I have this poster.  It's not currently on one of our walls because it's enormous.

I have this poster. It’s not currently on any of our walls because it’s enormous.

Surely he’s insane, you think.  Top 100 Songs?  Do they even have 100 songs?

Well, to be precise, they have 223 235 songs that I considered for this list.  That includes the 131 142 different songs on the band’s 12 13 albums, 40 b-sides from the various singles over the year and 52 rare songs that have either been on soundtracks, tribute albums, compilations or were unreleased until the box set in 2006.

Note:  This update is coming in July of 2015, and all the updated bits are in red (except the links, which are in blue because of some formatting issues).  I could have done one much earlier – in October of 2014, say, when Songs of Innocence and Experience was released.  But, first, I wanted to give more time to listen to the album.  Second, I just saw U2 in Boston and have now had the chance to hear all the best songs off the album live.  So, I am reposting this with updates since the original post came out.  The list now covers 107 songs because I didn’t want to just lop the songs off the bottom of the list.  So, my Top 100 really begin with “Kite”.

So why would I waste my time with such a list, certainly some people are thinking.  And for those people who want to just trash on U2 or say how much they dislike them that’s fine, but I’m going to delete your comments.  Feel free to comment on something else.  Just skip the list.  If you disagree with my choice, if you say, like the band but don’t like my #1 song, well, feel free to comment.  I’m always up for the discussion.

I am, shall we say, a huge U2 fan.  And yet things have gone off the rails in the last decade.  There are some things we say will never happen to us, when we look at those who are older.  Some of those things we keep from happening.  Others we aren’t so good with.  “I know what my major is,” I thought, going into college.  And yet, it changed.  “I won’t fall out of touch with music because it’s too important to me,” I thought.  And yet, because I hate commercial radio stations, I got out of touch with music, except for those few years I was at Borders and was forced to listen to new music, some good (Wincing the Night Away, All the Road Running, Hot Fuss), some of it abysmally bad (Josh Groban, Ingrid Michaelson, Maroon 5).  But some music still means a lot to me.

Which is a roundabout way of explaining that I have 91 92 U2 cd’s.  Even more if I count the 36 ones that are 2 cd sets separately.  And even more again if I want to count the 37 different cd’s I have that are compressed onto data cd’s.  And that’s not even everything I could have had, because I don’t have U218, the singles collection which only had two new songs, or any of the singles that have been released since 2004.

How did I become such an over-whelming U2 fan?  For once my parents are absolved of any blame – hell, I’d still be listening to just Peter, Paul and Mary and classical if my music tastes just came from them.  No, this one goes on my siblings.  I’m not sure who it began with.  As I recall the story, John went to college and heard one of the songs from Under a Blood Red Sky on a jukebox – either “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “New Year’s Day” and was won over.  But I don’t know if Kelly and Stacy found U2 before that or at the same time.  And “Pride” has basically been my favorite song since MTV put the video on back in 1984, the black-and-white one with the two little kids watching the band.  Then, of course, there was Live Aid, the pivotal moment when U2 became the biggest band in the world with their epic 12 minute version of “Bad” and Bono showing how well he could connect with an audience (a little amusing side-note since the 30th anniversary of Live Aid just passed – I apparently have the most complete version of Live Aid available – when Live Aid was released on DVD a decade ago, it was missing the Led Zeppelin performance (with Phil Collins on drums) because they had been deleted from the master tapes, but our family bought our first VCR just the day before Live Aid and we taped most of it, including the Led Zeppelin performance and I still own that tape – perhaps I should give it to the BBC or MTV?).

So, here is the set-up for the list.  My Top 100 (really 107), which includes song title, the best commercially released version (if there is nothing there assume the original album version is the best version), the best version if my favorite version comes from a bootleg, a lyric from the song (I have to include the lyrics – the politics and passion in U2’s lyrics are part of what made me such a fan right from the start) and some notes (including the songwriters – unless otherwise noted the music is by U2 and the lyrics are by Bono).  But first, a few add-ons and notes before the list.

Note #1:  I asked the biggest U2 fans I know for their top 10 U2 songs each (those biggest fans being my siblings, my wife and my friend Kari), though Kelly, Stacy and Alison didn’t rank theirs.  They are noted in each song.  The only song that was listed and didn’t make my Top 100 was “Original of the Species” which my sister Alison listed.

Note #2:  If I italicize Rattle and Hum, I am talking about the film rather than the album.

Note #3:  I didn’t want to bog down the page with 100 videos.  So all the links go to videos.  Obviously they haven’t made a video for every one of their songs, so a lot of these are from random people on YouTube.  A lot of them are from Live at Red Rocks.  I only embedded one video and hopefully you’ll figure out why.

Note #4:  There are 101 107 songs on the list.  That’s because I have been working on this post for months.  Months.  I asked my siblings for their lists in an e-mail sent on 3 July.  And in the middle of all that, U2 put out a new song for the new film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  And that song makes the list, right in the middle.  Rather than adjust anything, I simply slotted it in.  And now I have simply added six songs – “Invisible” as well as five songs from Songs of Innocence and Experience.

Note #5:  I didn’t want to constantly be typing in quotation marks so I didn’t put the songs in quotation marks except when quoting from a source that did.  It was just going to be too much work for a post that was already a lot of work.

Note #6:  I normally would put little lists and a bibliography and such at the end, but I want to end with the countdown, so there are a few lists and a bibliography first.  Also, while I have a lot of U2 books, I didn’t want to focus on what a lot of other people have said about their songs.  I have, I think, one quote from the first book listed, which is a very old book.  The other one is the source for a lot of stuff on here because it’s the four of them discussing their music.


  • Unforgettable Fire: The Definitive Biography of U2.  Eamon Dunphy.  1987.  Warner Books.
  • U2 by U2.  Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.  With Neil McCormick.  2006.  HarperCollins Publishers.
  • U2: The Complete Songs.  1999.  Wise Publications  –  all pre-1999 lyrics that didn’t come from liner notes came from here
  • U2Gigs  –  When I cite information about how many times a song has been played live or when it was last played or any such information, it is coming from this amazingly in-depth site that covers every U2 live performance.  You can look at it by concert, by tour or by song (alphabetically, by # of times played, or by original artist).

The Studio Albums (ranked):

  1. The Joshua Tree, 1987, 10 of 11 songs in Top 100
  2. Achtung Baby, 1991, 10 of 12 songs in Top 100
  3. Zooropa, 1993, 8 of 10 songs in Top 100
  4. War, 1983, 7 of 10 songs in Top 100
  5. All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000, 6 of 11 songs in Top 100
  6. The Unforgettable Fire, 1984, 7 of 10 songs in Top 100
  7. Boy, 1980, 6 of 11 songs in Top 100
  8. Songs of Innocence and Experience, 2014, 6 of 11 songs in Top 100  *
  9. Rattle and Hum, 1988, 8 of 11 original songs in Top 100
  10. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004, 3 of 11 songs in Top 100
  11. No Line on the Horizon, 2009, 2 of 11 songs in Top 100
  12. Pop, 1997, 4 of 12 songs in Top 100
  13. October, 1981, 3 of 11 songs in Top 100

* – I was a little frustrated, not because the album appeared in my iTunes (I loved that), but because the album would have been significantly better if they had cut Sleep Like a Baby Tonight and This is Where You Can Reach Me Now and included Invisible and Ordinary Love.

My 5 favorite guitar solos by The Edge

  1. The Ground Beneath Her Feet
  2. Silver and Gold (live version)
  3. Bad  (long Live Aid version)
  4. Walk On
  5. In God’s Country
  6. The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)

My 5 favorite instrumental moments in U2 songs:

  1. the intro to Where the Streets Have No Name
  2. Adam’s bass solo in Gloria
  3. the drum lead-in to Sunday Bloody Sunday
  4. the guitar solo in The Ground Beneath Her Feet
  5. the blistering guitar solo on the live version of Silver and Gold (“Okay Edge, play the blues.”)

