading this, I have since bought the album on record, CD, and just a few weeks ago downloaded from iTunes the 25th Anniversary edition, so have more than paid my royalty fees to Paul Simon and Warner Brothers 🙂 ]

On Tuesday of last week (3rd of July 2012), the BBC broadcast a fascinating documentary called “Paul Simon’s Graceland – Under African Skies”. The programme in particular looked at the album’s impact on the struggle going on at the time for South African liberation under the racist Apartheid system, but it also talked about the recording process for some of the songs.

Whether Paul Simon helped or hindered the cause for South African blacks’ liberation is a very interesting debate. Yes, he broke the UN embargo on cultural exchanges with South Africa, and flew in the face of the desires of the African National Congress and Artists Against Apartheid. But, as he points out in this documentary, he was invited by black musicians to go there and play music with them, and certainly his album Graceland brought this “township music” to an audience it would never otherwise have reached. I myself had not heard any African or South African music before I heard Graceland, but soon after I bought an album by LadySmith Black Mambazo. I have since gone on to buy albums by the Bhundu Boys, The Four Brothers and John Chibadura.

There is an excellent series of programmes available via the BBC Radio 3 website called “World Music“. Personally my two favourites are the ones Andy Kershaw made on South African music, Kershaw in South Africa, and on Zimbabwean music, Kershaw in Zimabwe.

My favourite song on the Graceland album is “Under African Skies“, although after saying that there is not a song that I don’t like. But, this one stands slightly higher in my liking than the others. The original version of the album has Linda Ronstadt duetting with Paul Simon. In fact, Simon specifically wrote the verse which begins

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ’round my nursery door
I said take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more

for Ronstadt, as Ronstadt grew up in Tuscon, AZ..

The other version of this song that I adore is the version performed by Paul Simon in the Graceland concenrt he did in Harare, Zimbabwe. For this song he invites “mama Africa”, Miriam Makeba, onto stage to sing with him. Here is a YouTube clip of this version.

Is Graceland the best album Paul Simon has done? Is it the best album of the 1980s? What is your favourite Graceland song?

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Are you experienced?

Last week, as mentioned in my previous post, I went to see Bob Dylan in concert in Cardiff. He finished his set with the song Rolling Stone Magazine readers voted the greatest rock song of all time, “Like A Rolling Stone“. His penultimate song was “All Along The Watchtower“, which he originally recorded on his 1967 album “John Wesley Harding“.

Soon after Dylan recorded this song, Jimi Hendrix recorded a very different version on his album Electric Ladyland. Apparently, upon hearing Hendrix’s version, Dylan said he preferred the cover, and from then on performed it more like Hendrix’s cover version than his own, original version.

In the 1987 U2 film “Rattle & Hum”, the band performs “All Along the Watchtower” in an impromptu live performance in San Francisco, from the back of a flat-bed truck. If the dialogue before they go out is to be believed, U2 haven’t even practiced the song before they go out, and spend 2-3 minutes trying to figure out the chords to the song.

Most people prefer the Hendrix or U2 versions to Bob Dylan’s original. I love those versions, but to me the Bob Dylan original version is my favourite. Why? Because of its starkness, its simplicity. The lyrics only amount to 12 lines, but this is Rolling Stone Magazine‘s description of the song in its May 2011 edition (where it lists the 70 Greatest Bob Dylan songs – “All Along the Watchtower” comes in at number 5).

You could say that jokes and theft are the twin poles of Dylan’s art, and this 12-line masterpiece about a joker (who believes he’s being robbed) and a thief (who thinks everything’s a joke) penetrates straight to the core of his work. “Watchtower” is among Dylan’s most haunting tunes: Built around an austere arrangement and Dylan’s spooked croon, it starts out like a ballad that’s going to go on for a long while. But as soon as the joker and the thief get their opening statements, the song ends with an ominous image – two riders approaching – leaving listeners to fill in the blanks.

Jimi Hendrix’s definite reading of “Watchtower” is one of the few Dylan covers that has permanently affected the way Dylan himself plays the song. Hendrix started recording his cover within weeks of John Wesley Harding‘s release, fleshing out the song into something stunningly intense. “He played [my songs] the way I would have done them if I was him,” Dylan later said of Hendrix.

Here are the lyrics of this masterpiece, all 12 lines of them.

There must be some way out of here” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

“No reason to get excited”, the thief he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

So, which is your favourite? Dylan’s, Hendrix’s or U2’s?

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