Achtung Baby


  1. One is a song about the german population after the fall of the german wall in 1989 . Now they had to come together again to get one. Its about the families who split after the 2 world war.

    Gerrit feedback@voerde.globvill.de (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)

  2. Bono has thru the time dedicated this song to many diffrent things and the fans has added more still (homosexuals, HIV/Aids, Sarajevo, etc.) but I think Gerrit's opinion makes more sense. U2 seems to have dedicated One to a number of diffrent things during the years but I believe that Gerrit is correct when it comes to the original meaning. The me/I in the song is most probably an east-german talking to a west-german, and to my ears this interpretion makes perfectly sense both when you listen to the lyrics and looking in the CD-case (Trabbis, pictures from Berlin).

    Jonas Steverud (Maintainer of U2MoL) (contributed at an unknown date)

  3. The three videos to the song carry the many different meanings behind the lyrics and the mood. However, the story behind how the song was written in fact saved U2 from breakup. The band had spent some time discussing whether or not they had finally used up all of their creative energy and talent. Eventually, they decided that they probably had, and Bono went to the mic and began playing this song. The rest of the band began to play along, and they soon had a renewed faith in themselves. They completed the rest of the album afterwards.

    The meaning of the song-as stated lies in the videos. One meaning is a cry against AIDS. The version that shows the slow-mo running buffalos signifies this not only in how time and life are fleeting, but in that a member of the video team (I can't remember whether it was the choreographer or not) died a year or so later...of AIDS. This was also meant to be indicated in another version (the more commercially accepted) of Bono singing at a restaurant table. Originally, there were supposed to be transvestites and drags running around in the background, but they were dropped later. The third version of the video, showing the band in drag, was meant to bring all these meanings together. The lyrics are more represented with We're one, but we're not the same. This is shown by dual sexuality in everybody (the reason for the drag), the band playing in a circle, the see-saw (indicating imbalance and uniqueness), and even a small note about Bono's obsession with the sister he never had (the consistent showing of the old man, actually Bono's father, and the line about Sisters and Brothers).

    Ironically, this is the one song on Achtung Baby that U2 Producer Brian Eno hated most. It would turn out to be the album's hit song.

    Ilker Yucel oyucel@erols.com (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)

  4. One of the very best songs from U2 - like a flow with a sad mood. Allthough the whole Zooropa-tour is about consciousness of the media/political culture, I think the most songs from the album are rather personal, strongly influenced by separations - the Edge and other friends - and the topic is about love, that goes together with cruel, blindness, wawes of joy, wawes of regret. About the love that is the only important thing in life and yet it hurts, you cannot live it out without hurting the one you love. One is a song from a person, who cannot hold on to his lover anymore. Love has left. And he reflects her thoughts about it giving him the blame, and he defends himself asking a lot. But conclusion is that there is only hurt left, and therefore he has to separate. But the song gets the strength from the strong feeling of the longing to be one, without being the same. There is this longing like an ideal, like a vision to live in one love, one blood, one need, the vision of the tensions to be overcome, when we carry each other. So sadness with anger and selfdefence go together with a longing, a vision. Thereby you feel the depth of the pain and you see the hard work you have to do yourself to care for your own love. And to the visionary part, Bono remembers, I think, Jesus telling his disciples, that they have to be One, like he is to his Father.

    Joergen Lasgaard lasgaard@vip.cybercity.dk ( 4:th of December 1998)

  5. I seem to remember reading an interview with Bono around the time the song was released in which he said that it dealt with the subjects of love, homosexuality, and AIDS. Also, the cover of the single has a painting of a buffalo running off a cliff. On the back, it is explained that this is a painting by a gentleman who is HIV positive (I can't remember his name) and that this painting and many others that he has done are about homosexuality and AIDS.