My 5 favorite Bono snippets

  1. “Dirty Old Town” in Running to Stand Still (live in Rotterdam)
  2. “The Promised Land” in I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
  3. “Love will Tear Us Apart” in With or Without You (PopMart tour)
  4. “Satellite of Love / Walk on the Wild Side / Ruby Tuesday / Sympathy for the Devil” in Bad (Live-Aid)
  5. “Auld Lang Syne” in Where the Streets Have No Name (New Year’s Eve at Point Depot)

The Top 100 Songs:

#100  –  In a Little While

  • “When the night takes a deep breath  /  And the daylight has no air”
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 6
  • Best Version:  Live from Boston
  • Known as “the last song that Joey Ramone heard”, because Bono played it for him in his hospital bed when he was dying.  “Joey turned this song about a hangover into a gospel song,” Bono also adds in the live version from Boston.
  • “It is sung in a broken voice.  And believe me, Bono was broken that day.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 299)
  • “I may have misjudged my allocation of units the night before.  I had this idea of writing about the temporal nature of being, but setting it in a hangover gives it some comedy and earthiness that balances the philosophical pretensions.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 299)

Two_Hearts_single_2#99  –  Two Hearts Beat as One

  • “They say I’m a fool, they say I’m nothing  /  But if I’m a fool for you oh, that’s something”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 2 side 2  /  track 7
  • Best Version:  Live at Point Depot, 27 December 1989
  • A great rocking song that really stresses the post-punk origins of the band.  When the band members talk about the importance of Larry on drums this is one of the songs that they are talking about.  It also has one of Adam’s best bass lines.  The live version that I list was the first time the song was played live since the end of the Unforgettable Fire tour and the last time it has been played in full in concert.

#98  –  Some Days are Better Than Others

  • “Some days are sulky some days have a grin  /  Some days have bouncers and won’t let you in”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 7
  • This would be an odd throwaway track on Zooropa were it not so remarkably catchy.

#97  –  Exit

  • “He used to stay awake  /  To drive the dreams he had away”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 5 side 2  /  track 10
  • Best Version:  live version used in Rattle and Hum, which includes “Gloria” (Van Morrison’s “Gloria” not U2’s)
  • A dark track that you really have to grow into.  Watch Bono sing this in Rattle and Hum and you can gain a new appreciation for the song.
  • Note:  Because of bizarreness, the track on Joshua Tree (at least on old CD printings) actually includes the ending of “One Tree Hill”.

U2adwm#96  –  A Day Without Me

  • “Starting a landslide in my ego”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 3 side 2  /  track 8
  • The trio of “A Day Without Me”, “Twilight” and “Out of Control” are part of the good vibe of Boy that make it such an outstanding debut album.  They point the way for U2 with some very good songs.  They aren’t the best songs on the album, as will be seen, but they are all very good.
  • ” ‘A Day Without Me’ was not an obvious single but it showed off the use of echo and gave Bono something to sing against.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 96)

U2_All_Because_of_You#95  –  All Because of You

  • “I saw you in the curve of the moon  /  In the shadow cast across my room”
  • Original Release:  2004, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, track 6
  • One of the songs on the album that manages to simultaneously sound like early U2 and later U2 at the same time.

#94  –  Helter Skelter

  • “You may be a lover, but you ain’t no dancer”
  • Written by John Lennon  /  Paul McCartney  (really, just Paul); 1968, The Beatles
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 1 side 1
  • How many people my age knew this song before Rattle and Hum?  I certainly didn’t.  Or at least, I associated it with Charles Manson and didn’t know it came from the Beatles.  It was a great way to start off the album, although, ironically, it was from the middle of a concert and it’s a song they only played 15 times live.

#93  –  Kite

  • “I’m not afraid to die  /  I’m not afraid to live”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 6
  • Best Version:  Live in Boston
  • “This song is about letting go of someone you don’t want to let go of.” Bono says on the Live in Boston version.
  • This is one of those songs that didn’t jump off the album for me but when I heard the Live in Boston version I liked it a lot more.

#92  –  Love is Blindness

  • “Love is clockworks  /  And cold steel  /  Fingers too numb to feel”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 6 side 2  /  track 12
  • Best Version:  Live from the Stay EP  (recorded 30 Aug 1992 at Yankee Stadium)
  • Another song that I didn’t love when the album came out, though it was a nice soft track to end an album that was an amazing distortion of all their music that had come before (I once heard Bono refer to the guitar at the opening of “Zoo Station” as the sound of them cutting down the Joshua Tree).  But then came the live version on the “Stay” single.

#91  –  Out of Control

  • “One day I’ll die  /  The choice will not be mine”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 5 side 1  /  track 5
  • “I was born on 10 May 1960.  I think I wrote a song about this: One dull morning woke the world with bawling, they were so glad, I was so sad.  Not a great rhyme, but there you go.  That was ‘Out of Control’, U2’s first single.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 15).  “‘Out of Control’ was really the point where the songwriting started to become more exciting.  It was still effectively the same process, but there was just more form to it.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 56).

Cobl#90  –  City of Blinding Lights

  • “The more you know the less you feel”
  • Original Release:  2004, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, track 5
  • “In Madison Square Garden, the lights came on during ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ and there must have been ten thousand people with tears running down their faces.  And I told them they looked beautiful, which became the line in ‘City of Blinding Lights’.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 309)
  • When Dismantle came out in 2004 I had a lot going on in my life and it wasn’t nearly as good as Behind so I didn’t listen to it nearly as much as I had any of their previous albums.  And this song initially got passed over until it became a single and started getting airplay in other formats (hearing it on television and such).

U2_des_7#89  –  Desire

  • “She’s the candle burning in my room  /  I’m like the needle needle and spoon”
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 3 side 1  /  track 3
  • Desire is an interesting song in that it was so clearly a good song and a lot of fun and was going to be a hit (and it was – it’s their third biggest U.S. single ever).  But I wondered early on how great a song it was and it waned over the years as it was turned into a long performance piece on the ZOO TV tour.  But still a good rocking single.  And loved by others – Veronica had it at #9, Kari at #8 and John at #3.

GoYBiTunes#88  –  Get On Your Boots

  • “All our kids are screaming  /  But the ghosts aren’t real”
  • Original Release:  2009, No Line on the Horizon, track 6; released as a single five weeks earlier

#87  –  Indian Summer Sky

  • “To lose along the way the spark that set the flame  /  To flicker and to fade on this the longest day”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 3 side 2  /  track 8
  • There’s not much choice for the best version here.  It’s only been played 9 times ever and has no other studio versions or remixes.

#86  –  God Part II

  • “Don’t believe them when they tell me there ain’t no cure  /  The rich stay healthy the sick stay poor”
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 1 side 4  /  track 14
  • The pounding drum mix of this one doesn’t really translate well to the live versions.  But it works as what it is – a sequel to one of the best solo John Lennon songs, taking the concept and moving it forward almost twenty years.

Sats#85  –  Staring at the Sun

  • “referee won’t blow the whistle God is good but will HE listen”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  1997, Pop, track 5
  • Best Version:  The Best Of 1990-2000
  • “‘Staring at the Sun’ was another great tune that never became a great record, for whatever reason.  I don’t know why we didn’t quite nail it.  In the end, when we were playing it live, we just sang it with acoustic guitars and the song came through much better.”  (The Edge, U2 by U2, p 266)
  • One of the better songs on a very weak album, this was the one that in some ways sounded the most like older U2.

