"I find someone like [James] Joyce quite rock 'n' roll, because he was bending and messing with words."
U2 Lists: My Top 'I Heart U2' Songs
July 24, 2013
[Ed. note: This is the 51st in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]
I've been stuck on "Magnificent" lately. I listen to it mostly when I'm in my car, and, okay, I sing along – loudly. I can't get the chorus out of my head. "Only love can leave such a mark. Only love can heal such a scar ... Only love unites our hearts."
While it can be maddening to have the same song replaying in my head, it's also cathartic. The music, lyrics and chorus of "Magnificent" fuse to form a beautiful song. It lures me in and has become one of my favorites songs on No Line On The Horizon.
As I was listening to it for the umpteenth time recently, I wondered, since U2 is so much about love, how many other songs use the word "heart" and what are those songs? So I began to explore just how many "hearts" are in U2 music and what they mean to me. Here are my top U2 songs with the word "heart" in them.
My last word on this is that our hearts are marked and scarred by life. And they are healed by the ultimate healer: love.
Bono wrote this song on his honeymoon. It's a simple love song with an edge. I like it because it's not a stereotypical love song. It was the second single released from the War album, of which I am especially fond because it is one of the first U2 albums I bought.
This is one of my favorite U2 B-sides (from the "Unforgettable Fire" single). It only uses the word "heart" once but that's enough for me to include it on this list. "Love me til I die my heart won't wait. Soon I will be loved." I am a sucker for a strong bass line, and the bass stands out in this song. I find it to be a happy song, supported by the "sun shine, sun shine on me" lyrics.
I enjoy the story about how this song came to be, as described (mostly) by Bono and Adam in U2 by U2. The band was struggling during the recording of Rattle And Hum in Los Angeles, so Bono and Adam jumped into a Jeep and took to the open road, heading for New Orleans by way of the Painted Desert, a town called Truth or Consequences and, of course, Nasvhville. The pair met with myriad of interesting people and musicians. "'Heartland' came out of that trip," Bono said in the book. "This is the story of myself and Adam." I can see and feel the environment described in this song. "Mississippi and the cotton wool heat. Sixty-six a highway speaks .Of deserts dry. Of cool green valleys. Gold and silver veins. All the shining cities. In this heartland."
To me, this song describes the transition out of childhood and the realization of lost innocence. It says a lot with few words. "Into the heart of a child. I stay awhile. But I can go there. Into the heart of a child. I can smile. I can't go there. Into the heart, into the heart of a child. I can't go back. I can't stay awhile. Into the heart."
This is one of my all-time favorite live U2 songs. When I hear the first riff of Edge's guitar, I expect the lights to go down and the volume to increase. "In the garden I was playing the tart. I kissed your lips and broke your heart. You, you were acting like it was the end of the world."
(c) @U2/Myers, 2013.