Inspirational Music - One - U2

Inspirational Music - One - U2

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‘One’ by U2 is a mesmerising song. I can’t really put it into words what it means to me, as it means so much.

Bittersweet, universal, spine-tingling. It’s one of U2’s most well-known tracks and a centrepiece in their gigs. When the band plays it, the whole place sings.

It is on the band’s 1991 critically acclaimed album Achtung Baby, recorded in Berlin’s famous Hansa studio, London and Dublin. The song’s meaning is open to interpretation, and many people assign it different meanings. 

1) The song could relate to reunification of Germany, where the band recorded a large part of it.

2) It could be about the dissolution of The Edge’s (lead guitarist) marriage to Aislinn O’Sullivan. The couple was having problems in their relationship and split soon after the sessions. Bono (lead singer) was the best man at their wedding.

3) It could be about the band putting their differences aside and coming together to make the album.

4) Bono may have been writing about his good friend, the Irish painter Guggi, who was having girl trouble.

5) The song could represent a conversation between a gay son and his conservative, religious father.

It’s the latter interpretation that Bono says is the original subject when he wrote the lyrics:

“It’s a father-and-son story. I tried to write about someone I knew who was coming out and was afraid to tell his father. It’s a religious father and son... I have a lot of gay friends, and I’ve seen them screwed up from unloving family situations, which just are completely anti-Christian. If we know anything about God, it’s that God is love. That’s part of the song. And then it’s also about people struggling to be together, and how difficult it is to stay together in this world, whether you’re in a band or a relationship.”

The Edge said: 

“The lyric was the first in a new, more intimate style. It’s two ideas, essentially. On one level it’s a bitter, twisted, vitriolic conversation between two people who’ve been through some nasty, heavy stuff: ‘We hurt each other, then we do it again.’ But on another level, there’s the idea that ‘we get to carry each other.’ ‘Get to’ is the key. ‘Got to’ would be too obvious and platitudinous. ‘Get to’ suggests it is our privilege to carry one another. It puts everything in perspective and introduces the idea of grace.”

The thing about all great songs is they can be relatable to many people, whatever meaning we ascribe to them. This is my all-time favourite song. I hope you enjoy it too. 

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