#84  –  Twilight

  • “In the shadow, boy meets man”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 2 side 1 / track 2
  • Twilight was played at almost every concert up until the first leg of the Unforgettable Fire tour and then was dropped a few shows into that tour and has never been played live again.

#83  –  Night and Day

  • “a voice within me keeps repeating  /  you, you, you”
  • Written by Cole Porter
  • Original Release:  1990, Red Hot + Blue, track 11
  • This was an oddity between two very different periods of the band.  It doesn’t sound that much like pre-Achtung and doesn’t sound much like Achtung or what would come after.  So I guess it is what it is – an interesting look at an old Cole Porter song.

#82  –  All Along the Watchtower

  • ” ‘There must be some way out of here’ said the joker to the thief”
  • Written by Bob Dylan; 1967, John Wesley Harding
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 1 side 2  /  track 5
  • Best Version:  Rattle and Hum film version
  • Both the version in the film and for the album were overdubbed, as is obvious from Bono running off in the middle of the song to spray graffiti.  However, for some reason, the version from the film is some 40 seconds shorter and starts immediately, without the 15 second build-up.

#81  –  Sweet Fire of Love

  • “Broken idols by the side of the road  /  They didn’t fall on the side of the law  /  Here she comes shining like a light  /  Here she comes salvation in the night”
  • Written by U2 and Robbie Robertson
  • Original Release:  1987, Robbie Robertson, track 4 side 1
  • Producer Daniel Lanois was working on Robbie Robertson’s first solo album, overlapping with his work on two seminal albums: Peter Gabriel’s So and U2’s The Joshua Tree.  As a result, both Gabriel and U2 make appearances on the Robertson album, with U2 co-writing this song and Bono singing vocals.  It’s a great song that feels like a Joshua Tree song and is probably one of the least known U2 songs.

11_O'Clock_Tick_Tock#80  –  11 O’Clock Tick Tock

  • “We thought we had the answers  /  It was the questions we had wrong”
  • Original Release:  1980, Single
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky
  • “The idea for the song came from standing on the balcony at the Electric Ballroom watching The Cramps.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 92)
  • Unless you had the original single your first time coming across this was on Under a Blood Red Sky.  It was one of two rarer songs that were on the album rather than include any October tracks other than Gloria.

#79  –  Winter

  • “But there’s no army in this world  /  That can fight a ghost”
  • Original Release:  2009, Brothers Original Soundtrack, track 16
  • The Golden Globes have always loved U2 more than the Oscars.  The band has been nominated for the Globe for Best Song four times with one win (plus two more nominations for Bono on songs he did without the band).  At the Oscars they have just one nomination.  This was nominated at the Globes but was passed over for lackluster songs from Paris 36 and Nine.

#78  –  A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel

  • “But what you need you give away  /  For primitive love and a ride on the mystery train”
  • Original Release:  1988, Angel of Harlem single, b-side
  • Recorded during their American period of Rattle and Hum.  It’s a nod to Elvis and so much more and a great b-side.

#77  –  Surrender

  • “If I want to live, I’ve got to die myself someday”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 4 side 2 / track 9
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky video (it’s not on the album)
  • I’ve always thought this was one of the most under-appreciated songs on War.

Miss_sarajevo#76  –  Miss Sarajevo

  • “Is there a time for tying ribbons  /  A time for Christmas trees  /  Is there a time for laying tables  /  When the night is set to freeze”
  • Written by U2 and Brian Eno
  • Original Release:  1995, Passengers Soundtrack 1, track 7
  • “That was a trip, to write a libretto for a voice like Pavarotti’s.  To get into the right frame for that I was impersonating my father singing in the bath impersonating Pavarotti.  He had been asking for a song.  In fact, asking is an understatement.  He had been crank-calling the house.  He told me that if I didn’t write him a song, God would be very cross.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 262)
  • My friend Kari included this on her Top 10 list at #10.  Technically it’s not U2, as it’s their side project Passengers, but really, it’s U2.  It’s too bad that this rest of the album didn’t come close to the level of this song.

#75  –  Jesus Christ

  • “If Jesus was to preach what he preached in Galilee  /  They would lay poor Jesus in his grave”
  • Written by Woody Guthrie
  • Original Release:  1988, Folkways: A Vision Shared, track 5 side 1  /  track 5
  • Recorded for the Woody Guthrie / Leadbelly tribute album and probably the best song on the album.

#74a  –  Every Breaking Wave

  • “Every sailor knows that the sea  /  Is a friend made enemy”
  • Original Release:  2014, Songs of Innocence and Experience, track 2
  • Best Version:  Live in Boston, July 15, 2015, with just Bono and Edge on piano
  • I really liked this when I first heard it back in October.  But it really came through the other night with Edge on the piano (giving Adam and Larry time to walk back to the main stage).

Hmtmkmkm#74  –  Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

  • “If they don’t know what you’re doin’  /  Babe it must be art”
  • Original Release:  1995, Batman Forever Soundtrack, track 1
  • This was another of those songs between albums that sort of showed the new direction.  And another one of those times when the Globes nominated the song but the Oscars passed it over.

Still_havent_found_cover#73  –  I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

  • “I have kissed honey lips  /  Felt the healing in her fingertips  /  It burned like fire  /  This burning desire”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 2 side 1  /  track 2
  • Best Version:  2012, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Bruce Springsteen and Bono singing a snippet of Springsteen’s “The Promised Land”
  • The first two lists I got back where from my two brothers – this was on Kelly’s list and John had it at #8.  It was ironic, because I was wondering at the time (I hadn’t done my list yet) if it would even make my Top 100.  And then I found that version of them singing it with Springsteen and I suddenly remembered why this was one of those great singles off Joshua Tree that won over so many fans back in 1987.

#72  –  Spanish Eyes

  • “I’m used to standing in the shadows and waiting for the night”
  • Original Release:  1987, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For single, b-side
  • The Joshua Tree could have been a double album and there were plans for that at one point.  That’s because of the quality of the b-sides like this one.

invisible#71a  –  Invisible

  • “I’m more than you know  /  I’m more than you see here”
  • Original Release:  2014, single
  • This was a really kick ass way to do this – them performing inside the giant screen and as Bono sings “I am not invisible”, the images clear and you see the band.  That’s another video from the concert I was at.
  • This song really should have been on the album.  It’s a better song than half the album and they could have knocked off one of the weaker songs.

#71  –  Dirty Day

  • “They say be careful where you aim  /  Because where you aim you just might hit”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 9
  • Best Version:  1997, Junk Day mix, Please single

#70  –  Wake Up Dead Man

  • “if there’s an order in all of this disorder  /  is it like a tape recorder?  /  can we remind it just once more”
  • Lyrics by Bono and the Edge
  • Original Release:  1997, Pop, track 12
  • ” ‘Wake Up Dead Man’ was something Edge had from the Zooropa sessions.  It was a big Gothic rock song, which didn’t seem right for this album.  Towards the end of the sessions we dusted it off, stripped it down and did a very sparse, electric version of it.  It’s a very hard-hitting song.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 269)
  • “An album that starts with the bright promise of ‘Discotheque’ ends with the dark knight of the soul that is ‘Wake Up Dead Man’.  That’s the story of the making of the album, actually.  It began as an escapist concept and then slowly, almost like the coming up of the dawn, the morning after, it ended with the realization that there is no escape and you’re back at the grim realities.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 269)
  • The song that in a sense redeems Pop, giving it a worthwhile ending when the opening of the album is just so weak.

#69a  –  Cedarwood Road

  • “You can’t return to where you’ve never left”
  • Original Release:  2014, Songs of Innocence and Experience, track 8
  • The line above is possibly my favorite line off the new album and it really sums it up.  It was a key song in the Dublin part of their setlist.

