U2 - One

U2 - One

‘One’ is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the third track from their seventh album, Achtung Baby (1991), and it was released as the record's third single in February 1992. During the album's recording sessions at Hansa Studios in Berlin, conflict arose between the band members over the direction of U2's sound and the quality of their material. Tensions almost prompted the band to break up until they achieved a breakthrough with the improvisation of ‘One’; the song was written after the band members were inspired by a chord progression that guitarist the Edge was playing in the studio. The lyrics, written by lead singer Bono, were inspired by the band members' fractured relationships and the German reunification. Although the lyrics ostensibly describe "disunity", they have been interpreted in other ways.

‘One’ was released as a benefit single, with proceeds going towards AIDS research. The song topped the Irish Singles Charts, the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart and the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts. It also peaked at number three in New Zealand, number four in Australia, number seven on the UK Singles Chart and number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. In promotion of the song, the band filmed several music videos, although they were not pleased until a third was created.

The song was acclaimed by critics upon its release, and it has since been featured in polls of the greatest songs of all time. U2 has performed ‘One’ at most of their tour concerts since the song's live debut in 1992, and it has appeared in many of the band's concert films. In a live setting, ‘One’ is often used by the group to promote human rights or social justice causes, and the song lends its namesake to Bono's charitable organisation, the ONE Campaign. In 2005, U2 re-recorded the song as part of a duet with R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige on her album The Breakthrough and reworked it again for their Songs of Surrender (2023)


According to Bono, who wrote the lyrics, there are two specific stories intertwined in ‘One.’ The first is a son telling his father - a very religious man - that he's gay. The second is a woman in a sexless marriage who has been caught cheating. The lyrics take the form of an argument that we pick up right in the middle of the song. "You're overhearing conversations, and you draw your own conclusion," Bono wrote in his memoir Surrender. "All the intimacies from different rooms entwine into one story about how people are more the same than they are different. But still, they remain different."

The band wrote this song in Berlin after toiling there for months trying to record the Achtung Baby album. The Berlin Wall had just fallen, so the band was hoping to find inspiration from the struggle and change that was coming to the region. Instead, they found themselves at odds with each other and unable to do much productive work. This song came suddenly, the bones of it written in about 30 minutes by most accounts, and it rejuvenated the band creatively. When they left Berlin, they had little to show for it outside of this song, but they were able to complete the album back home in Ireland with ‘One’ as the centerpiece. Says The Edge: "It was a pivotal song in the recording of the album, the first breakthrough in what was an extremely difficult set of sessions." (From Q Magazine, September 2005.)

Label – Island
Songwriters – U2, Bono
Producers – Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno


[Verse 1]
Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you
Now you got someone to blame?
You say one love, one life
When it's one need in the night
One love, we get to share it
Leaves you, baby, if you don't care for it
[Verse 2]
Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well, it's too late tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
[Verse 3]
Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?
Did I ask too much? More than a lot
You gave me nothing, now it's all I got
We're one, but we're not the same
Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again
You say love is a temple, love a higher law
Love is a temple, love the higher law
You ask me to enter but then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on to what you got
When all you got is hurt
One love, one blood
One life, you got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers
One life, but we're not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
Baby, baby, baby
Oh, higher (Baby, yeah, yeah)
Higher (Oh)
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