Wednesday, October 06, 2004

............... The Bomb Squad

U2's track-by-track guide to 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb'
Q magazine, October 02, 2004


U2 as garage band. Over power chords, Bono sings about boys who play rock 'n' roll. Adam Clayton: "It was originally called Native Son and had a very different feel. Bono and Edge rewrote it when we started work with Steve Lillywhite. The bass and drums have a little bit of Echo & the Bunnymen in there -- a nice wink to where we came from."

Miracle Drug

The sort of wide-eyed anthem that should by now carry a U2 patent. Bono: "It started off being about the Irish writer Christopher Nolan, who was at our school (Nolan, who was born with cerebral palsy, won the 1988 Whitbread Prize for his autobiographical novel Under the Eyes of the Clock). But in a more oblique way it's probably as much about AIDS and the drugs developed to arrest it. I couldn't write specifically about that without feeling an idiot."

Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own

Bono on his father's death. As stately and emotive as "One." Bono: "There's a line, 'You're the reason I have the operas in me.' My old man was a beautiful tenor. He was this working-class guy who loved opera. He used to sit conducting the stereo with knitting needles."

Love and Peace or Else

As close as U2 have come to being Led Zeppelin. The Edge: "I'm delighted about this one. It's been around since the last record. All we had was an amazing keyboard part of Brian [Eno]'s and a rhythm section Larry and Daniel [Lanois] had worked up. I fought for hours trying to figure out what to do with this fantastic raw track. We cracked it this time."

City of Blinding Lights

Back to the wide-open terrain of The Unforgettable Fire, via a vintage Edge motif. Bono: "It's a New York song. About going there for the first time. We were the first band to play Madison Square Gardens after 9/11. During 'Where the Streets Have No Name' the house lights came up and there were 20,000 people in tears. It was beautiful."

All Because of You

Three minutes of gleeful stomping and a likely single. Sample lyric: "I like the sound of my own voice." Adam Clayton: "Often when we have something which is straight rock it never goes anywhere -- we just keep churning it around. But this was one or two takes."

A Man and a Woman

Motown by way of the Rolling Stones' "Waiting on a Friend." Bono: "The sound of sitting on a stoop in New York in the summer. I wanted a song that rolled up the Clash and Marvin Gaye into one."

Crumbs From Your Table

The Edge breaks out "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"'s ringing guita. Bono rails at the AIDS crisis. Bono: "I went to speak to Christian fundamentalist groups in America to convince them to give money to fight AIDS in Africa. It was like getting blood from a stone. I told them about a hospice in Uganda where so many people were dying they had to sleep three to a bed. Sister Anne, who I mention in the song, works at that hospice. Her office is a sewer."

One Step Closer

Bono ponders the meaning of death over a hushed backdrop. Bono: "Noel Gallagher gave me that line. We were in Birmingham on the last U.K. tour. I was telling Noel my old man had lost his faith and didn't know where he was going. And Noel just said (adopts passable Mancunian drawl), 'Well he's one step closer to knowing, isn't he?' "

Original of the Species

A strident torch song. Contains the lines, "Some things you shouldn't get too good at/Like smiling, crying and celebrity." The Edge: "The last time I cried was listening to that song. It was a song Bono started on the last record about my daughter Holly. He's her godfather. The lyric became more universal. About being young and full of doubt about yourself. He probably won't agree, but I think it has connotations for Bono, looking back to when he was 20."


Quintessentially U2 -- from soaring chorus to a title that co-opts the Hebrew word for God. Bono: "I had the idea that no one can own Jerusalem, but everybody wants to put flags on it. The title's an ancient name that's not meant to be spoken. I got around it by singing it. I hope I don't offend anyone."

Fast Cars

Bizarrely, U2 come on like the house band in a Moroccan bazaar. Bono: "We did this on the very last day in the studio. It was really just for fun, but it came out so well it'll be an extra track on the record in some countries."

© Q magazine, 2004.