    Eric Jacobsen ejj1@geneseo.edu(10:th of May 2000)

  6. As stated in the previous comments about the songs meaning, I do agree with the comments regarding AIDS, a relationship, and the conflict in Germany. The interpretation which stands out the most deals with AIDS. I recall when the single featuring buffalos running off a cliff was released, proceeds went to benefit an AIDS project. I also think that there is more to the lyrics than just being about AIDS. By watching the video featuring a father and a son, I the song might be more directed towards a homosexual man whose father has given up hope on him. The lyrics "we are one, but we are not the same," refer to the parental bonds between them, yet the son is a homosexual. Also judging from the time period when this song was released, AIDS was scaring a great deal of the population, and it was a big scare in the gay population. Judging from the sad tone of the song, the son might soon die without reconciling with his father.

    Laurie Bugajski llb193@psu.edu (21:st of February 2000)

  7. I was looking for a story referred to at U2.com. They mention that One was written after Bono and Ali's honeymoon (197_?) and "makes an appearance on the war album".

    I do remember at the time it was released there was an interview with Bono, in which he stated that "One" was a conversation between a father and son. The conversation takes place soon after the son reveals that he is homosexual and has contracted HIV. The point of view is the son talking to the father. I think as with all U2 songs, Bono deliberately leaves the lyrics open to interpretation by the listener.

    Brett bkthiess@yahoo.com (17:th of May 2001)

  8. I had the pleasure of working with engineer Keven Killen, who worked on the record with Flood, and we got to be friends. I asked him what the song was about, and he told me it was about Bono's relationship with his father, which would tend to lend credence to the last paragraph of [Brett's] post.

    Gil Griffith gil@wavedistribution.com (31:st of August 2002)

  9. I was watching VH1 Truespin where they interview the artist and ask the real meaning of the song. Bono told them that people always think its about AIDS, but that is not what it is intended to be about. Bono says that the band was having a real tough time creativity wise and was falling apart. Him and the band were fighting and arguing all the time; hence the quote We hurt each other and we'll do it again Bono assured everyone that that was the real meaning. After they wrote One and realized what they created, there creativity slump was over. The band stopped fighting and continued to record the amazing and mind-blowing album which we now recognize as Achtung Baby.

    Alex Barnett zooropa1310@yahoo.com (26:th of November 2003)

  10. Without a doubt that their creativity crisis was instantly over after grasping the true intention of the song they wrote. I am sure to say that while writing such a song it is somewhat clear what One wants to get across. However after writing One and realizing the global truth in the lyric was an revelation. Not only were their own petty quarrels proven useless. All disagreement in the world seemed ridicules. Therefore also reason the more to continue U2 'cause the reason why they started once became clear again. And what better way to have some influence.

    The thoughts while writing the song:

    1. The senselessness of argument in the first place.
    2. How people loose themselves in wanting to be right, just or unjust.
    3. And how, only to achieve the latter, you end-up destroying everything you love.
    4. The choice you have to be one alone or one together with every-man.
    5. That the past is neither the future nor today.

    In an attempt to verbalize and explain their own predicament, One turned out to be more than that. And thus perceptible to widespread interpretations.

    I try to point out in very soft terms that the song isn't open to any interpretation. The fact that people try to explain the song to their own 'benefit' proves that even-though they try to listen they still don't get it. For many a tall order but to realize that the only way to get ahead is to be ONE despite all our petty problems. Instead of putting your own misery on a higher plain to get (some) attention, of which you think you want and deserve, make the salvation of an unbreakable unity the highest law. Competing for the 'sorrow-world-record' will keep everybody down. Why all shout out how short the straw is they pulled. Try to see what you can win. Instead of only looking at what you have lost. Only then can you become ONE with yourself and others.

    Dries de Boers driesign@chello.nl (14:th of August 2004)

  11. 'It amazes me when people tell me they played it at their wedding or for comfort at a funeral,' Bono says. 'I go to myself, "Are you crazy? It's about breaking up." ' (Los Angeles Times, 8:th of August 2004)

    Jonas Steverud (Maintainer of U2MoL) ( 3:th of January 2005)

  12. U2's One is about the politics within Northern Ireland, with references to the different cultures on one island: "We're one but we're not the same", along with the overt religious references, digging up the past: "Have you come here for forgiveness Have you come to raise the dead Have you come here to play Jesus To the lepers in your head", as well as the pasterol "sisters, brothers".

