Top Ten 80s Songs #8: Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2

The Unforgettable Fire

I’m a child of the eighties and proud of it. Musically, it was a funny old decade with some serious songs but also many bizarre ones as well. I think of the eighties as a colourful, fun decade of dominant cheesy pop but with some timeless masterpieces not far behind the chart toppers. Over the next ten days I will attempt to disclose what are for me the ten greatest songs of the eighties. It’s always hard to compile a list of this nature and my opinion is likely to change in the near future, but for now here are my golden ten.

I am indebted to www.songmeanings.net and to all those that have contributed to some very interesting discussions about all the songs featured here. It’s important that everyone finds their own meaning in any song but some of the opinions I heard were certainly eye openers for me. I intend to share my own thoughts on these songs and how, after all these years, they still have a profound impact on my life.

U2: Pride (In The Name Of Love) (1984)

The Unforgettable FireReleased in the UK in September 1984 and reaching no.3 in the charts, this was only U2’s second visit to the top ten but I don’t believe they’ve been better. The meaning of the song is open to debate with some arguing it is exclusively about Martin Luther King Jr, while others have found references to Christ and other figures/incidents from history. The reference to Martin Luther King Jr is without question, “Early morning, April 4. Shots ring out in the Memphis sky. Free at last, they took your life. They could not take your pride.” I believe there is still a generic meaning to aspects of the song with Martin Luther King Jr being a good example of those individuals that have fought for a noble cause.

The original video shows U2 on stage performing to a small crowd. A youthful Bono is bereft of his customary shades as he takes us through this beautiful song, his eyes frequently looking up, and even falling to his knees towards the end. There are no answers to the meaning of the song in the video, but I felt the audience from the young to the old are being given some thought-provoking messages by the group, their mixed expressions perhaps conveying the extent of the impact on them.

There are some songs I hear which take me back to a specific moment in my life. Though it has no connection to the song, whenever I hear “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” I am taken back to a job at a warehouse where I cleaned one summer after my first year at university. At weekends I would start work at 6.00a.m. and while I was sweeping away the radio could be heard in the distance. U2’s “Pride” was often one of the first songs to air at that time and it would stay with me throughout my shift. Workers on the floor seemed to draw more inspiration from R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” with one individual resorting to loud singing to pass the time! Aside from “One,” I don’t believe U2 have come close to bettering “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, and rumours that their next album will be more club music doesn’t make me think that will change anytime soon.

Top Ten so far:

8) U2: Pride (In the Name of Love)

9) Guns ‘N’ Roses: Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988)

10) Depeche Mode: Just Can’t Get Enough (1981)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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