I have written extensively on how I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King came to U2’s aid at a time they really needed him.
U2 rocketed out of a very naive spirituality in Dublin, influenced by a charismatic revival blowing across the world at the time. Their first couple of albums were pretty introspective in a spiritual sense and then with War they tried to look out. Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year’s Day looked at Belfast and Poland respectively.
From where their spiritual journey had come from, aligning their individual faith with a societal vision was not going to be easy. Then they discovered Dr King and suddenly it made sense.
Pride (In The Name Of Love) and the album title Unforgettable Fire were both inspired by a trip to The Chicago Peace Museum. A series of paintings and drawings by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki holocaust at the end of World War II was on display, and the title of the exhibition immediately struck Bono as a good name for U2’s next album.
While at the museum, the band saw another exhibit dedicated to the life and campaigning of Dr. King The guys immediately felt empathy for him. In their lives, as well as in Sunday Bloody Sunday, they advocated pacifism. King’s belief in non-violence was something they would echo in all their political campaigning. They had expressed hope that a Martin Luther King would emerge in the Northern Ireland troubles.
Pride (In The Name Of Love) is in some way a perfect blending of the early U2 as heard on October…
“One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow.”
and the future U2 as Joshua Tree would bring to fulfilment.
“Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.”
For over thirty years U2 have taken this song across the world and used it is a song of hopefulness and transformation, a song that is a declaration of what love can do and that there is even something more than the mortal life in what one person can do to change the world.
Bono often shouts, “For Martin Luther King sing…” Today as we remember Dr King’s death on April 4, even if it wasn’t “early morning”, I have been singing it to remember him but also to awaken the pride and love in myself for peaceful redemption in the streets of my own city.
“In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.”