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U2's songs about the IRA


Northen Scum beanie worn by The Edge.

U2, Ireland and IRA - songs that explore 'The Troubles'


‘The Troubles’ is a common name for the Northern Ireland conflict which spanned generations as Ireland nearly destroyed itself as divisions along political and religious lines wrestled with each other’s version of how Ireland should be governed.

In general terms, Catholic Nationalists and Unionist Protestants found themselves engaged in a brutal war where car bombings and ‘knee-cappings’ became the norm. Paramilitary units such as those of the IRA killed with impunity and the British Army became a standard presence in the streets.

Many innocent civilians died as a result of some 1300 bombings, not to forget attacks on British soldiers.

There are no surprises then for guessing why U2 called their third album War.

Larry, Adam, Bono and The Edge all grew up in this era. They were children subjected and exposed to

Edge’s Northern Scum hat

The Edge has said that their songs are are ‘against violence as a tool for politics of any kind’

Let's start with arguably the most famous U2 song about Ireland.

'Sunday Bloody Sunday' from War


The song's lyrics describe the horror felt by Bono’s character of who has been observing  the Troubles. In particular, they are focusing on the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders. The lyrics juxtaposed this terrible day in history with the murder of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

The song thus commemorates the slaughter of innocent civilians during the Irish troubles. While not a 'rebel song' it is a call for a rejection of violence.

This song became very popular and helped draw attention to the issues. As the band's popular grew, they used it to campaign against the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) efforts to raise money to fuel continued armed conflict.

This lead to the  IRA sending a threat to U2 that if they continued their campaign, they would be kidnapped. U2 continued anyway and continued to bring attention to the Troubles.

What's very interesting about the IRA getting upset about a single pop song was the fact that the original lyrics contained the line '"Don't talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA'. Written by the Edge, the band as a whole felt such lyrics might be too inflammatory and where changed.

This bit of self editing actually made the song better.

As the song became more popular, some listeners interpreted the song's meaning as being a call to draw the Irish people deeper into the sectarian battle. This was clearly an incorrect analysis of the song's lyrics and intent. 

Once that issue was recognised by the band, Bono would often introduce the song with the as not being a 'rebel song'. If you listen to the live version recorded on the Live at Red Rocks album Bono says, "There's been a lot of talk about this next song, this song is not a rebel song, this song is Sunday Bloody Sunday!"

Some people thought the song was actually glorifying the Troubles and calling them deeper into the country's sectarian battle. On many occasions since its release on 1983's War, Bono has made it clear that this is not a "rebel song" or a song of the "revolution," but a song that defiantly waves the white flag for peace. 

The inspiration for this song may also have in part been due to John Lennon releasing his own song in 1972 also called Sunday Bloody Sunday about the Derry slaughter. Lennon's lyrics were full of vitriol (mostly aimed at the British government) and hugely antagonistic.

'Please' from the Pop album


Please was in our opinion, one of the best songs from the Pop album.

This song’s lyrics are blatantly about the troubles in Ireland. As the song slowly builds, Bono paints the picture, coloring the world in terms of religion and war colliding to the point where bombs are left in cars and as they are set up, that are the ‘sermon from the mount'. 
u2 Please single cover of Gerry Adams
Please single cover

The single cover for this song features the pictures of four Northern Irish politicians — Gerry Adams, David Trimble, Ian Paisley, and John Hume in a pointed effort to draw attention to the issues.

This photo was a direct message to the political leaders of the Irish people to ‘get up of their knees’ and hasten the peace process which were grinding along slowly – to which Bono pointedly states ‘October, talk getting nowhere November, December Remember, are we just starting again’.

Bono also cleverly entwines the songs meaning to be ‘about a girl’ – so much so that if you aren’t paying clear attention to his words, you could be duped into thinking the song is simply a love song about an explosive relationship. 

In many ways, Please is the sound of a U2 growing up from their Sunday Bloody Sunday era and offering a more grizzled, even more wizened approach to the issue.

Van Dieman's Land from Rattle and Hum



It's not a direct reference to The Troubles but Van Dieman's Land is an odd song dedicated to a Fenian poet named John Boyle O'Reilly, who was deported to Australia because of his bad poetry or more likely, his political leanings as espoused in the poetry. 

Fenian is a coverall word used to describe the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Brotherhood and more generally these days as anything Irish.

