Bad (U2 song)

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"Bad"
Song by U2 from the album The Unforgettable Fire
Released 1 October 1984
Genre Rock
Length 6:09
Label Island
Writer U2 (music), Bono (lyrics)
Producer Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois
The Unforgettable Fire track listing
"4th of July"
(6)
"Bad"
(7)
"Indian Summer Sky"
(8)
Wide Awake In America track listing
"Bad"
(1)
"A Sort of Homecoming"
(2)

"Bad" is a song by rock band U2 and the seventh track from their 1984 album, The Unforgettable Fire. A song about heroin addiction, it is considered a fan favourite, and is one of U2's most frequently performed songs in concert.[1]

A performance of the song at 1985's Live Aid was a career breakthrough for the band.

The live version included as the opening track of the Wide Awake in America EP is frequently chosen for airplay by radio DJs ahead of the studio version[citation needed]. The song is featured on the trailer of Brothers and in the opening sequence of Taking Lives.

History[edit]

"Bad" began with an improvised guitar riff during a jam session at Slane Castle where U2 were recording The Unforgettable Fire. The basic track was completed in three takes. Of its immediate and live nature, U2 guitarist The Edge said "There's one moment where Larry puts down brushes and takes up the sticks and it creates this pause which has an incredibly dramatic effect."[2] Producer Brian Eno added the sequencer arpeggios that accompany the song.[3]

The early 1980s recession had led to high number of heroin addicts in inner city Dublin. In concert, lead vocalist Bono frequently introduced the song as a song about Dublin.[4] The Edge and the album's producers, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, were focused on the music and less interested in the lyrics. Bono left the song unfinished.[3]

During a July 26, 2011 concert in Pittsburgh, Bono explained before a performance of "Bad" that the song was written for "very special man, who is here in your city, who grew up on Cedarwood Road. We wrote this song about him and we play it for him tonight." [5] He was referring to Andy Rowen, whom the song was originally written about in 1984 and who was present at the show. Rowen is brother of Bono's Lypton Village friend Guggi and Peter Rowen, who is featured on the sleeve artwork for the band's albums Boy and War.[6]

There are other versions of the story from Bono himself. His account from a 1987 concert in Chicago indicate "Bad" is about a friend of his who died of a heroin overdose and also about the conditions that make such events likely repeat themselves. Bono once commented in another concert (in the UK) about people lying in gutters with "needles hangin' outta their fuckin' arms while the rich live indifferently to the suffering of the less fortunate." At Eriksberg, Gothenburg in Sweden 1987, he said: "I wrote the words about a friend of mine; his name was Gareth Spaulding, and on his 21st birthday he and his friends decided to give themselves a present of enough heroin into his veins to kill him. This song is called 'Bad.'"[7]

Live[edit]

"Bad" is one of the band's most performed songs. Translating the elaborate and complex textures of the new studio-recorded tracks to live performance proved to be a serious challenge when The Unforgettable Fire Tour commenced.[8] One solution was programmed sequencers, which the band had previously been reluctant to use. Sequencers were prominently used on "Bad".[8]

The studio version of "Bad" was criticised as being "unfinished", "fuzzy" and "unfocused", but the band found that it made more sense on stage. Rolling Stone, for example, critical of the album version, described its live performance as a 'show stopper'.[9]

A staple of U2's concert tours of the 1980s, "Bad" was also frequently performed during the first four legs of the 1992–1993 Zoo TV Tour. Although not played until the fourth leg of the PopMart Tour of 1997 and 1998, it returned to the normal setlist for 2001's Elevation Tour and saw occasional performances during the Vertigo Tour of 2005 and 2006, sometimes even appearing as the closing song for shows. It has also made very sporadic appearances on the U2 360° Tour.

Bono is known for singing a wide variety of snippets during performances of "Bad". Lyrics from over 50 different songs have been included in "Bad", ranging from brief quotes of a single line through to multiple verses. These snippets are typically sung after the line "I'm not sleeping" and Bono has included up to six different excerpts in a single performance of "Bad". Performances without at least one snippet are very rare.[10]

Live Aid[edit]

U2 participated in the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium for Ethiopian famine relief on 13 July 1985.[11] They played a 12-minute version of "Bad", which was extended by snippets of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" and "Walk on the Wild Side", and The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and "Sympathy for the Devil". During the performance, Bono leaped down off the stage to embrace and dance with a fan. In July 2005, the girl with whom he danced revealed that he actually saved her life at the time. She was being crushed by the throngs of people pushing forwards; Bono saw this, and gestured frantically at the ushers to help her. They did not understand what he was saying, and so he jumped down to help her himself.[12] Bono's rescue of and dance with the girl was captured on the TV broadcast sent around the world. The performance was so long that the band was only able to play two of the three songs in their set, leaving out "Pride (In the Name of Love)", which was supposed to end the band's performance.[13] The concert turned out to be a breakthrough moment for the band, showing a television audience of millions the personal connection that Bono could make with audiences.[14] Only a week later he realized that the dance with the fan became a key image of Live Aid.[15] All of U2's albums re-entered the charts in the UK after their performance. In 1985, Rolling Stone called U2 the "Band of the 80's," saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters."[16]

Discography[edit]

"Bad" is the first track on the 1985 EP Wide Awake in America, this being a live version recorded at Birmingham's NEC Arena on November 12, 1984 during sound check. This version includes prerecorded rhythm tracks. There are no other snippets of songs on this version for copyright reasons. Three other versions of "Bad" have been officially released by the band. An edit of the version from The Unforgettable Fire appears on The Best of 1980-1990; with the exception of the hidden version of "October", "Bad" is the only non-single to appear on the compilation. In addition to the live performance included on Wide Awake in America, a live version of "Bad" from 1987's Joshua Tree Tour appears on the rockumentary Rattle and Hum. Also, the release of The Complete U2 in 2004 produced another live version of "Bad" appearing on the digital album Live from the Point Depot.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ U2 VERTIGO TOUR 2005/2006
  2. ^ Stokes (1996), p. 58
  3. ^ a b McCormick (2006), p. 151
  4. ^ Graham, Bill; van Oosten de Boer, Caroline (2004). U2: The Complete Guide to their Music. London: Omnibus Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-7119-9886-8. 
  5. ^ "U2 - Bad / In The Garden / Walk On The Wild Side / 40 - Pittsburgh - July 26, 2011 (Heinz Field)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  6. ^ "U2 Setlist - Pittsburgh - Jul 26, 2011". U2tours.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  7. ^ "U2MoL - Unforgettable Fire - Bad". Muorji.se. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  8. ^ a b de la Parra (1994), pp. 52-56
  9. ^ Henke, James (1985-07-18). "''Wide Awake in America'' Album Review". Rolling Stone. 
  10. ^ "U2 Bad-U2 on tour". U2gigs.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Live Aid: A Look Back At A Concert That Actually Changed The World MTV.com. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  12. ^ "How Bono Saved Me". Atu2.com. 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  13. ^ U2-Vertigo-Tour.com, 1985-07-13, London setlist, accessed 20 March 2008; McCormick, Neil (ed), (2006). U2 by U2. HarperCollins Publishers, pages 162, ISBN 0-00-719668-7.
  14. ^ Parra (2003), pp. 72-73
  15. ^ Bono on Bono
  16. ^ U2, the Only Band that Mattered in the '80s? about.com. Retrieved 31 January 2007

References[edit]

  • de la Parra, Pimm Jal (2003). U2 Live: A Concert Documentary. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9198-7
  • McCormick, Neil (ed), (2006). U2 by U2. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-719668-7

External links[edit]