Review : "Into the Heart - The Stories Behind Every U2 Song" *

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The Fly
Jul 26, 2000
Review : "Into the Heart - The Stories Behind Every U2 Song"

By Whitney Leigh Harris

Author: Niall Stokes
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press

Into the Heart - The Stories Behind Every U2 Song exposes the great questions and debates stimulated among U2 fans throughout the band's 20-plus year, 10-album history. Questions such as: Who inspired Bono to write ?Lemon?? What innocent moment sparked the creation of ?Kite?? How was The Fly really born? What motivated U2 to want to "chop down the Joshua Tree" and embark into the unknown dimensions of Achtung Baby and Zooropa? Did you know that producer Brian Eno, out of pure frustration with the complexity of its production, nearly erased the ?Where The Streets Have No Name? tracks?

Author Niall Stokes, who has known the band for two decades, answers these questions and more. Through interviews with the band, as well as with their gifted producers, Niall reveals the often arduous task behind the creation of many famous - and infamous - U2 songs. From Boy to All That You Can't Leave Behind, the author exposes the stories behind the scenes.

From Bono's inner struggle with lyrical perfection to moments of pure bliss when a song like ?One? is born in a flash, fans will undoubtedly gain a deeper understanding and respect for what it truly means to create a U2 song. As the book reveals, the roots of many U2 songs will forever remain shrouded in mystery and ambiguities - often expressing a spiritual message - while at the same time stimulating a more earthy, sometimes purely sexual experience.


The title, Into the Heart, is certainly fitting because, as the book reveals, every song, whether a chart-topper or forgotten B-side, originated from deep within the collective psyche of the band. Although U2's early sound is rooted in the spirit of punk, Bono clearly refused to embrace any movement that lacked sincerity. ?We realized it was not enough to simply color our hair orange,? states Bono. ?We realized that what we were saying through our music had to come from a real place or it was destined to be forgotten.?

The book also offers a very interesting glimpse into the early creative process of U2 and each member contributed something unique into every song, sometimes not even realizing where the ideas or inspiration were coming from, or how it would all eventually come together.

During U2's early days, Bono, in particular, is clearly rescued emotionally, physical, and spiritually, more than once by surrendering to his overwhelming need to express the pain and confusion he often felt during the early days. In the book, he explains how he often felt like a conduit for the flow - or often blasts - of ideas and inspiration that he believed needed to be expressed to the world. Sometimes, however, the process would prove to be overwhelming, igniting either an emotional explosion or an implosion under the weight of the intensity he was experiencing. But in the end, he always turned to his band and the music as an outlet?lucky for us.

Into the Heart is a must-read for every U2 fan.
Bad Review

I bought this book myself and I actually found it to be fague. I found myself excited to find out the meaning behind my favourite U2 songs, only to find out that Stokes didn't get into the meaning behind them. Alot of the songs he interprets as his own view on what the song means and not on the real meaning. Another thing is, some songs he talks alot about the production of the song but never comments on the meaning of it. I would say that this book is not worth buying.:no:
I don't have this version of the book but I had the previous one (pre ATYCLB) though I recently flipped through this version at the bookstore the other day. I found some of the interpretations interesting and insightful, but then, as cnelson said, some of it was just vague or never really went into an interpretation of the song, so yes, some of it was a dissapointment. However, if you're looking for a conclusive interpretation or an explanation from the band you will most likely be dissapointed because the band themselves are very vague about meanings, I suppose because some of the songs are just too personal or perhaps they'd prefer to leave the interpretation up to the fans. I'd say if you've got the extra cash and your a die-hard fan (which if you're here you probably are) it's worth picking up. It does have great pictures as well.
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