The song's lyrics were written and sung by U2's The Edge

'Peace on Earth' from All That You Can't Leave Behind


Described by the Edge as "the most bitter song U2 has ever written", Peace on Earth is yet another response by U2 to the Omagah bombing in Northern Ireland on 15 August 1989. The bomb set by a splinter IRD group known as the Real Irish Republican Army killed 29 people and injured a couple of hundred other persons.

The bomb was to express disagreement with the IRD’s formal ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement which was a plan to forge a path to peace.

Bono refers to the names of some of the people killed in the bombing - Sean, Julia, Gareth, Anne, and Breda. He’s once more expressing his disdain for war and asking Jesus to tell those waging it that their real mission is peace on Earth but more than that, the song serves as a tribute to those that died. That they are bigger than the war that was being waged.

'The Troubles' from Songs of Innocence


"The Troubles", was described by Bono as "an uncomfortable song about domestic violence". 

Bono is being somewhat cute with this statement as while domestic violence is often used to describe violence that can occur in the family home, Bono is also probably referring to The Troubles as being the domestic violence of Ireland and the clue to this is the deliberate title of the song.

If the song is seen context with the album it came from, it's very relevant to the actual Troubles. Songs of Innocence was about Bono and his band mates growing up and living during the actual Troubles. To include a song about domestic violence on the album and not have it also be a consideration of the troubles would be disingenuous of Bono. 

U2 songs that refer to Jesus and the Bible


Bible references in U2 songs

U2 song lyrics that refer to Jesus, Yahweh and the Bible


It seems almost obligatory to do a post on U2's spiritual side. They are perhaps the world's most popular Christian band after all! I say Christian very loosely though as for some people that kind of connotation can turn them right off  but U2's is most definitely a band that is not shy of exploring their spirituallyrical side.

Bono, U2's chief lyric writer, is a noted musical magpie who steals lines from the Bible to help with his song crafting. Indeed, here's a whole page of bible references Bono has made across the U2 song catalogue.

You could almost put U2's song lyrics into two distinct camps - songs about spirituality and songs about politics (such as nuclear war). You could throw in a third camp about of U2's love songs if you wanted but since when has love not ever been spiritual or a matter of politics?

Jesus is a popular man in U2 songs, along with mentions of Yahweh, the references to the Koran and a few other Saints - so I thought  I'd feature a few U2 song lyrics that show case Bono's spiritual side and give a little insight into what I think the lyrics mean and perhaps give a little context on the genesis of some of them...

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For


Many people suddenly found themselves to be U2 fans in the late 80s when The Joshua Tree album started topping charts around the world. Helping lead the charge was I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For which is the gold standard if you are looking for a U2 song that focuses on a spiritual yearning. 

Stealing the line from the Bible's 1 Corinthians 13:1: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." Bono sung  "I have spoken with the tongue of angels" thus heralding to the world where he was coming from yet he then signalled his mischievous side with the following lyric that he had also 'held the hand of the Devil'.

Wake Up Dead Man


In tough times people often turn to their spiritual advisor for support - Wake Up Dead Man is Bono trying to get a direct line with Jesus to come and fix "the fucked up world'.

Originally written during the Zooropa recording sessions, the final version ended up on Pop as an effective album closer. Fun aside, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me also came from the Zooropa recording sessions and asks a question of Jesus.

Yahweh


A beautiful track from U2's How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Yahweh's lyrics are a reflection of Bono's faith (as the son of a Catholic father and an Anglican mother) and points to the differences in the power that he believes between God and mankind. 

The word 'yahweh' has traditionally been by transliterated from the word Jehovah. Jehovah is often described as "the proper name of God in the Old Testament".

Larry, Bono, Edge and Adam, hold the bike while I get on?

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Ostensibly a song about the political troubles that have face the people of Ireland, its inspiration was a couple of events where soldiers shot civilians in Northen Ireland - the lyrics capture the moment crisply by invoking a cross fire between religion and the military (and by extension the State) and the sad consequences when both collide. 

Until the End of the World


This has proved to be an incredibly popular song from U2's Achtung Baby and has been played on just about every tour U2 have done since that album was released in 1991.

It is semi legendary in U2 fan circles for being a fictional conversation between Jesus and Judas following the betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane. The lyrics hint that Judas regretted his actions and committed suicide.

Tommorrow


A classic earnest lyric from Bono. The October album was definitely Bono on 'God Watch' -  exploring his thoughts around his mother's death and the spectre of meeting Jesus.

Stranger in a Strange Land


The entire lyrics of the song appear to be making an allusion to the Emmaus story from the Bible's Luke 24, where the newly risen from the dead Jesus appears to two disciples as a complete stranger, but miraculously cannot be recognized until he offers bread to the two disciples who have invited him in to heir abode.


