War ~U2 | Then and Now
War is U2’s 3rd studio album and today marks its 35th anniversary.
“The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
Sunday Bloody Sunday”
I was introduced to U2 via MTV. It was the video for, “New Years Day” and it was mind blowing. The film was black and white, and the scene was winter in and the Irish countryside, with flashes of WWII footage. This was so different from the glitz and colors of most bands and videos for that time period. This band was serious. They were also free.
“Takes a second to say goodbye, say goodbye
Takes a second to say goodbye, say goodbye
Oh, oh, oh, say bye-bye
Where you going to now?
Lightning flashes across the sky
East to West, do and die”
Not only was I taken in with what was playing out on the screen, I was arrested by what I was hearing. There are those rare occasions, musically, that when hear something for the first time, you know you’re hearing something very different, something very special. That was my experience with U2.
“Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers says, says
Say it’s true it’s true…
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one”
Playing guitar was something I thought about and toyed around with, but after hearing the Edge play with such freedom and emotion, I knew that I had to play guitar. It was as though the Edge was doing more than simply playing parts to songs. It was as if each chord and note he struck, were brush strokes on canvas. There was openness and space. He was truly painting pictures with the sounds he created. Combine that with the driving rhythm of Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton and Bono’s fervent voice and lyrics, and you have magic.
“Angry words won’t stop the fight
Two wrongs won’t make it right
A new heart is what I need
Oh, God make it bleed”
Obviously with an album titled, War the content will be centered around that subject. The album has been described as the record where the band “turned pacifism itself into a crusade.” They show us the tragedies and human effects of war, but also move beyond to point to our ability to change and point to our source of hope. U2 had no problems with singing about both our human destructiveness and the need for God. War is riddled with scripture references and mentions of a relational God.
“Hold on, and hold on tightly
Rise up, rise up with wings like eagles
You run, you run
You run and not grow weary”
That is one of the beautiful things about U2 and the War album, the freedom they displayed in their playing and their lyrics. There was a freedom to allow who they are to fill their music and they made no apologies about it. Whether it was the Edge expressing his anger through the riff on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or the band showing a bit of frantic energy on “Two Hearts Beat As One”, U2 let is flow.
“They say I’m a fool, they say I’m nothing
But if I’m a fool for you oh, that’s something”
War was a solid album then and is a solid album now. According to Wikipedia, “while [War] was poorly received by British critics at the time of release, War has since gained critical acclaim. In 2012, the album was ranked number 223 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time‘”. Though War is a harsher album than what most U2 fans are accustomed to, War will take you to U2’s roots.