Flashback Friday: “One” by U2

U2-Achtung-BabyAs with last week’s Flashback Friday selection “Enjoy the Silence,” the song “One” by U2 also defined my early adolescence.

The first U2 song I remember listening to was “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (while actually knowing it was U2). I was having my 10th birthday party slumber party, and we had VH1 playing in the background (because MTV was forbidden – it was too “vulgar”). While my friends chatted about cute boys in our 4th grade class, I remember watching the video, mesmerized by Bono’s voice and alluring eyes. In the video, the band walks around Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and show a bit of a softer side to the rock band. Because it was in the days before YouTube, I didn’t have a way to just look up the video and watch more songs. But I always kept my eye out for U2 videos like “With or Without You.”

1n 1991, U2 released their “Achtung Baby” album, and that was the first U2 album I purchased. U2 has been my favorite band since 1992. Although I have other bands dear to my heart, such as Keane and The Beatles, I don’t always want to listen to the others. The song that immediately drew me in was “One.” The lyrics were so deep and could be interpreted in so many different ways.

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

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 tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other

u2 achtung baby 1991So what is the meaning behind the song “One”? The song was formulated right as East Germany and West Germany were reuniting. They recorded sessions in Berlin in late 1990. Bono recalls that “the melody, the structure—the whole thing was done in 15 minutes,” and the lyrics “just fell out of the sky, a gift”. “One” was inspired by the band members’ fracturing relationships, the German reunification, and Bono’s skepticism of the hippie idea of “oneness”. It was released as a single to benefit AIDS research. It is often used to promote human rights and social justice causes, and Bono named his charitable organization, the ONE Campaign, after the song.

“One” has been played at every single one of U2′s concerts since 1992. And it’s always a crowd favorite. One of my most special experiences with the song was belting it out with the rest of the crowd at Rice Stadium in 1997, during the Pop Mart tour.

One life, with each other
Sisters, brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
One

Have you ever sung along to “One” at a U2 concert?

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