It's hard to discern the actual message of this song. The lyrics possibly suggest the character is living in a world where they need some help and they need some angels to come and sort things out.

The line "where is the hope, and where is the faith, and the love?" hints at a lost soul that needs some guidance in light of a world they are concerned about such one where the cartoon network leads into the news and the blind lead the blondes.

The song featured on the City of Angels and was a fairly popular single from the Pop album.

Salome


Salome is inspired the story of the death of John the Baptist which was from the gospel of Mark.

Supposedly a seductive dancer (in the modern day she'd be known as a stripper) Salome's super gyrations convinced the King to grant her a wish to which she asked for the head of John.

Pretty random story and sounds like something that got lost in translation when the Bible got rewritten. It's either that or Oscar Wilde had an over active imagination.

These eight songs where only a taste of the many songs that Bono has imbued with lyrics that refer to the Bible or have looked into an 'ecumenical' matter of sorts - Gloria  for example could probably have a whole essay written about it.

Brewing simple tricks for beer kits


beer kit brewing tricks


Some simple tricks to making great beer.

In 2017, you still want to get the best quality beer you can make with your beer kit and so here’s the best tips and trips we have to help you make great tasting beer. 

While often seen by many beer snobs as the ‘stupid homes schooled cousin’ of those who make all grain beer, those snobs are simply wrong. You can make great beer with kits. 

This is a great guide for first time novice beer brewers but seasoned pros may find a nugget of gold to help you make better homebrew!

  1. You've chosen your beer kit and are ready to begin. The first thing you are going to do is ‘Keep it Clean’. This was the same for 1917 and it will be for 2117. If you are making beer, you gear needs to be cleaned and sanitised. Your fermenter and the gear you use to prepare your wort must be in a tip top state of cleanliness. Sure, you can get away with not cleaning your beer bottles but you can’t get away without having a clean and sanitised fermenter. Sure, the Vikings who made lager in barrels in caves had never heard of using sodium percarbonate but you have and you need to use it to prevent your beer getting infected. The best part about using sodium percarbonate? You’ve probably already got some as it’s found in ordinary laundry soak) I’ve had brews get infected and I know it was my fault as I did two kit brews and the same time and both got infected. I am a 1000 percent sure if I had of done a proper job of cleaning my gear (including stirring spoons and washing my hands) I would not have ruined 80 bucks worth of malt and hops. That said, don’t stress too much about accidental contamination….
  2. Use a beer enhancer. There’s no easier way to making better beer kit beer. Beer enhancers are made of basic ingredients, being a mix of fermentable and non-fermentable. They usually contain a mix of dextrose and maltodextrin. Such beer enhancers work by the dextrose being the food for the yeast and are thus used in the fermentation process. Some beer enhancers also have hops added to match the kind of beer style so if you are ordering from an online store, check that the particular enhancer's hops matches the kind of beer you are trying to make. If you want a good creamy mouth feel, beer enhancers that have a high percentage of malt or DME will do the trick. This is because you are adding more ‘unfermentables’ in your beer. The more malt you add, the 'creamier' your beer will be. This is in the sense that your beer will be more viscous, making it feel thicker in your mouth
  3. Brewing temperature will have a massive effect on your beerFermentation is a process that requires just the right kind of temperatures and the right kind of times. Different temperatures suit the differing kinds of beers. A very rough guide is that you should aim to brew lagers between 10-14 degrees, and get those ales done between 18-21 degrees. A constant correct temperature is also very important as the yeast can react to a temperature variance in ways that are not good for tasty beer! So when doing your first brews, make sure it can be done in a warmish area and one that's going to keep that temperature. I often use blankets to ensure that the beer is kept at a fairly even temperature. 
  4. Finally, be a patient beer brewer. Your wort will take about a week to properly ferment. You can tell when fermentation has finished by taking readings with a hydrometer. When you get two or three consecutive days of the same reading, fermentation is probably complete. And if you are properly following the instructions of the beer kit (don’t), you might think it was time to bottle your beer. It’s not. Wait another week. While the yeast may have eaten all the sugars, it will move on to other parts of the wort and in doing so it will clean up your beer, helping to remove unwanted products of the fermentation process. The yeast will slowly drop to the bottom of the fermenter thus improving the clarity of your beer
  5. Hops are like the magical ingredient of beer. If you just used malt and sugar and yeast you would get beer. Add hops and you get BEER! Different hop varieties suit different kinds of beer. After hundreds of years developing beer, there are now some well-established rules of thumb for what kinds of hops brewers should use. This guide to using hops will help you find the hops that’s right for you.
  6. Want clearer beer? Trying using gelatin as a fining agent. It combines with the 'leftovers' of the beer brewing process and they fall to the bottom of the fermenter thus clearing the beer. You can add it any time after fermentation and word on the street that it actually works best when the beer is quite cool. A common timing is to add it a couple of days before you intend to bottle your beer. But just remember gelatin can come from the hoof of a horse, so if you are trying to make a beer suitable for vegans, think again. 
  7. Making lagers can be a tricky business as they don’t have a strong flavour that can mask problems like a strong stout can. A way to improve the chances of a successful lager brew, you may want to consider discarding the standard yeast that comes with a beer kit you might want to order the lager yeast known as WL833 - it's a popular yeast for lager brewing and is proven amongst the beer brewing industry.
  8. When bottling your beer, ensure that you use the right amount of sugar. If you use too much, you will no doubt suffer the pain of beer gushers. These happen when you open the beer and whoosh! It blasts out like a volcano going all over the place. Another handy trick to reduce the chance of a gusher beer is to have chilled your beer for at least a couple of hours before you intend to drink it. I have personally experimented this with a troublesome batch and cooling your beer before you consume it definitely reduces the chances to too fizzy beer. Using carbonation drops is a handy way to make sure you get the right amount of sugar in the bottles.
  9. Oxygen exposure can impede the bottle conditioning of your beer, giving it a quality that you may not want in your beer. Too much oxygen can allow any organisms left in the beer to flourish, giving an unwanted vinegar like quality. While not a massive risk, you can reduce the change of it by using a beer bottling wand. By adding it into the tap of you beer you are able to easily fill your beer without causing too much oxygenation. Make sure you firmly install the wand as I’ve had personal experience where I haven’t and spilled beer all over my garden shed floor…. Bottling wands also make bottling easier and faster as the valve at the bottom means you do not need to turn the tap on and off for each bottle when filling. If you don’t use a wand, we suggest you fill your bottles by angling them so the beer pours down the side of the bottle to reduce agitation. 
  10. Once you have bottled your beer, that’s not the end of the matter. It's often best to initially store your beer in a warm place. This will encourage secondary fermentation to commence (this is sometimes described as bottle conditioning). The ideal temperature range is between approx 18 - 25°C for 5 to 7 days. After that period, you should leave them in a much cooler place with a temperature range between approx 8 - 12°C. You should then leave the beer for a total minimum of three weeks since bottling date before some well-deserved tasting.
  11. Keeping a record of what you have been brewing will give you an insight into what has worked, what didn’t and what your personal preferences are.

