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U2 History - Part 3

After a hectic and successful tour, U2 settled down to record music for their second album "October". One of their songs "Fire" was already completed during a rest period they had while performing in America. The song was recorded in a studio in the Bahamas used by artists signed up by Island records.

Just when things appeared to go smoothly, Bono realized that he had lost his notes for the songs and the briefcase that stored them while on tour in America. Either his case was stolen by two girls who had entered the studio, or Bono had simply misplaced it, no one really knows. Nevertheless, U2 were sent into a tailspin and the making of their new record became a constant struggle against time and commitment for the band and the producer Steve Lillywhite.
U2 had a three week deadline to meet for the new record, which did not allow for much time to write the songs. For each recording session, U2 and the producer were under immense pressure to deliver the results. Bono - "I had a choice, panic or meet the situation. Maybe that's how I should work; every time I put pen to paper my head gets in the way anyhow. The pressure was enormous. Lillywhite himself has said it was the hardest record he has ever worked on in his life. I'd come in and he'd quietly say, "Sing?? I'd say, "no, it's not right today." The pressure was so ridiculous that one day our manager asked Lillywhite if he'd dealt with another band that worked like us. Lillywhite put his head on his hands and sighed". The song "Gloria" tended to reflect this situation, where Bono asks God to help him sing - "I try to speak up/ But only in you I'm complete".

Musical issues aside, the band members Bono, Larry and the Edge, had to juggle their music life with Christianity. They were already involved with a Christian sect called Shalom where they hoped would help them better understand Christianity. Their involvement in Shalom had a negative affect the band's commitment toward music, a fact which McGuiness flatly pointed out to the group and something he thought would not have contributed greatly to producing their album. In addition, Adam would have also been a focal point as he did not belong to any religion, had he not respected their views on religion during this time. It was this religious journey that inspired the music on October.

In October 1981, their new album "October" was released. The result of "October" was a much improvised album with many of the songs being sung instead of being written beforehand. In contrast to "Boy", "October" examined the themes of the living spirit, human nature and Christianity which were evident in songs such as "Gloria" and "October". But spirituality was to be examined across many more levels. "Gloria" examined the spiritual nature in providing confidence for the band in expressing their beliefs. "October" looked at spirituality as a source for continuing life that whenever "kingdoms" fell, one will always rise in its place. Spirituality could also be seen at work in "Is that all" where Bono asks God about where his life could be directing him, does he sing to make people happy, sad or dance, or is there something more he must achieve to make his life more complete?

And there is also "Tomorrow", where Bono seeks to rationalize the death of his mother with God so that he can be given the strength to continue on with his life and look towards the future with optimism. As with any other inexperienced band, U2 made the mistake of mixing this theme of hope with heavy-edged rock 'n' roll, thus spoiling the overall beauty of the song.
On the other hand, U2 also wrote about the tensions in Northern Ireland in "Stranger in a Strange land". It examines human nature from a different angle, how one is treated as an outcast of another because of what they believe in and the loneliness that is triggered due to such treatment.

U2 further explore the dark side of human behavior with "I threw a brick through a window" where all belief in life and destiny is lost and the main antagonist is left to react against their own "reflection". In contrast to the positive aspects of human nature, this song also showed its destructive nature when all vision and hope is lost, leaving one defenseless because they have lost their will to live.

But fans who bought "Boy" were disappointed, even though the album managed to make it into the UK top 20. Many critics questioned the overall structure of the songs and the musical style in the album, contributed by the lack of preparation and fine-tuning of the record. Fortunately for U2, this had no damage on their attendances at live performances with many of the UK dates selling out.

U2 Articles

The History of U2

The History of U2 - Part 1
The History of U2 - Part 2
The History of U2 - Part 3
The History of U2 - Part 4
The History of U2 - Part 5
The History of U2 - Part 6
The History of U2 - Part 7
The History of U2 - Part 8
The History of U2 - Part 9
The Story of U2

The Story of U2 - Part 1
The Story of U2 - Part 2
The Story of U2 - Part 3
The Story of U2 - Part 4
The Story of U2 - Part 5
The Story of U2 - Part 6
The Story of U2 - Part 7
The Story of U2 - Part 8
U2 News & More

U2 - January 1993
U2 - Worlds Most Popular Rock Act
U2 Earnings - 2001
U2 In Africa
U2 Performs for iPod Commercial
U2 Gets Replacement Recording Studio
U2 Article Index




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