U2_New_Year's_Day#69  –  New Year’s Day

  • “Under a blood red sky  /  A crowd has gathered in black and white”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 3 side 1 / track 3
  • Best Version:  1993, Dublin
  • Best Commercial Version:  Original release
  • “‘New Year’s Day’ started as a soundcheck jam.  I was basically trying to play ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage and trying to find the right interval.  Sometimes your mistakes are your best bits.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 136)
  • This made my friend Kari’s Top 10 list at #6 and also made my sister Stacy’s Top 10 list.  I have 33 different live versions of the song, which ties it for 6th most.  And yet, I prefer the original recording from the War album to almost all of them.

U2unffire#68  –  The Unforgettable Fire

  • “Carnival, the wheels fly and the colours spin through alcohol”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 4 side 1 / track 4
  • Best Version:  1990, Rotterdam
  • Best Commercial Version:  Original version

#67  –  No Line on the Horizon

  • “I know a girl with a hole in her heart  /  She said infinity is a great place to start”
  • Music by U2, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois
  • Original Release:  2009, No Line on the Horizon, track 1
  • The best song off what turned to out be not such a great album.

#66  –  Party Girl

  • “When I was three  /  I thought the world revolved around me  /  I was wrong”
  • Original Release:  1982, A Celebration single, b-side as “Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl”
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky
  • Like 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, first heard by a lot of people on Under a Blood Red Sky and instantly became a favorite of almost everyone I knew.

#65  –  The First Time

  • “But I left by the back door  /  And I threw away the key”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 8
  • Best Version:  1993, Dublin, as a snippet in Bad that transitions into Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Best Commercial Version:  original release

#64  –  Can’t Help Falling in Love

  • “Wise men say  /  Only fools rush in  /  But I can’t help falling in love with you”
  • Written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss
  • Original Release:  only released by Bono on Honeymoon in Vegas soundtrack, only official U2 release on The Complete U2
  • Best Version:  1993, Dublin

#63  –  MLK

  • “Sleep, sleep tonight  /  And may your dreams be realized”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 5 side 2 / track 10
  • Best Version:  1986, Conspiracy of Hope Tour, snippet as a lead-in to Pride
  • “In the scriptures they talk about the blood crying from the ground.  And with ‘MLK’ you have just that, the blood crying from the ground – but not for revenge, for understanding.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 155)
  • My sister Alison included this on her Top 10 list.  I think lots of casual U2 fans wouldn’t know this is a full-length song rather than just a snippet.

#62  –  Walk to the Water

  • “He said he was an artist  /  But he really painted billboards  /  In large capital letters”
  • Original Release:  1987, With or Without You single, b-side
  • Only played live twice ever, both times as snippets, once in “40” and once in “Bad”.  I’m not sure that U2 ever did better with b-sides than on this single, with Luminous Times as the other b-side.

Stuck_in_a_moment#61  –  Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

  • “I’m just trying to find a decent melody  /  A song that I can sing in my own company”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 2
  • Best Version:  Live, in Boston on July 15, 2015.  My sister was a little bummed that they played this when I saw them but not when she did.  And the way they played this at my concert was just fantastic.
  • “That is really classic Edge songwriting.  It was the first time I’ve heard Edge perform a song that didn’t really need anything else, just a lyric.  It could just be him and the piano, it’s all there.  A great gospel song.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 296)
  • My sister Alison included this on her Top 10 list.  It has one of the best videos in U2’s catalog and it’s probably the funniest U2 video.

#60  –  Bullet the Blue Sky

  • “In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum  /  Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 4 side 1 / track 4
  • Best Version:  1993, Stay EP, live from Dublin 28 August 1993
  • I have 37 different live versions.  Of course, it is the song whose lyric, quoted above, gave the title to Rattle and Hum.  It is that and Under a Blood Red Sky (which comes from New Year’s Day) that first gave me the notion of naming collections after a line in a song.

#59  –  Babyface

  • “Bitter sweet girl won’t you give me a taste”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 2
  • A beautiful song from Zooropa that, when I needed a song for someone to sing to someone at a bad moment in their lives, I turned to in one of my short stories.

U2gloria#58  –  Gloria

  • “I, I try to speak up  /  But only in you I’m complete”
  • Original Release:  1981, October, track 1 side 1 / track 1
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky
  • Veronica included this on her Top 10 list at #3.  It’s remarkable in having a bass solo, although that provides a great moment to introduce Adam.  Played at almost all their shows in the 80’s and only a stretch of the Vertigo Tour since (except, now they have played it three times on the current tour, and my show was one of those – it was amazing to realize that they were playing it – what an amazing gift of a second song in the show).  It’s the one song on Under a Blood Red Sky you know was recorded at Red Rocks because Bono says it.

#57  –  Silver and Gold

  • “Broken back to the ceiling  /  Broken nose to the floor  /  I scream at the silence  /  It’s crawling, crawls under the door”
  • Written by Bono
  • Original Release:  1985, Sun City, track 4 side 2  /  track 7 as a Bono song; released by full band in 1988, Rattle and Hum, track 5 side 2  /  track 9
  • Best Version:  1988, Rattle and Hum
  • “A couple of months after Live Aid, Bono had met Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in a New York recording studio.  The two old heroes were jamming away with acoustic guitar, singing old Stones numbers they did as party pieces.  ‘Sing us one of your songs, Bono,’ Richards suggested, handing over his guitar.  Bono had freaked with embarrassment.  He had no songs.  His immediate thought was ‘Fuck, where’s Larry, Adam and Edge?’  That night, hot with shame, he locked himself in his hotel bedroom and wrote ‘Silver and Gold’ for the Sun City: Artists Against Apartheid album.”  (Unforgettable Fire, p 261)
  • The original Bono version is a good, but slow and dark song.  The live version, with Bono’s bit in the middle and Edge’s most blistering guitar solo ever, is awesome.

#56  –  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

  • “They’re singin’ ‘Deck the Halls’  /  But it’s not like Christmas at all  /  I remember when you were here  /  And all the fun we had last year”
  • Written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector
  • Original Release:  1987, A Very Special Christmas, track 7
  • A great Christmas song that U2 makes absolutely rock.  Possibly my favorite rock Christmas song.

#55  –  Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

  • “I remember  /  When we could sleep on stones  /  Now we lie together  /  In whispers and moans”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 4 side 2 / track 10
  • Best Version:  1993 Dublin concert, combined with Help
  • Best Commercial Version:  album
  • “‘Ultraviolet (Light My Way)’ was a little disturbed.  There’s a silence that comes to a house when no one can sleep is a great line, and I can say that with all modesty because I stole it from Raymond Carver.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 228)
  • Another song that really came more alive for me once I heard a live version.

#54  –  Unchained Melody

  • “Oh my love, oh my darling  /  I’ve hungered for your touch”
  • Written by Alex North  /  Hy Zaret
  • Original Release:  1989, All I Want is You single, b-side
  • Best Version:  1993, Dublin, live, snippet at the end of One
  • I am a big believer that if you do a cover, make it your own.  This sounds nothing like the Righteous Brothers version and it shouldn’t sound anything like it.  And I like it just as much.

#53  –  Until the End of the World

  • “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”
  • Original Release:  1991, Until the End of the World soundtrack, track 18; lated included on Achtung Baby, track 4 side 1 / track 4
  • Best Version:  original soundtrack version

#52  –  October

  • “October and kingdoms rise  /  And kingdoms fall  /  But you go on”
  • Original Release:  1981, October, track 2 side 2  / track 7
  • “I really don’t know where that October piece came from, other than just sitting at a piano and that’s where it brought me, into this quite stark, quite grey but beautiful European place.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 120)
  • October and Gloria are clearly the big songs off October – they’ve each been played over 300 times while no other song from the album has been played more than 170 times.