Real meanings of 5 U2 lyrics






The Real Meaning of 5 U2 Song Lyrics



To my mind, a really good song is one which has hidden depths - and those depths can usually be found in the lyrics. A classic rock song, can say anything and mean everything. Look at Oasis's Wonderwall lyrics for example. It's basically a love song but without really actually meaning anything - Here's 5 U2 song lyrics that have some real meaning, and with perhaps some devilish bite to them.

God Part II

People often wonder why this song is called Pt II as they've never heard of a U2 song called God before. It's actually intended as a sequel to John Lennon's song called God. John Lennon's song refers to things he didn't believe in such as Hitler - Bono's version also refers to things that he also doesn't believe in but also goes on to refer to how pissed he was at the author Albert Goldman who wrote an unflattering biography of Lennon (and also a bio of Elvis, and given U2's love of Elvis, I'm not surprised Bono made the reference).

Sunday Bloody Sunday 

This one is a pretty obvious song, but newer U2 fans may not realise the real meaning of this song. It's an exploration of the conflict that can exist between the State, it's people and when religion gets thrown into the mix. Inspired by two terrible occasions where soldiers shot civilians in Northen Ireland - the lyrics capture these moments crisply by invoking the cross fire that occurred between Ireland's conflicting religions and the military acttion that was taken - an by extension the State's role in the massacres.

Walk On

This is one of those songs that stray into the say anything, mean anything territory but U2 have but some real context around it to to ensure that it's lyrics are not misunderstood. Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, this song is a freedom song, dedicated to the exponent of democracy and freedom in Mynamar. Poignantly during the 360 degree tour, U2 played this song at every concert and had supporters of Amnesty International come out on to the stage to show their support for Aung San Suu Kyi and U2's support for the people of Mynammar and their efforts to become a truly democratic society.

