What Does U2’s Pride (In The Name Of Love) Really Mean?

No matter your age or music taste, odds are that you’ve listened to at least one U2 song in your life. The Irish rock band – composed by Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. – became one of the most known bands in the world in the ’80s and has stayed in the spotlight ever since (via Britannica). 

U2 is considered one of the best rock performers thanks to their innovative world tours and has won several Billboard, Grammy and MTV awards, among dozens of nominations. The group is known for its thoughtful lyrics and we have to thank Bono for that because he is a nonstop composer. “It just comes out. No choice. It’s sort of embarrassing because it happens when you don’t really want it to,” Bono told Oprah Winfrey in regards to the process of writing a new song. “You’re writing a song on the back of an Air India sick bag, and you’re not writing it because you need a hit—you’re writing it because you need some sleep. You have to put it on paper so you can quiet the nagging.”

While it’s debatable what their best song is, U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is a must-listen classic. But what do the lyrics of this iconic song mean?

U2's song makes reference to Martin Luther King Jr.

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” is included on U2’s 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire and its lyrics are truly unforgettable. The song mentions the date April 4 which is the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, per History.com.

 The exact lyric is: “Early evening, April four / A shot rings out in the Memphis sky.” The band made a factual error since King died in the evening not early morning and after realizing that, Bono started singing “early evening” in live performances (via iHeartRadio)

Overall, the song is an ode to all those who have sacrificed themselves for the greater good. However, this wasn’t always the case. The original lyrics were critical of President Ronald Regan and how his pride led to nuclear escalation, according to iHeartRadio. Yet, the band decided it wasn’t worth it to write a whole song about Regan and decided to focus on inspiring figures such as MLK.

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