U2please#51  –  Please

  • “so you never knew love until you crossed the line of grace”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  1997, Pop, track 11
  • Best Version:  single version, 1997
  • “It’s not an exact portrait, it’s a certain kind of person you’d meet in middle-class Dublin suburbs, who are very sympathetic to the IRA paramilitaries and provide the intellectual support base for militant Republicanism.  It’s people who think ideas are more valuable than other people . . . September, streets capsizing, spilling over, down the drains.  Shards of glass just like rain . . It was the Docklands bombing in London that it referred to and the breakdown of peace talks in Northern Ireland but after 9/11 it became impossible to sing.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 269)

U2thefly#50  –  The Fly

  • “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief  /  All kill their inspiration and sing about the grief”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 1 side 2 / track 7; released six weeks earlier as a single
  • “I don’t know which came first, the glasses or the tune, but as soon as Bono found the glasses he knew what the character should be and how he should sound.  The voice is over-driven which suits this quite demented and almost psychotic delivery.  At that time, it was impossible to know whether U2 fans would follow Bono down this particular path, so that was a real leap of faith.  The whole track is a high-energy sonis barrage, but with an angelic chorus.  It’s a classic example of U2 and Eno interfacing.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 224)
  • “The way I saw ‘The Fly’ was like a crank call from Hell . . . but the guy likes it there.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 225)

U2_Vertigo#49  –  Vertigo

  • “It’s everything I wish I didn’t know”
  • Lyrics by Bono with the Edge
  • Original Release:  2004, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, track 1; released two weeks earlier as a single
  • This song, and again in 2009 with Get On Your Boots showed that U2 could do danceable songs without the mess of the first few songs on Pop.
  • Bono introduced this song at my concert with a joke about how he screwed up the Spanish countdown on the song – it was an instant cue as to what the song would be.

#48a  –  Ordinary Love

  • “All the beauty’s that been lost before wants to find us again”
  • Original Release:  2013, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Original Soundtrack
  • As noted above, released months after I began this list.  A great new song.  Who wants to bet that it gets a Golden Globe nomination and nothing from the Oscars?

#48  –  Love Rescue Me

  • “And the sun in the sky makes a shadow of you and I  /  Stretching out as the sun sinks in the sea  /  I’m here without a name in the palace of my shame  /  Love rescue me”
  • Lyrics by Bono and Bob Dylan
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 2 side 3 / track 11
  • Best Version:  1990, live in Rotterdam
  • Best Commercial Version:  original release
  • “We played two nights in LA.  I woke up one morning with a song in my head, ‘Love Rescue Me’.  Lots of songs arrive in a dream state.  At first you think it must be somebody else’s song, because it’s there, verse, chorus, melody.  I had been dreaming about Bob Dylan and I thought might be a Bob Dylan song.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 196)
  • Both my brothers had this on their Top 10 lists – John had it at #2.  And lyrically, it is absolutely one of their best songs.

#47  –  The Wanderer

  • “I went out walking with a bible and a gun  /  The word of God lay heavy on my heart  /  I was sure I was the one  /  Now Jesus, don’t you wait up  /  Jesus, I’ll be home soon  /  Yeah I went out for the papers  /  Told her I’d be back by noon”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 10
  • Best Version:  The Best of Johnny Cash  –  why?  because it’s doesn’t have the annoying bit at the end of the track
  • A great ending to an absolutely under-rated and under-appreciated album.  The dark voice of Johnny Cash just makes you think the apocalypse really has come.

Angel_harlem#46  –  Angel of Harlem

  • “It was a cold and wet December day  /  When we touched down at JFK”
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 1 side 3 / track 10
  • Best Version:  1993, live in Dublin, with Sweet Dreams and The Wedding March snippets at the beginning
  • Stacy had it on her Top 10 list, Veronica had it at #5 and John had it at #4.  I should point out that it is special to Veronica in a unique way.  At our wedding, we wanted to time things.  We were set for 6 (that’s what was on the invitations), but I wanted to have us come out just a few minutes later, to give stragglers time.  So I made a mix CD to play for the hour leading up to the wedding.  It was set so that the penultimate song was Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”, which would play exactly at six, as a joke.  Then, after that, came the 1993 live version of “Angel of Harlem” (linked above).  Which begins with a snippet of The Wedding March.  So, this was the lead-in song to Veronica walking out so we could get married.

#45  –  The Electric Co.

  • “Boy, stupid boy  /  Don’t sit at the table  /  Until you’re able to”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 5 side 2 / track 10
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky video, which includes the snippet of “Send in the Clowns” which they couldn’t use on the CD

Sing048-01#44  –  Elevation

  • “I can’t sing but I’ve got soul”
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 3
  • Best Version:  2002, U27, Influx Remix
  • “Adam really came into his own on ‘Elevation’ because he is the hip-hop man in the band and there is a real hip-hop attitude in the rhythm section.  And then Bono got on the mike and improvised.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 296)
  • Veronica’s #2 song and Kari’s #9.  This is another one of those songs that is both a great song and a great dance song at the same time.  One of the most danceable of all of U2’s songs.

U2_Mysterious_Ways#43  –  Mysterious Ways

  • “To touch is to heal  /  To hurt is to steal  /  If you want to kiss the sky  /  Better learn how to kneel”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 2 side 2 / track 8
  • Best Version:  1993, live in Dublin
  • Best Commercial Version:  original release
  • ” ‘Mysterious Ways’ was built from the groove up.  It started as an experiment with rhythm, Adam, Bono and myself jamming away over a beat box.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 227)
  • This was on two Top 10 lists – John’s at #6 and Veronica’s at #10.  I think a lot of people were worried when The Fly was the first single off Achtung.  But then this came out and everyone loved it and relaxed.

#42  –  Tomorrow

  • “Outside, somebody’s outside  /  Somebody’s knocking at the door  /  There’s a black car parked by the side of the road  /  Don’t go to the door”
  • Original Release:  1981, October, track 1 side 2 / track 6
  • “‘Tomorrow’ was unconscious rambling.  Years later I realized it was a narrative account of my mother’s funeral.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 116)
  • My favorite song off October – a dark and brooding song.

#41  –  Another Time, Another Place

  • “Being naked and afraid  /  In the open space of my bed”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 4 side 2 / track 9
  • A great song off Boy and one of the first ones abandoned.  It hasn’t been played live now in over 20 years – not since the October Tour.

#40  –  Slow Dancing

  • “My love is restless as the wind  /  She moves like a shadow across my skin  /  She left my conscience  /  And I don’t want it back  /  It just gets in the way”
  • Original Release:  1993, Stay EP, track 2
  • The band basically abandoned b-sides for Zooropa.  But this was an absolute gem, which they actually wrote for Willie Nelson (I have one bootleg that attributes it to him) and which he later song on.  But the first version is still the best.  And yet, only the sixth highest b-side on the list.  Their b-sides have often been brilliant.

#39  –  Springhill Mining Disaster

  • “We’ve no more water, light or bread  /  So we’re living on songs and hope instead”
  • Written by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacCall
  • Best Version:  1987, live on Dublin TV
  • A cover of a folk song that they did to amazing affect just before starting the Joshua Tree tour and would perform a few times on the tour.  Ironic, since Red Hill Mining Town, with the similar name, was not played on the tour and has never been played live.

#38  –  Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World

  • “A woman needs a man  /  Like a fish needs a bicycle  /  When you’re tryin’ to throw your arms around the world”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 3 side 2 / track 9
  • Best Version:  1993, live in Dublin
  • ” ‘Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World’ is light relief in the middle of a very dark piece of work.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 228)
  • Definitely a song that got better when I heard the Dublin version.  I think every female I knew in college loved that line I quote above.  The second line is often changed in concert.