Spanish Eyes

Despite stealing lyrics from "She's a rainbow" by the Rolling Stones, Spanish Eyes is a love song to Bono's wife Ali - and she is actually Irish thus confusing the heck out of many U2 fans. This b-side from The Joshua Tree era kind of complements The Sweetest Thing in the sense that it was also a b-side and also a love letter to Ali.

Zooropa

Zooropa is a really crazy song that opens the album of the same name. Some fans have been confused by the lyrics of the song - they seem so mumble jumbled and make no sense. The real meaning of the song can be determined when you realise the lyrics are a hodge podge of slogans from famous brands. Zooropa's lyrics have a running theme of irony, tying in the "media overload" themes of the Zoo TV Tour into the context of a post-Berlin Wall Europe.

The song's lyrics touch on how modern technology can unite people as well as separates  them from each other.

Want more? check out U2 lyrics that explore Jesus, Yahweh and The Good Book.

Star Wars Prequel facts


16 things you might want to learn about the Star War's prequel films. You really might...

vader fights kenobi revenge of the sith

Star Wars Prequel facts and triva that any fan needs to know


There's a lot to love about the Star Wars prequels but there's no point trying to convince the naysayeers so let's just get on with the trivia.

Instead, for those of you who love George Lucas' Star Wars backstory, here's 16 cool facts and bits of trivia that you might want to learn about the prequels!

  1. E.T. creatures made a cameo appearance in The Phantom Menace
  2. The Millennium Falcon is spied landing on Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith. This was prior to Lando or Han Solo owning it!
  3. Darth Maul has ten horns on his red head. While Ray Park is famous as playing the Sith Lord, Peter Serafinowicz actually voiced the character. Benicio Del Toro was originally cast to play Darth Maul but he abandoned the role after George Lucas decided to trim Darth Maul's screen time in the film. Benicio del Toro was originally cast but dropped out due to being a pussy. Actually, we take that back as del Toro is up for a role in Star Wars VIII.
  4. Hayden Christiansen played Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith as opposed to David Prowse who previously did the role. Hayden apparently begged Lucas to let him play him. The suit had to be designed to accommodate his smaller stature than Prowse's.
  5. The sound of the hovering battle tanks used by the battle droids in The Phantom Menace was created by running an electric razor around a metal salad bowl and then digitally lowering the pitch.
  6. In Attack of the Clones, Jar Jar Binks stands in for Senator Amidala and puts forth the motion that gives Palpatine supreme powers. This means that Jar Jar, one of the most universally hated characters in the Star Wars films is unwittingly responsible for the fall of the Old Republic and the downfall of the Jedi. 
  7. Revenge of the Sith featured hands being cut off in the film. Anakin loses one to Obi Wan, Mace Windu loses one to Anakin, and Obi-Wan cuts two of General Grievous' hands off and Dooku looses two to Anakin. 
    concept art of gungun army phantom menace
  8. The sound effect when Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber is kicked down the reactor shaft in the climatic battle with Darth Maul, is the same sound effect heard when Luke Skywalker throws his lightsaber away in Return of the Jedi . You know, when he tells the Emperor that he is a Jedi, like his father before him!
  9. George Lucas made his first and only Star Wars cameo in Revenge of the Sith. He dressed as a Pantoran senator, Baron Papanoida. You might not have recognised him as he all dressed up in blue body paint! His daughter also cameoed with him at the same time.
  10. When Anakin is slaughtering the Tusken Raider in Attack of the Clones, Qui-Gon's voice can be heard in the background. This is no accident as Qui-Gon Jinn's Force-Ghost was trying to stop Anakin's rage, but clearly failed.
  11. Every clone trooper in Revenge of the Sith is a creation of CGI. No clone costumes or helmets were manufactured for filming.
  12. The shipping title of Phantom Menace was "The Doll House", Clones was "Cue Ball" and Sith, "The Bridge".
  13. Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to be released on DVD.
  14. When Jango Fett gets into his ship after his fight with Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, he bangs his head on the open door. This was intentional, and is a reference to a famous goof from the orginal movie where a cloned storm trooper accidentally bangs his head on a door (the clone being the descendant of Jango Fett and having inherited this character trait).
  15. "Phantom Menace" was the name of a villain in the "Flash Gordon" comics. Which shouldn't surprise too many people as George Lucas has often cited Flash Gordon as one of his inspirations for making the original Star Wars.
  16. Revenge of the Sith is the only film thus far that does not feature R2D2 in the final shot.
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