Clips & Pix: U2/Pride (In the Name of Love)

One man come in the name of love/One man come and go/One man come here to justify/One man to overthrow…

As the U.S. observes Martin Luther King Day today, it felt right to feature this tune. Pride (In the Name of Love) may have been over-exposed. It’s certainly been criticized for its lyrics, as have U2 for their grandiose concerts. I can also see why Bono’s frequent political activism for hunger, the poor and other causes while becoming a very wealthy man in the course of it all can rub people the wrong way. And yet I’ve always loved this song.

Bono’s singing is simply amazing, while The Edge provides a cool and unique guitar sound that’s truly signature. While the lyrics may not teach a lot about Dr. King, I still believe the words are powerful. And, call me naive, I also believe being a force for good while becoming rich don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

…In the name of love/One more in the name of love/In the name of love/
One more in the name of love…

Pride (In the Name of Love), composed by U2 with lyrics by Bono, is a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. The lyrics were inspired by U2’s visit of the Chicago Peace Museum in 1983, which featured an exhibit dedicated to the civil rights leader. Initially, Bono had intended to write a song criticizing then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan for his pride in America’s military might.

…One man caught on a barbed wire fence/One man he resist/One man washed up on an empty beach/One man betrayed with a kiss…

But as Songfacts notes, Bono came to the conclusion lyrics condemning Reagan weren’t working. “I remembered a wise old man who said to me, don’t try and fight darkness with light, just make the light shine brighter,” he told NME. “I was giving Reagan too much importance, then I thought Martin Luther King, there’s a man. We build the positive rather than fighting with the finger.”

…In the name of love/One more in the name of love/In the name of love/One more in the name of love…

The melody and chords to Pride were conceived during a soundcheck in November 1983 prior to a U2 show in Hawaii. It was a gig during the band’s supporting tour for their third studio album War that had been released in February of the same year. Like all U2 soundchecks, it was recorded. U2 continued work on the track after the tour and it was subsequently finished as part of the recording sessions for their next album The Unforgettable Fire.

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

Pride erroneously suggests Dr. King was shot in the early morning of April 4, 1968. The murder actually occurred just after 6:00 pm local Memphis time – a surprising mistake for Bono who seems to be well read. He later acknowledged his error and in concerts sometimes sings “early evening, April 4.” Why he simply didn’t make that a permanent adjustment beats me – rhythmically, I don’t see an issue.

…In the name of love/One more in the name of love/In the name of love/One more in the name of love…

Pride was first released in September 1984 as the lead single of The Unforgettable Fire, appearing one month ahead of the album. It was U2’s first major international hit, topping the charts in New Zealand; climbing to no. 2 and no. 3 in Ireland and the UK, respectively; and becoming the band’s first top 40 hit in the U.S.

…In the name of love/One more in the name of love/In the name of love/One more in the name of love.

Despite initially getting mixed reviews from music critics, Pride has since received many accolades. Haven’t we seen this movie many times before? The tune was ranked at no. 388 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in December 2003. Pride is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

8 thoughts on “Clips & Pix: U2/Pride (In the Name of Love)”

  1. I don’t know what they expect him to do? Give his money away and walk the streets? If people don’t want to listen to him…turn the sound down

    This is a great song. I forgot it was that early in their career.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Max. I think part of U2’s challenge is their enormous success. Unfortunately, sooner or later this triggers envy.

      Plus, Bono is an outspoken guy and an activist who will meet even with presidents, if he feels it advances the causes he supports. Some people simply cannot deal with this and think it’s self-aggrandizing behavior. Or they’re simply opposed to his politics!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get that he goes on and on at times but I won’t hold him being successful against him.

        Yea the politics are a whole other matter but like I said…if they don’t like it…turn the sound down…at least he is trying to help some people…


  2. Great post, until now I didn’t know the meaning of this song.
    I’m not a big fan of U2, but I have missed a concert and I saw the great movie “U2 3D” in a German cinema.
    My favourite song is “Staring At The Sun”.

    Greetinx, S.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I wouldn’t call myself an outright U2 fan either. I like a good deal of their songs, especially from their first six albums. I’m less fond of their more recent work.

      My favorite album is “The Joshua Tree” from 1987. I also really like their 1983 live album “Under a Blood Red Sky.”

      I did catch U2 live in July 2017 during their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour and have to say it was an amazing show.

      Warm regards from NJ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. While I admire the sympathies behind this song, neither this tune nor ‘Where the Streets Have No Name” do much for me. For me, neither of them comes close to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” which for me is one of the truly greatest rock/protest songs of all time. I saw them too a few years back and I thought they just tossed off “Sunday.” But still, a great band with a lot of really good songs. And Bono’s heart is in the right place. Beats the hell out of yet another Motley Crue jackoff swigging from a whiskey bottle and bragging about what a stud he is. Especially when you know he probably spent high school as a misfit getting shoved into a locker.

    Liked by 1 person

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