#37  –  Elvis Presley and America

  • “Drop me down but don’t break me”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 4 side 2 / track 9
  • “I agree with Dave Marsh, the great rock critic, who said it was the greatest song ever squandered.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 151)
  • Actually used as a snippet once during Bad, but really an impossible song to play because it’s just an improv that they decided to put on the album.  I would think that 95 out of 100 U2 fans probably wouldn’t even have it in their Top 100 and certainly not in their Top 40.  But it has always really worked for me.

#36  –  Like a Song . . .

  • “A generation without name, ripped and torn”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 4 side 1 / track 4
  • This song has only been played once live, which I find surprising.  The first U2 best-of tape that I made was called A Generation Without Name.

#35  –  Dancing Barefoot

  • “she is sublimation  /  she is the essence of thee”
  • Written by Patti Smith  /  Ivan Kral
  • Original Release:  1989, When Love Comes to Town single, b-side
  • A lot of U2 covers are of songs I either already knew or songs that I would listen to and not like.  But I discovered Patti Smith partially because of this song and I love her original.  This is the fifth highest b-side.

#34  –  Acrobat

  • “And I’d join the movement  /  If there was one I could believe in  /  Yeah I’d break bread and wine  /  If there was a church I could receive in”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 5 side 2 / track 11
  • Never played live.  And unlikely to appear this high on any other U2 fan’s list.

U2numb#33  –  Numb

  • “Too much is not enough”
  • Lyrics by The Edge
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 3 – released as a video single the previous month
  • One of those rare songs where Edge sings the lead vocal (because he wrote the lyrics).

#32  –  The Hands That Built America

  • “Oh my love  /  It’s a long way we’ve come  /  From the freckled hills to the steel and the glass canyons”
  • Original Release:  2002, The Best of 1990-2000, track 11
  • Best Version:  film version
  • Veronica included this on her Top 10 list at #7, although she was specifically remembering the version that Bono sang at the Oscars in February of 2003, when he changed the lyrics to reflect the time of year (and the war).  When we saw Gangs of New York on opening night, I remember the really loud, long instrumental intro and then it wasn’t there on the soundtrack.  And the original version from the Best of was totally different.  So I recorded a version straight from the DVD of Gangs.  The song that won the band the Golden Globe and they lost the Oscar to fucking Eminem.
  • This was beautifully used at my show, as an intro to Pride.  Bono referenced many of the things that have gone in the country and changed the lyrics to “Where are the hands that built America?”  It was beautiful.

#31  –  Hallelujah, Here She Comes

  • “I see you dressed in black  /  I guess I’m not coming back”
  • Original Release:  1988, Desire single, b-side
  • My sister Alison included this on her Top 10 list.  This was played live once, as a snippet in Bullet the Blue Sky, over a year before its release as a b-side.  The fourth highest b-side on the list.

miracle#30a  –  The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)

  • “We got music so we can’t communicate  /  Religion so I can love and hate  /  Music so I can exaggerate my pain and give it a name”
  • Original Release:  2014, Songs of Innocence and Experience, track 1
  • This is such a great opening song to an album, it was easy to predict it would the opening song at the concert, and it has opened every concert on the tour.  The way Bono comes out and gets the crowd into it with the opening vocals was pretty awesome.  And that’s before we get into one of Edge’s best guitar riffs ever.

#30  –  Seconds

  • “In an apartment on Times Square,  /  You can assemble them anywhere  /  Held to ransom, hell to pay,  /  A revolution every day.”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 2 side 1 / track 2
  • Played a lot through the War Tour and at almost every concert in The Unforgettable Fire Tour and hasn’t been played since.

#29  –  Running to Stand Still

  • “Sweet the sin  /  But bitter the taste in my mouth”
  • Original Release:  1987, track 5 side 1 / track 5
  • Best Version:  1990, live in Rotterdam, ending with a snippet of “Dirty Old Town”
  • “‘Running to Stand Still’ was ‘Bad Part II’, really, the campfire version, Bono singing about the chronic heroin problem that was present in Dublin at the time, and personalizing it with his experiences of the seven towers in Ballymun.”  (Adam, U2 by U2, p 182)
  • “This is a Dublin ballad.  A song about the city that I grew up in.  That we grew up in.”  Bono says that at the Rotterdam concert and then transitions into “Dirty Old Town”, a perfect ending for the best version of the song.
  • My sister Stacy included this on her Top 10 list.  I knew someone in college who told his girlfriend this song reminded him of her.  When she left the room I asked him if he knew the song was about heroin addiction.  He did know it.  She didn’t.  They didn’t last.

#28a  –  Song for Someone

  • “If there is a light you can’t always see  /  And there is a world we can’t always be  /  If there is a dark within and without  /  And there is a light, don’t let it go out”
  • Original Release:  2014, Songs of Innocence and Experience, track 4
  • This is the song from the new album that took some time, but later won me over far more strongly than I expected (Red Hill Mining Town and Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses are other examples).  It’s my sister Alison’s favorite song off the new album.

#28  –  Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses

  • “Well you lied to me  /  ‘Cos I asked you to  /  Baby … can we still be friends?”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 5 side 1 / track 5
  • My brother Kelly included this in his Top 10 list.  I expected it to be on Alison’s list and was surprised that it wasn’t.  The Temble Bar Edit is a great remix but cuts out the best part of the song.

U2iwf#27  –  I Will Follow

  • “Your eyes make a circle  /  I see you when I go in there”
  • Original Release:  1980, Boy, track 1 side 1 / track 1
  • Best Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky
  • The best song off Boy and this is probably not just me talking.  There’s a reason it stayed in their sets for so long.  It’s been played 817 854 (as of today) times in concert and been played on every tour, making it their most played song (nine ahead of Pride).  And it’s the song I have the most live versions of (40).
  • “When ‘I Will Follow’ came through, I recognized that we’d actually cracked something special.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 101)

#26a  –  Raised by Wolves

  • “My body’s not a canvas”
  • Original Release:  2014, Songs of Innocence and Experience, track 7
  • In spite of the amazing guitar on The Miracle (of Joey Ramone), this was instantly my favorite song on the album, with its blistering guitar.  I correctly predicted at the concert this would follow Sunday Bloody Sunday because of the thematic similarities.

#26  –  Zooropa

  • “Let’s go to the overground”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 1
  • The final lines (“She’s gonna dream up the world she wants to live in  /  She’s gonna dream out loud”) come directly from something Bono said at the New Year’s Eve Concert in Dublin in 1989 going into 1990 at the start of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: “This is the future.  The only limits are the limits of our imagination.  Dream up the world you want to live in.  Dream out loud.  At high volume.”
  • My brother Kelly included this in his Top 10, which I found surprising.  I always think of myself as the only one who loves this album, and I do love it, and have from the first minute this song started playing, just after buying it, 10 AM, the day it went on sale.

#25  –  The Saints are Coming

  • “But the shadows still remain since your descent”
  • Written by Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson
  • Original Release:  2006, U218 Singles, track 17, originally released as a single two months before
  • Best Version:  2006, live single version
  • To use this song to welcome the New Orleans Saints back to their city after Katrina was absolutely bloody brilliant, especially with the opening snippet of “House of the Rising Sun.”

