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Pride (In The Name Of Love) (U2) (Ireland)
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A classic song from U2 and a cry against violence.

1.
One man come in the name of Love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of Love!

What more in the name of Love?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?
2.
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?

(nobody like you... there's nobody like you...)

Mmm...mmm...mmm...
3.
Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of Love?

The language in the lyrics is not very difficult, the difficult part is the meaning of the sentences, since everything is charged with implicit historical references. So to understand the meaning of the lyrics go and look under the "Meaning" tab.

Additionaly, some of the language used here is deliberatly reflecting the black creole English you find in the Caribbean (maybe to make it all sound more gospel-like or something), for example constructions like "one man come" (= one man comes), "one man come he to justify" (=one man comes to justify),  "one man he resist" (= one man resists), etc. This grammar is definitely not standard English or even Irish at all.

ONE MAN= It may be literally one person (in that case, Jesus), or it may be a type of person, thus referring to a group of people sharing a quality.

LOVE= All along the song, this word means "God" (except maybe in the question "what more in the name of love?").

JUSTIFY= To free a person from the guilt and penalty caused by sin. In Christian theology, sin separated men from God, and Jesus "justified us" by making possible the deletion of sin, so we can achieve union with God.

OVERTHROW= To destroy the established power (government, institution, etc), especially by force.

IN THE NAME OF LOVE!= This expression is equivalent to "for God's sake!" and it is an exclamation we can use to express that we are very tired of a bad situation or that we think a situation has gone too far.

WHAT MORE IN THE NAME OF LOVE?= Here "Love" could also mean "God", but probably means literally "love", so this rhetorical question expresses that he is shocked by all the terrible things some people do in the name of God or in the name of love. A reference to people who kill and practise violence in the name of a "Greater Good" (as Hitler would say).

BARBED WIRE FENCE= See picture.

WASHED ON...= Pushed by the sea onto the coast.

BETRAY= To give aid or information to an enemy of; commit treason against.

SHOT= A gunshot.

RINGS OUT= Make a very loud noise.

THEY TOOK YOUR LIFE= They killed you.

PRIDE= A sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect.

U2= You too

To understand U2's song we need to bear in mind two important facts that affect many of their songs:

1- They are deeply Christian and many of their songs have an implicit or explicit Christian message or use frequent Christian imaginary and metaphors and Bible references to express important ideas (especially their first and last period, with a confused phase in the middle, when they sang: "but I still haven't found what I'm looking for")

2- They are from Ireland and very concerned with all the terrorism and violence between nationalists and unionists in the north at the time. U2 took a clear stand against violence and terrorism and in favour of a peaceful solution to the conflict. This non-violence attitude built on a Christian foundation, together with a strong rejection of injustice and oppression of any kind, is present in one way or another in many of their lyrics.

Definition of PRIDE:
1. A sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect.
2. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association: parental pride.
3. Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness.

In this song, "pride" is used in the senses 1 and 2, not in the negative sense 3.

This song is a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. but also to many people throughout history who have sacrificed their lives in the name of love, looking for justice and practising non-violence to achieve their goal. It is about people who lived their life with pride. Not in a boastful way, but with the pride a person has when their thoughts and actions are motivated by their understanding and full awareness of the dignity and sanctity of all human life. They were martyrs who were ready to die, not to kill, because their life and death was an expression of God's love for all humanity. That is what makes them heroes. All these heroes (but especially M.L. King) are compared to Jesus, who also fought injustice and oppression through non-violence and died for it.

Other so-called "heroes" from past and present looked for justice fighting and killing others, but the end doesn't justify the means, that's what U2 is trying to express in the middle of all the fighting and terrorism that was striking Ireland at that time. So to bring the message home, U2 uses the recent example of Martin Luther King as an alternative way of liberation as opposed to the terrorism of the IRA.

The song is construed to highlight the similarities between Dr. King and Jesus, but there are two interpretations of this song:
1- Stanzas 1 and 2 are talking about non-violence heroes of the past (mainly Jesus but also others) who came in the name of God, as compared to other people who were violent or didn't care at all. In this case the song would have a contrasting composition of good-bad-good-bad in both stanzas. Stanza 3 is talking about Martin Luther King.
2- Stanzas 1 and 2 are talking about Jesus and stanza 3 is talking about M.L. King as an example of the ideals Jesus came to show.
Let's analyse the song line by line according to interpretation 1, using then "ATL=" to introduce the second interpretation.

One man come in the name of Love= Love is a reference to God, so it means that some people were sent by God with a specific mission to show God's love, they came in the name of God. The phrase "one man" is used here in a general sense, so it really means "some people". ATL= If stanzas 1 and 2 are all talking always about Jesus, then this "one man" would mean exactly that, one man: Jesus.

One man come and go= Some people came to this world and went (died), but they made no difference, their life was not useful. So here is a contrast between the heroes sent from God with a mission, and people who don't want to get involved and do nothing about injustice. ALT= This line simply means that he came to earth and died.

One man come he to justify= (One man came to justify). The term "justification" (to free from the guilt of sin) is a Christian theological term that means something similar to salvation, so this is an obvious reference to Jesus, who came to this world to save us and to justify us. ALT= same.

