Music: War

And we can break through, though torn in two, we can be one.

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.


Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (4:38)
  2. "Seconds" (3:09)
  3. "New Year's Day" (5:38)
  4. "Like A Song..." (4:48)
  5. "Drowning Man" (4:12)

Side Two

  1. "The Refugee" (3:40)
  2. "Two Hearts Beat As One" (4:00)
  3. "Red Light" (3:46)
  4. "Surrender" (5:34)
  5. "40" (2:36)


Principal Members:

  • 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 immune
    When fact is fiction and TV reality
    And today the millions die
    We eat and drink while tomorrow they die!
  • Arc Words and Book Ends: 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 Lord
    He inclined and heard my cry
    He brought me up out of the pit
    Out of the miry clay
  • Atomic Hate: "Seconds".
    Push the button and pull the plug
    Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh
    Fall, rise and...Fall, rise and...
    And they're doing the atomic bomb
    Do they know where the dance comes from?
  • Black and White Morality: "Two Hearts Beat As One" attacks this mindset.
    I don't know
    I don't know which side I'm on
    I don't know my right from left
    Or my right from wrong
    Say I'm a fool
    You say I'm not for you
    But if I'm a fool for you
    Oh, that's something
    (...) I don't know
    How to say what's got to be said
    I don't know if it's black or white
    There's others see it red
    I don't get the answers right
    I'll leave that to you
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is in black and white.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Surrender"
    Sadie said she couldn't work out
    What it was all about
    And so she let go
    Now Sadie's on the street
    And the people she meets you know
    She tried to be a good girl and a good wife
    Raise a good family
    Lead a good life
    It's not good enough
    She got herself up on the 48th floor
    Gotta find out
    Find out what she's living for
  • Heavy Meta: "Like A Song"
    Like a song I have to sing
    I sing it for you
  • New Sound Album: Compared to their earlier albums this record way more political and confrontational.
  • 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 message
    Take my hand
    You know I'll be there
    If you can
    I'll cross the sky for your love
    Give you what I hold dear
  • The Power of Love: "Two Hearts Beat As One" and "Red Light".
  • 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 immune
    When fact is fiction and TV reality
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: 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 has dissolved since 1991.
  • War Is Hell: A huge theme
    • "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
    And the battle's just begun
    There's many lost, but tell me who was won?
    The trench is dug within our hearts
    And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart!
    • "The Refugee""
    Her papa go to war
    He gonna fight
    But he don't know what for?
    • "Like A Song"
    And we love to wear a badge, a uniform
    And we love to fly a flag
    But I won't...let others live in hell
    As we divide against each other
    And we fight amongst ourselves
    Too set in our ways to try to rearrange
    Too right to be wrong, in this rebel song


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