#24  –  “40”

  • “You set my feet upon a rock  /  And made my footsteps firm”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 5 side 2 / track 10
  • Best Version:  1990, live in Rotterdam
  • Best Commercial Version:  1983, Under a Blood Red Sky
  • My brother Kelly included this on his Top 10 list.  It’s the ultimate closing song.  The band has closed with this song at 381 389 shows – the next highest closing number is Walk On with 109.  If you don’t know where the lyrics come from then boy are you reading the wrong list.
  • It was clear from the beginning of the current tour, that the plan was to bounce back and forth between two closing songs – One and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  But then longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan died and this song, only played once on the previous tour, came back in as a closing song dedicated to him.  It’s been occasionally mixed in as a closing song since.  At my concert, they closed with One (which I predicted because they had closed the night before with Still), but then Bono and Edge switched (you can see it below in the One video) and Veronica was confused as to why I was so excited.  When the song was originally recorded in the studio, Adam wasn’t there and so Edge played bass and that has often happened in concert as well.  So I realized they were about to close with “40”.  It was awesome and a perfect song to end the night, with the band slowly filing out.

In_gods_country_cover#23  –  In God’s Country

  • “Desert Sky  /  Dreams beneath a desert sky  /  The rivers run  /  But soon run dry  /  We need new dreams tonight”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 2 side 2 / track 7
  • Best Version:  1988, Rattle and Hum film
  • My sister Stacy included this on her Top 10 list.  The live version in the film cuts a verse but the guitar is just amazing.

#22  –  She’s a Mystery to Me

  • “Darkness comes and she  /  Will take me by the hand  /  Take me to the promised land”
  • Written by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  Roy Orbison version released in 1989; first authorized U2 version released in 2011
  • Bono and Edge wrote this for Roy Orbison and his version is haunting and incredible.  They played it twice on the Lovetown Tour (both versions of which I have) and then have returned to it from time to time, usually only as a snippet.

U2_Sweetest_Thing#21  –  Sweetest Thing

  • “My love, she throws me like a rubber ball  /  But she won’t catch me or break my fall”
  • Original Release:  1987, Where the Streets Have No Name single, b-side
  • Best Version:  Original b-side version
  • I don’t know a single U2 fan who didn’t love this song when they first heard it.  There were a lot of great b-sides from “Joshua Tree”, but this was clearly the favorite of almost everyone (I wouldn’t even hear “Luminous Times” until years later).  In fact, I don’t think I know a single b-side by any band that was as loved as this one was.  So, it wasn’t such a surprise, I suppose, when they decided to do a new version for their first greatest hits collection.  This love is reflected in that it made three lists – Kelly, Stacy and Alison.  My third highest b-side.  The second mix tape I ever made had six U2 songs to start it off – the first three songs from Joshua Tree, the UABRS live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride and this.  I have to admit about the new version though, that it has one of the best videos that U2 has ever done.

#20  –  Mothers of the Disappeared

  • “Midnight, our sons and daughters  /  Were cut down and taken from us  /  Hear their heartbeat”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 6 side 2 / track 11
  • My sister Stacy included this on her Top 10 list.  A haunting beautiful song.

If_God_Will_Send_His_Angels#19  –  If God Will Send His Angels

  • “the next minute you’re blowing a fuse  /  and the cartoon network turns into the news”
  • Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
  • Original Release:  1997, Pop, track 4
  • Best Version:  single version, 1998
  • “It’s a song of quiet anger at the way the world is and God’s failure to intervene.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 266)
  • It was immediately apparent on the first listen that this was, by far, the best song on Pop.

#18  –  A Sort of Homecoming

  • “The wind will crack in wintertime  /  a bomb-blast lightning waltz”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 1 side 1 / track 1
  • Lightning Waltz was the name of an early U2 collection I made.  Because of the effects in the studio, I have never really taken to live versions of this song.

#17  –  Hawkmoon 269

  • “When the night has no end  /  And the day yet to begin”
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 4 side 1 / track 4
  • “Hawkmoon is a place in Rapid City, Dakota.  We passed it on The Conspiracy of Hope tour.  The 269 comes from the number of mixes.  We spent three weeks on that track.”  (Edge, U2 by U2, p 203)
  • Another song that was on both Kelly and John’s lists (John had it at #5).  Only played 8 times in full in concert, but I have the version from Amsterdam.

Beautiful_Day#16  –  Beautiful Day

  • “The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground”
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 1; released as a single three weeks earlier
  • “‘Beautiful Day’ has a directness reminiscent of early U2 but with Edge bringing a dizziness and futuristic quality so that it doesn’t feel retro.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 296)
  • A widely loved song.  Veronica had it at #4 (and I expected it to be her #1), Kari had at #3 and John had it at #1.

#15  –  Everlasting Love

  • “Whenever love went wrong  /  Ours would still be strong  /  We’d have our own  /  Everlasting love
  • Written by Mac Gayden  /  Buzz Cason
  • Original Release:  1989, All I Want is You single, b-side
  • This was #1 on Veronica’s Top 10 list.  My hands down best cover by U2 and their second highest b-side.  I hate the original version.  I absolutely love the U2 version.  A great way to remake a song with some fantastic guitar.

#14  –  The Ground Beneath Her Feet

  • “Let me love you true, let me rescue you  /  Let me lead you to where two roads meet”
  • Lyrics by Salman Rushdie, music by U2
  • Original Release:  2000, The Million Dollar Hotel Soundtrack, track 1
  • Veronica included this on her Top 10 list at #6.  It’s possible my siblings don’ t even know this song, since it never appeared on an album, but Veronica has certainly heard me play a lot over the years.  I listed it above as my #1 guitar solo by Edge.  The lyrics actually come from Rushdie’s novel by the same name (a very good book).

Stay_(Faraway,_So_Close!)_U2#13  –  Stay (Faraway, So Close)

  • “Red lights, grey morning  /  You stumble out of a hole in the ground  /  A vampire or a victim  /  It depends on who’s around”
  • Original Release:  1993, Zooropa, track 5
  • “Well it’s a fine thing writing some songs and putting out a record while you’re still on tour.   But it’s another thing trying to play the fucking things.  This is the second of two for my friend Wim.”  (Bono, 28 August 1993, introducing the song in Dublin)  It’s a great version of the song, an acoustic version, though I slightly prefer the original.
  • Written for Faraway, So Close, the Wim Wenders film.  Nominated for a Golden Globe.  Passed over for an Oscar nomination in favor of a song from the movie Beethoven’s 2nd.

With_or_Without_You_vinyl_single#12  –  With or Without You

  • “Sleight of hand and twist of fate  /  On a bed of nails she makes me wait”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 3 side 1 / track 3
  • Best Version:  1988, Rattle and Hum version
  • Before Veronica and I set off on our round-the-country Honeymoon road trip I made several mix tapes.  One was a best of U2.  I called that tape Stars on a Summer Night.  That’s from the extra verse that Bono often puts in the song – first heard by many people in the version from Rattle and Hum.  The live version from Mexico City is also amazing, but the Rattle and Hum version wins out because of the extra verse.  It often includes a snippet of Love Will Tear Us Apart, which is also fantastic.  This was what followed Every Breaking Wave at our concert; Larry and Adam had walked back to the main stage during that song.  This was fantastic and Bono included the extra verse which was awesome.  Our seats, by the way, were directly above where the person filming this video was.  Way above.

#11  –  Red Hill Mining Town

  • “We see love slowly stripped away  /  Our love, has seen a better day”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 1 side 2 / track 6
  • Never been played live, so ignored by many.  And yet, I love it more every time I hear it.  When I needed a song for a scene where one character obsessively plays U2 and the other character feels the need to flee from that, this was the song I used, with this lines listed above, as the start of a short story.

U2aiwiy#10  –  All I Want Is You

  • “All the promises we make  /  From the cradle to the grave  /  When all I want is you”
  • Original Release:  1988, Rattle and Hum, track 4 side 4 / track 17
  • The Beck Boys song, apparently, as John had it at #10 and Kelly also had it on his Top 10 list and, of course, it makes my Top 10.  Brilliantly used in Contagion to end the film.