    During the summer of 1993, I have had several occasions to meet Adam Clayton, and his brother Sebasian, in the Baggott Inn while my band were playing there. I took these oppertunities to query (in as little an intrusive way as possible) various bits and bobs with Adam, including what "One" was written about. Along with a few humerous remarks ("Don't ask me, I'm just the bass player!"), he suggested that Bono wrote the lyrics about a breakup, but the religious references, to Adam, were apparantly referenced to Northen Ireland, especially with Bono's parents being of a mixed marriage.

    Dave Griffith, david.griffith@publicjobs.ie (22nd of November 2005)

  13. In reference to Ilker Yucel's contribution, I'd like to point out that the video in which the band members dress in drag was actually the first video (directed by Anton Corbijn) for the song. As a large amount of proceeds from sales of the single were going to AIDS charities, another video was shot to avoid controversy (the band didn't want to be accused of implying that gay sex was the main cause of AIDS). This second version was the one with the buffalos (which, incidentally, originated from a photograph taken by David Wojnarowicz, a gay artist who died of AIDS). This video, however, was considered too abstract for mass audiences. Hence, a third video was shot by Phil Joanou - the where Bono is in a bar. Ironically, it was criticized for being too commercial - too much like a Heineken commercial, in fact.

    The above information was taken from a documentary entitled A Story Of One, part of U2's The Best Of 1990 - 2000 dvd.

    Also, this being the song that "saved U2", its lyrics are, characteristically, open to interpretation. Its ambiguity is a significant part of its immense popularity. The most basic interpretation of the song is that it's about two people who are very much in love but hurt each other too much to continue the relationship and are confronting their issues. There are several other possible meanings, including the one suggesting that it is about a gay son confessing to his father that he is HIV-positive.

    That said, it is definitely not a typical love song. In a past issue of Q Magazine, The Edge is quoted as saying, "I often come across people who've told me they played it at their wedding and I think, 'Have you listened to the lyrics? It's not that kind of a song'".

    Cheryl Tay psycho_wolfe_87@hotmail.com (26th of January 2007)

  14. "When you're making a record, sometimes you get gifts. You just get these songs that drop out of the heavens and whenever that happens, you just try and get out of the way and keep your hands off it, and try and keep it as simple and as to-the-point as you can. In the case of 'One,' we were working on another tune and came up with a couple of chord progressions which were not working out for this other tune. [Producer] Danny [Lanois] had just said to me, 'Hey, Edge, why don't you just put those two together and see what happens.' So I just started to cycle these acoustic chords and suddenly Bono's like, 'Oh, I got a melody idea,' and we just ran out to the recording room, and within about 10 minutes, basically had the song, melodically; we didn't have the full arrangement, we had all the chords and all the structures and the whole thing. Adam and Larry came out and we cut a take in literally about two hours. It just came almost like a completely formed piece. And it came at a particularly difficult moment during the making of Achtung Baby, because we were in Berlin with a lot of ideas, but none of them were kind of coming through easily. They were all presenting problems, and we couldn't agree on arrangement style. It was all kind of still a bit tense. We hadn't really had the win that we needed to for morale. So this was so important. It really came just at the right moment. At that moment, you could feel all of the tension leaving the studio." -The Edge

    From Salvation in the Blues, compiled by Chris Taguchi chris@taguchi.ca (3rd of April 2007)

  15. "Larry looked like some kind of porn star. Edge looked like his sister Jill, I looked like Barbara Bush, and Adam hasn't taken the dress off." -Bono on dressing up in drag for the One video by Anton Corbijn

    From Salvation in the Blues, compiled by Chris Taguchi chris@taguchi.ca (3rd of April 2007)