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All That You Can't Leave Behind is the tenth studio album of U2, released in the fall of 2000. The album represented U2's mostly successful bid to Win Back the Crowd by returning to a mainstream rock sound after its '90s experiments Zooropa and Pop alienated many fans. It spawned the singles "Beautiful Day" (one of the band's biggest hits), "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of," "Elevation," and "Walk On." The album and its associated singles won a total of seven Grammys.

The recording and production of the album were delayed due to Bono's increased activism, something the rest of the band viewed as a distraction. Nevertheless, the group quickly reunited with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who had produced The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby, solidifying U2's return to form. The record came together effortlessly, thanks to the group's embrace of former styles such as The Edge's signature, atmospheric guitar tones, which he had abandoned during The '90s. While keeping newer techniques such as synthesizers and electronic drum beats on "New York" and "Beautiful Day," the band branched out and used acoustic guitars and pianos on "Stuck in a Moment" and "Wild Honey" to convey a more simplistic sound throughout the record.

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It is considered a pivotal album for the band since it distanced them from the more experimental conceits of the previous decade. Rolling Stone listed All You Can't Leave Behind as the #139 greatest album of all time in 2003, though it later dropped to #280 in 2012. The group's ensuing tour, the "Elevation Tour," became massively successful thanks in part to their performance at the NFL Super Bowl halftime show, where they honored the victims of the 9/11 attacks.


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Track listing:

  1. "Beautiful Day" (4:06)
  2. "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" (4:32)
  3. "Elevation" (3:45)
  4. "Walk On" (4:55)
  5. "Kite" (4:23)
  6. "In a Little While" (3:39)
  7. "Wild Honey" (3:47)
  8. "Peace on Earth" (4:46)
  9. "When I Look at the World" (4:15)
  10. "New York" (5:28)
  11. "Grace" (5:31)

Different editions of the album include one or more bonus tracks:

  1. "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" (3:44)
  2. "Summer Rain"
  3. "Always"
  4. "Big Girls Are the Best"

Personnel:

  • Bono – vocals, guitar, synthesisers
  • The Edge – guitar, piano, vocals, synthesisers, strings
  • Adam Clayton – bass guitar
  • Larry Mullen Jr. – drums, percussion

Stuck in a trope, and you can't get out of it

  • Album Title Drop: The title appears in the talk-sing intro to "Walk On":
    The only baggage you can bring
    is all that you can't leave behind.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Divine grace is visualized as a woman in "Grace."
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Some editions include the bonus track "Big Girls Are the Best."
  • The Big Rotten Apple: "New York" is a sort of affectionate example, describing the city as a hotbed of temptations for a family man having a midlife crisis.
  • BSoD Song: "Peace on Earth" was written after the 1998 Omagh bombing. "The closest I ever came to a crisis of faith happened after that," Bono said later, and it shows.
  • Carpe Diem: The theme of the bonus track "Summer Rain":
    If you stop taking chances
    You stay where you sit
    You won't live any longer
    But it'll feel like it.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Alluded to in "In a Little While":
    That girl, that girl, she's mine
    Well I've known her since
    Since she was a little girl with Spanish eyes
    When I saw her in a pram they pushed her by
    Woohoo, my how you've grown!
  • The Dead Have Names: "Peace on Earth" reels off the first names of five of the 29 victims of the Omagh bombing, "the folks the rest of us won't get to know."
  • Death Song/God Is Love Song: "In a Little While" wasn't intended to be this, but shortly after the album's release the band learned that Joey Ramone had listened to it on his deathbed. Since Ramone was one of their musical heroes, performances thereafter treated this as Ascended Fanon.
    In a little while this hurt will hurt no more
    I'll be home, love
    When the night takes a deep breath
    And the daylight has no air
    If I crawl, if I come crawling home,
    Will you be there?
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is a black-and-white photograph, recalling their '80s albums and contrasting with their day-glo '90s palette.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: U2 doesn't actually use a full choir on "Stuck in a Moment," but does use multiple voices in its gospel-flavored chorus.
  • The Great Flood: Subtly alluded to in a couplet from "Beautiful Day": "See the bird with a leaf in her mouth/After the flood all the colors came out." This evokes the sequence in the story of Noah where a bird carrying a twig proves that dry land is out there, and God sends a rainbow as a sign of his promise not to destroy the earth again.
  • Grief Song: "Stuck in a Moment" is an unusual example of a Grief Song combined with a Pep-Talk Song, as it represents what Bono wished he'd said to Michael Hutchence before he killed himself.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Mentioned in "Peace on Earth": "And you become a monster/So the monster will not break you."
  • Location Song: "New York."
  • Mood Whiplash: "Wild Honey," a lighthearted love song, was deliberately put in to break up the album's heavy mood. This is especially striking since it comes right before "Peace on Earth."
  • New Sound Album: The band deliberately did a 180 from their last album Pop which was dark and heavy on the electronica. In some ways it was a return to their old straight-ahead rock sound, though it doesn't have the post-punk or roots-music flavors of the 1980s albums.
  • One-Woman Song: Played with in "Grace": it's an ode to a woman who's actually an Anthropomorphic Personification of divine grace.
  • One-Word Title: "Elevation," "Kite," "Grace," and "Always."
  • Orphean Rescue: "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," with lyrics by Salman Rushdie, is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It describes the lead-up to the rescue attempt rather than the rescue itself, however.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Stuck in a Moment" (see Grief Song above) and "Walk On." The latter was originally written for Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but after 9/11 it became a Pep-Talk Song for all of America.
    And if your glass heart should crack
    And for one second you turn back
    Oh no, be strong...
  • Pun: In the middle of the uplifting "Walk On," Bono sneaks in a sour joke: "Home, it's where the hurt is."
  • Rage Against the Heavens: "Peace on Earth" is directed straight to the Big Guy:
    Jesus, sing a song you wrote
    The words are sticking in my throat
    Peace on Earth
    Hear it every Christmas time
    But hope and history won't rhyme
    So what's it worth
    This peace on Earth
  • Second-Person Narration: Used in "Beautiful Day," though it switches briefly to first person in the "touch me..." verse.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Played with in "Beautiful Day," which mixes conventionally awe-inspiring images with some unconventional ones:
    See the world in green and blue
    See China right in front of you
    See the canyons broken by clouds
    See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
    See the Bedouin fires at night
    See the oil fields at first light...
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