#9  –  Luminous Times (Hold On to Love)

  • “I love you ’cause I need to  /  Not because I need you”
  • Written by U2 and Brian Eno
  • Original Release:  1987, With or Without You single, b-side
  • One of the least known great U2 songs and the only song in my Top 10 that no one else had in their Top 10.  My favorite U2 b-side with possibly the most haunting U2 line, listed above.

One_tree_hill_cover#8  –  One Tree Hill

  • “I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 4 side 2 / track 9
  • Best Version:  1989, live at Point Depot on New Year’s Eve
  • This song also made my sister Stacy’s Top 10 list.  The live 1989 version is the second most played U2 song in my iTunes (so, dating back to 2009) behind the Live Aid version of Bad.  That line listed above is a subtle nod to the band’s religion, the notion that there is something beyond what we have on this planet, something which comes up again in Walk On.

U2_Sunday_Bloody_Sunday#7  –  Sunday Bloody Sunday

  • “I can’t believe the news today,  /  I can’t close my eyes and make it go away.”
  • Original Release:  1983, War, track 1 side 1 / track 1
  • Best Version:  1988, Rattle and Hum film
  • “In a U2 song, the hook is not necessarily the guitar, or even the melody.  It can be the drums.  And on ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, it was definitely Larry’s drumming that brought the song together.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 135)
  • This was the song that brought the family into U2.  As such, I was surprised that neither Kelly nor John had it on their Top 10 lists.  Stacy and Alison both had it on their lists and the Sarajevo version sung by The Edge is Kari’s #1.  But to me, it is all about that incredibly angry version from the film, one which I actually used in a paper I did in a Religion and Politics class to show the intersection of the IRA and the Church in Ireland.
  • They played this song rather brilliantly at our show.  The band came out on the platform, which is tricky for Larry.  So what Larry did was have a marching snare drum.  It made for a great performance of the song.

#6  –  So Cruel

  • “Between the horses of love and lust  /  We are trampled underfoot”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 6 side 1 / track 6
  • This was #7 on my brother John’s list.  The song that really stood out for me the very first time I listened to Achtung.

Where_the_Streets_Have_No_Name#5  –  Where the Streets Have No Name

  • “The cities a flood  /  And our love turns to rust”
  • Original Release:  1987, The Joshua Tree, track 1 side 1 / track 1
  • Best Version:  1989, live at Point Depot, with “Auld Lang Syne” and the countdown going into it
  • On two other Top 10 lists – Alison’s and Kari’s (#7).  This has always been my favorite song off Joshua Tree, while I think most other people pick With or Without You or I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  The video is great, the version from the Super Bowl is one of the best halftime performances ever and the version from Point Depot, which begins with the countdown and the bells chiming at the decade’s end and “Auld Lang Syne” is just perfect.  “Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.  It’s 1990,” Bono says.  “Forget about the past.  We’re gonna celebrate the future.”  And then the band kicks into the best version of the song I’ve ever heard.

Walkon#4  –  Walk On

  • “All that you fashion  /  All That you make  /  All that you build  /  All that you break  /  All that you measure  /  All that you steal  /  All this you can leave behind”
  • Original Release:  2000, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, track 4
  • Best Version:  Live, 2001, America: A Tribute to Heroes, beginning with a snippet of Peace on Earth
  • Also on Alison’s list and Veronica’s list (where it was #8).  I loved the original from the first time I heard it, with the slow lead-in and Bono’s spoken lyrics at the beginning and the list at the end and with that brilliant guitar throughout.  Then there’s the single version, which was also on U27, with the piano intro and without the spoken lyrics and with “Hallelujah” leading the exit.  Two excellent versions that were very different (ironically, one of the spoken lines cut is the album’s title).  Then there is the version from the 9/11 tribute.  It is, along with the Live-Aid version of Bad, one of the two defining moments of U2 as the band of its generation.  With the snippet of “Peace on Earth” leading in, then the cathartic scream as the song begins, and then the final cries of “Hallelujah”, it all works perfectly.  It moved me emotionally that night more than any other single moment and it continues to move me every time I hear it.  It was the #1 played song on my old version of iTunes (2003-2009) and is in the Top 25 on my current version (2009-present).  What Bono yells out at the end, “I’ll see you when I get home” returns to the notion of “I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky” in One Tree Hill, that there is something else beyond what we see, what we know.  For someone who doesn’t believe in anything, it’s an oddly reassuring concept, that Bono believes in it enough to scream it out.

U2_One#3  –  One

  • “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”
  • Original Release:  1991, Achtung Baby, track 3 side 1  /  track 3
  • Best Version:  Live, 1993, Dublin, ending with Unchained Melody
  • Best Commercial Version:  original release
  • On 4 Top 10 lists – mine, Kari’s (#5), Kelly’s and Alison’s.  This song was so good coming out of the gate that KROQ announced that the line quoted above was their lyric of the year.  The most played post Joshua Tree song by far (130 times more in concert than Mysterious Ways) and the 8th most played U2 song ever in concert.
  • How much do people love this song?  So much that Bono barely bothered to sing it.  It was the (sort of) closing song to our concert, the final night of a four night stand in Boston.

#2  –  Bad

  • “This desperation  /  Dislocation  /  Separation  /  Condemnation  /  Revelation  /  In temptation  /  Isolation  /  Desolation”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 2 side 2 / track 7
  • Best Version:  1985, Live-Aid
  • Best Commercial Version:  1985, Wide Awake in America
  • “That is potentially a truly great song . . . if I had finished it.  And in a way I do finish it every night, live.  I change the lyric.  Poets have no problem with revising their work.  Songs shouldn’t be set in stone.  If they are any good, they are living, breathing organisms.”  (Bono, U2 by U2, p 152/155)
  • The defining song for the lists.  The only person who didn’t have it on their list was Veronica.  John had it at #10, Kari had it at #4 and it was the only song Kelly ranked – his #1 (it was also the first song listed on Alison’s list and Stacy had it on her list, which was unranked).  It is also possibly the defining song for the band, with their performance of it at Live Aid making them the biggest band in the world (that moment is the prologue to the first book about the band – The Unforgettable Fire).
  • I have played the Live Aid version of this song on my iTunes at home 102 times since we got this computer in the fall of 2009.  At 12:34, that means I have spent over 21 hours in the last four years listening just to this version of this song.

Pride_(In_the_Name_of_Love)_(U2_single)_coverart#1  –  Pride (In the Name of Love)

  • “One man come in the name of love  /  One man come and go  /  One man come he to justify  /  One man to overthrow”
  • Original Release:  1984, The Unforgettable Fire, track 2 side 1 / track 2
  • Best Version:  1988, Rattle and Hum film
  • Stacy had this on her list and Kari had it at #2 (which may have something to do with hearing approximately 2000 times when we were in college).  It has basically been my favorite song since I first saw the video on MTV back in probably late 84.  The second most played song in U2 history, and with three fewer tours than I Will Follow, their song that has stayed in the setlist the most.  I have 39 different live versions of it and my favorite is one from some unknown late 80’s concert where Edge really brings a new life to the guitar solo in the middle.  The film version is better than the version from the album Rattle and Hum because in the film the audience is so much louder when Bono asks them to sing.
  • Veronica gave me the concert tickets for Christmas.  I had only seen them once, on the Popmart tour, which was a little bit disappointing.  But I was very excited about this, especially since they were playing Pride at every concert.  And then, to end the main set, came this.  I have very mixed feelings about this city (as I have made clear).  But after that amazing intro, referencing all the things that have gone in this country, in the middle of my favorite song, Bono says “No bomb can break you.  No terror can make you anything than what you are which is Boston Strong!”, well that was the most moving moment of a great night.  You can bet everyone in the stadium was reacting to that.  My song (and yes, I absolutely think of this as my song), was suddenly everybody’s song.