The Stories Behind 29 U2 Songs


With or Without You (1987)

This perpetual crowd-pleaser, released on the Grammy Award-winning album The Joshua Tree, was U2's first number-one song in America. Some feel the song is about Jesus ("see the thorn twist in your side"); others think it's about romantic love and longing for someone you can't be with.

The song is rife with symbolism, in both the lyrics and the music. Adam's bass is the pulse. Larry's drumming is the heartbeat. Edge's guitar chords represent the agony of a heart breaking. And Bono's voice and haunting lyrics are the personification of love and longing and the agony of unrequited love.

When his voice cries out, you know he's not just reciting the words but truly feeling the pain of loving someone he can't be with . . . and you feel that pain with him.