Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Unforgettable Fire

Go To
''If I could through myself set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away'
Nothing like love
There's nothing like love

Nobody like you
There's nobody like you

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
"Pride (In the Name of Love)"

The Unforgettable Fire is the fourth studio album recorded by Irish rock band U2. It was released through Island Records on 1 October 1984.

Not wanting to be written off as another Arena Rock band and seeking to find a more artistic sound, the band sought producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. But just because they wanted something more artistic didn't mean they sought to mute their social messaging: for one, the title is inspired by an art exhibit about the bombing of Hiroshima.

What was intended to be a month-long recording session at Slane Castle in County Meath dragged on into the summer, and moved to Windmill Lane, Dublin.

Although the album hit a roadblock in their native Ireland, only reaching #53 on the album chart there, it roughly matched the numbers for War in the United Kingdom (double-Platinum, #1 on the OCC album chart) and the United States (triple-Platinum, #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart).

The album spawned two singles: "Pride (In the Name of Love)", and the Title Track. The title track would be U2's first #1 single in Ireland, while both singles would go well into the Top 10 in the United Kingdom (#3 and #6, respectively). And "Pride", a song that saluted American civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would be their first pop hit there, reaching #33 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album was remastered for its 25th anniversary, released through Mercury Records on 27 October 2009. Four different versions were released, including a new vinyl album; the remastered CD release; a deluxe CD collection with a bonus CD of B-sides and live tracks; and a limited edition that added a DVD and a hardback book.


Side One
  1. "A Sort of Homecoming" (5:28)
  2. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (3:48)
  3. "Wire" (4:19)
  4. "The Unforgettable Fire" (4:55)
  5. "Promenade" (2:35)

Side Two

  1. "4th of July" (2:12)
  2. "Bad" (6:09)
  3. "Indian Summer Sky" (4:17)
  4. "Elvis Presley and America" (6:23)
  5. "MLK" (2:31)

Sleep. Sleep tonight. And may your tropes be realized:

  • Alternate Album Cover: Cassette editions used a different shot of the band in front of Slane Castle.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Bad" is about a childhood friend of Bono who had died of a heroin overdose. "Wire" also seems to reference drug addiction.
  • Epic Rocking: "Bad" and "Elvis Presley and America" both breach six minutes.
  • Instrumentals: "4th of July" is an ambient instrumental that was improvised by The Edge and Adam Clayton in the studio.
  • Lighter and Softer: The album is this to War, featuring a less aggressive sound, glossier production, and elements of ambient music, all courtesy of Brian Eno.
  • New Sound Album: The band's sound shifts to the denser, more atmospheric arrangements that would become a hallmark of their work going forward, owed to the fact that this was their first album with ambient pioneer Brian Eno as producer.
  • Shout-Out: "Pride" and "MLK" both contain allusions to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Title Track: "The Unforgettable Fire"'
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Elvis Presley and America" is a particularly notable example, as all of the lyrics and the melody were improvised on the first take by Bono as he listened to the backing track for the first time.