One man to overthrow= Some people came to destroy the established power using violence. These violent "heroes" who also fought injustice, are opposed to the real heroes who came in the name of Love, and so they make no use of violence. ALT= The word "overthrow" usually carries the idea of violence, but not always, so we can use this to talk about how Jesus radically changed the balance of power and justice then and now, and they use the strong word "overthrow" to emphasize the enormity of that change.

In the name of Love!= This expression is equivalent to "for God's sake!" and it is an exclamation we can use to express that we are very tired of a bad situation or that we think a situation has gone too far. ALT= This expression is not used to express we're fed up, it is simply used to emphasize the next question.

What more in the name of Love?= A rhetorical question that expresses that he is shocked by all the things people do in the name of Love/God. This is a clear reference, I think, to IRA terrorism at the time, but it could be equally applied to many other forms of violence (Al-Qaeda, ETA, etc.). This line is not against people who practise violence, it's about those who practise violence in the conviction that they are fighting for justice, so they do terrible things in the name of love. ALT= Jesus gave up everything for us in the name of love, including his life, so what more could a man do? nothing.

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
= Probably a reference to the soldiers of WWI, who fought mainly among trenches and barbed wired barriers. ALT= a metaphoric reference to Jesus' crown of thorns, similar to a barbed wire fence.

One man he resist= The pacifists who opposed the war. Again, there is a contrast between violent people (the soldiers) and non-violent people (the pacifists); people who practise evil, and people who resist evil. ALT= Jesus resisted evil, injustice and opression, and he also resisted the temptation of using violence for that.

One man washed on an empty beach= Probably a reference to Irish poet, (revolutionary and nationalist) Roger Casement, who was captured on the beach of Banna Strand in 1916, arrested and executed for his part in the Easter Rising (a revolt to free Ireland from British rule). If the interpretation number 1 (good-bad-good-bad) , this line would fit into the negative part, because this Irish activist supported violence and so he could be condemned as an early form of Irish terrorism, which U2 strongly opposes. Here, we are supposing that "washed" means "washed up onto..." "carried by the sea onto the shore", as if surviving a shipwreck (which was not the case; he was dropped there by a German submarine). ALT= this is a reference to Jesus' baptism, so "washed" would be literal, meaning "having water poured on him" (or getting into the waters of the Jordan River), and beach would simply mean "river bank".
 
One man betrayed with a kiss= Jesus was betrayed by Judas with a kiss when he kissed Jesus as a signal to show the soldiers whom they had to arrest. ALT= same.

Nobody like you= If the song is mainly about M.L. King, maybe this is a reference to him, but it may also be a reference to Jesus or God, since he is also present all through the song as the model against which everybody else compares. And really, saying that M.L. King is the best man in history would be going a bit too far, especially for a Christian band like U2. ALT= same.

Early morning, April 4= This paragraph is all about M.L. King, so this is clearly a mistake. He was killed on April 4 (1968) but at 6pm, so it should be "early evening". Some people suggest that the song was originally composed about Jesus and non-violent heroes in general, and later modify to make a special tribute to M.L. King, so this "early morning" would be part of the first composition, referring to Jesus' resurrection early in the morning. Then, when they changed this line and the next to introduce references to Mr. King, they forgot to change this.

Shot rings out in the Memphis sky= The gun shots that killed M.L. King in Memphis.

Free at last, they took your life= For a believer, death is not the end, it is a liberation because we leave this world of suffering and enter a glorious eternal life, so when M.L. King died, he was "free at last", especially considering that he was fighting for his freedom and that of all his fellow black people. Actually, on M.L. King's tombstone we can read the inscription: "Free at Last, Free at Last. Thank God Almighty I'm Free at Last".

They could not take your pride= All your worth and your deeds remained after your death, they couldn't humiliate your memory or destroy people's admiration for you.

So as you can see, both interpretations (1 and 2) make sense, although some lines fit best with No.1 and some best with No.2. But, personally, I think Bono built a broad frame about Jesus as the model for non-violence fight, and used it all as an introduction to the final reference to M.L. King (that would be the climax), so we can better understand what King's life really meant. Besides, being King himself a Christian pastor, he obviously built his non-violence movement on Jesus' foundations.

Crutchead insists that the whole lyrics were originally about Jesus and goes as far as to reconstruct the probably original paragraph before it was modified to include references to Luther King:

Early morning - April morn,
A shout cries out from the midst of the sky,
Free at last they took your life,
But they could not take your Life!


And sure, it fits beautifully with the present song and with the Biblical expressions used to talk about Jesus' resurrection, but most probably this reconstruction is only a nice (and clever) theory.

Note: M. Luther King is a black American activist and clergyman who fought for the civil rights of the black population using non-violence. Thanks to his leadership and inspiration, black people won the battle for equality and discrimination laws were abolished.

The relevance of the lyrics to the armed Irish conflict is well established by the video which, at the beginning and the end, shows images of Ireland. This is U2's way of saying to IRA: Your cause may be just, but violence is simply NOT the way. (Al-Qaeda, ETA and so many others today, including some governments, still need to hear this message loud and clear)

4:07            
 
 

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