War is the third studio album by U2, released in 1983. At the time it surprised many for being a New Sound Album where the band grew the beard as songwriters. Many songs, including the hits "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day" were very political and directly referred to the civil war in Northern Ireland. It's widely regarded as their first classic album. The album was listed at nr. #223 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
- "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (4:38)
- "Seconds" (3:09)
- "New Year's Day" (5:38)
- "Like A Song..." (4:48)
- "Drowning Man" (4:12)
- "The Refugee" (3:40)
- "Two Hearts Beat As One" (4:00)
- "Red Light" (3:46)
- "Surrender" (5:34)
- "40" (2:36)
- Bono - lead vocals, guitar
- Adam Clayton - bass
- The Edge - guitar, backing and lead vocals, piano, bass
- Larry Mullen Jr. - drums
New Year's Tropes:
- Album Title Drop: While the album's title is fitting, the word is only mentioned in a line in "The Refugee" (the plural form, "wars," is heard in "New Year's Day").
- Apathetic Citizens: "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"And it's true we are immuneWhen fact is fiction and TV realityAnd today the millions dieWe eat and drink while tomorrow they die!
- Arc Words and Bookends: Both the anti violence/war songs "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "40" ask the question:How long must we sing this song?
- As the Good Book Says: "40" has lyrics based on Psalm 40 of the Bible.I waited patiently for the LordHe inclined and heard my cryHe brought me up out of the pitOut of the miry clay
- "Drowning Man" quotes from Isaiah 40:31.
- Atomic Hate: "Seconds".Push the button and pull the plugSay goodbye, oh, oh, ohFall, rise and...Fall, rise and...And they're doing the atomic bombDo they know where the dance comes from?
- Black and White Morality: "Two Hearts Beat As One" attacks this mindset.I don't knowI don't know which side I'm onI don't know my right from leftOr my right from wrongSay I'm a foolYou say I'm not for youBut if I'm a fool for youOh, that's something(...) I don't knowHow to say what's got to be saidI don't know if it's black or whiteThere's others see it redI don't get the answers rightI'll leave that to you
- "Like A Song..." attacks this even more pointedly (see the War Is Hell quote below).
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Surrender"Sadie said she couldn't work outWhat it was all aboutAnd so she let goNow Sadie's on the streetAnd the people she meets you knowShe tried to be a good girl and a good wifeRaise a good familyLead a good lifeIt's not good enoughShe got herself up on the 48th floorGotta find outFind out what she's living for
- Heavy Meta: "Like A Song"Like a song I have to singI sing it for you
- New Sound Album: Compared to their earlier albums this record way more political and confrontational.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Drowning Man" and "40" (the latter being the number of the psalm it was based on).
- One Man Song: "Drowning Man".
- One-Word Title: "War", but also the songs "Seconds" and "Surrender".
- Pep Talk Song: "New Year's Day", where the arrival of a new year is seen as a way to "begin again". "Drowning Man" also has an upbeat messageTake my handYou know I'll be thereIf you canI'll cross the sky for your loveGive you what I hold dear
- The Power of Love: "Two Hearts Beat As One" and "Red Light".
The storms will passIt won't be long nowThe storms will passBut my love lasts forever
- Also "Drowning Man":
- Protest Song: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" aimed at The Troubles in Northern Ireland, directly referencing the bloodbath of January 30, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland when 26 civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot dead by British soldiers. "New Year's Day" was inspired by the Polish solidarity movement which came into blossom in 1980 and provided a stance against the communist government.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: "Sunday Bloody Sunday"And it's true we are immuneWhen fact is fiction and TV reality
- Refrain from Assuming: If you only know it from the radio, you can be forgiven for assuming that "New Year's Day" is called "I Will Be With You Again."
- Ripped from the Headlines: This album directly references the civil war and religious wars that have divided Northern Ireland for decades. This was a very mature and commercially risky subject to tackle for a rock band, but U2 actually managed to get people talking about the subject. Yet, as Bono said himself on their Live Album "Under A Blood Red Sky", before playing "Sunday Bloody Sunday".There's been a lot of talk about this next song, maybe too much talk.
- Shout-Out: "Seconds" contains a clip from the 1982 documentary "Soldier Girls".
- Special Guest: Kid Creole and the Coconuts, best known for "Annie I'm Not Your Daddy", performed backing vocals on three of the tracks.
- Step Up to the Microphone: The Edge sings the first two stanzas of "Seconds".
- Thousand-Yard Stare: The child on the album cover, who consequently was the brother of a friend of Bono.
- Time Marches On: "Seconds" mentions the USSR, which dissolved in 1991.
- Title Only Chorus: "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Surrender" and "Two Hearts Beat as One."
- War Is Hell: A huge theme
And the battle's just begunThere's many lost, but tell me who was won?The trench is dug within our heartsAnd mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart!
- "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
Her papa go to warHe gonna fightBut he don't know what for?
- "The Refugee""
And we love to wear a badge, a uniformAnd we love to fly a flagBut I won't...let others live in hellAs we divide against each otherAnd we fight amongst ourselvesToo set in our ways to try to rearrangeToo right to be wrong, in this rebel song
- "Like A Song"
How long, do we sing this song...?How long, do we sing this song...?How long, do we sing this song...?