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POP MUSIC : U2's Pride (In the Name of Songs) : Achtung, babies: Bono and Edge evaluate one critic's choices for the group's 10 best recordings, from 'I Will Follow' to 'One'

September 12, 1993|ROBERT HILBURN | Robert Hilburn is The Times' pop music critic

Edge: It came out of an improvisation in the studio. I was playing some piano, Danny picked up rhythm guitar, Larry (drummer Mullen) and Adam joined in. The actual improvisation lasted about 15 minutes. Bono threw in melodic ideas. I like it a lot.

Bono: It was about a heroin problem in Dublin. The seven towers in the song is the place just behind where I grew up, what you call a housing project, with seven high towers. That would be in my personal Top 5.


From "Rattle and Hum" (1988)

Edge: I really like the song, but I regret that we didn't make it more our own sonically. At the time, we were exploring folk and blues and these different musical traditions, and we didn't want to tamper with them.

Bono: I disagree. I think the fact that the track is so musically spare suits it. I was in Los Angeles and I woke up with a very bad hangover, and the words and the melody were just going around in my head. I asked Edge later if he had ever heard it, if it was some old song. In fact, I thought it might be a Bob Dylan song.

I was going out to see him that day and I asked him if it was his, and he said no. But we sat down and finished it together.


From "Achtung Baby" (1991)

Edge: There was this idea going around during the session that distracting musicians during the course of playing can sometimes, especially on solos, knock the musician out of a predictable path, so they were trying to knock me about and I was not enjoying this concept at all. So I stopped and more or less told them to leave me alone. Then I put down the solo that we ended up using, and it's one of my favorites.

Bono: It was written for Nina Simone and we just started playing it one night and the band liked it, so we decided to put it on the album. But the best thing about the record is Edge's guitar playing. To me, it's like a prayer.


From "Achtung Baby"

Edge: It was a very pivotal song in the recording of the album--the first sort of breakthrough in what was an extremely difficult set of sessions in Berlin. I like the lyric a lot because it treads a very fine line between becoming too clear, too jingoistic, but in the end it never does. . . . It stays personal.

Bono: We spoke about this before. It is a song about coming together, but it's not the old hippie idea of "Let's all live together." It is, in fact, the opposite. It's saying, "We are one, but we're not the same." It's not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It's a reminder that we have no choice.

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