- One (U2 song)
"One" Single by U2 from the album Achtung Baby B-side "Lady With the Spinning Head (UV1)" Released March 1992 Format CD single, Cassette
7" single, 12" maxi
Recorded December 1990 – September 1991 at Hansa Ton Studios in Berlin, Elsinore in Dalkey, Dublin, and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin Genre Rock Length 4:36 Label Island Writer(s) Bono (lyrics), U2 (music) Producer Daniel Lanois with Brian Eno U2 singles chronology "Mysterious Ways"
"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
Music video "One" on YouTube Music sample"One"
"One" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the third track from their 1991 album Achtung Baby, and it was released as the record's third single in March 1992. It was recorded at three recording studios, Hansa Ton Studios, Elsinore, and Windmill Lane Studios. During the album's recording, 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 guitarist The Edge composed a chord progression that inspired the group to improvise the song, which was written as a ballad. The band worked on the mix for "One" throughout the remainder of the album's sessions. The lyrics, written by lead singer Bono, describe fracturing interpersonal relationships, but they have been interpreted in other ways.
"One" was released as a benefit single, with proceeds going towards AIDS research. The song reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart and number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, and it topped the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts. In promotion of the song, the band had several music videos filmed, although they were not pleased until the third video was created.
The song has since been acclaimed as one of the greatest songs of all time, and it is consistently featured in listener and critic polls. The song has been played by U2 at every one 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 band to promote human rights or social justice causes, and the song lends its namesake to Bono's charitable organization, the ONE Campaign. In 2006, U2 re-recorded the song as part of a duet with contemporary R&B singer Mary J. Blige.
Writing, recording, and production
Looking for inspiration on the eve of German reunification, U2 began the recording sessions for Achtung Baby in Berlin's Hansa Studios in late 1990. However, the mood was bleak, and conflict arose within the band over their musical direction and the quality of their material. While bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. preferred a sound similar to U2's previous work, vocalist Bono and guitarist The Edge were inspired by European industrial and electronic dance music of the time and were advocating a change. The band also had difficulty in developing demos and ideas into completed songs. Bono and The Edge believed the lack of progress was the fault of the band, while Clayton and Mullen Jr. believed the problem was the song ideas. Mullen said he "thought this might be the end" of the band.
A breakthrough was achieved in December. While jamming on a song called "Sick Puppy", which later evolved into "Mysterious Ways", the band tried different chord progressions for the bridge. The jam stopped and The Edge tried playing them alone on an acoustic guitar. He noted that "everyone was trying to decide if they were any good." Producer Daniel Lanois asked him to play the separate sections sequentially. The band liked the way it flowed and decided to try and play it together. Speaking of the improvisation, The Edge said, "suddenly something very powerful is happening in the room." On another occasion he noted "Everyone recognized it was a special piece. It was like we'd caught a glimpse of what the song could be." Soon afterwards, the band had developed the piece of music into "One". Bono recalls that "the melody, the structure—the whole thing was done in 15 minutes". He also stated that the lyrics "just fell out of the sky, a gift"; the concept was inspired by the band members' fracturing relationships, the German reunification, and Bono's skepticism of the hippie idea of "oneness". Bono later sent a note to the Dalai Lama declining an invitation to a festival called Oneness, incorporating a line from the song: "One—but not the same". The song's writing inspired the band and changed their outlook on the recording sessions. Mullen Jr. said the song reaffirmed the band's "blank page approach" to recording and reassured the band that all was not lost.
Following the song's initial improvisation, tapes of the recording sessions were delivered to assisting producer Brian Eno in order to gather his input; Eno spent extended periods of time away from the sessions before visiting to review songs, and he believed that distancing himself from the work allowed him to provide the band with a fresh perspective on their material each time he rejoined them. The band were rather anxious about the quality of their material, but when Eno arrived in Berlin, they were surprised to hear that he liked most of the tapes. However, as Bono recalls, Eno said, "There's just one song I really despise, and that's 'One'." Eno felt that they needed to deconstruct the song.
The band returned to Dublin in 1991 to record at the "Elsinore" mansion on the Dalkey coastline. The band continued to work on the song there, adding various overdubs, but not finding a mix they were satisfied with. The Edge thought that they had the foundation for the song, but that it needed "foreground". Eno interceded, explaining to the group that "One" was among the sessions' tracks in which "The song has gone, whatever it is you liked about this song is not there anymore", and that the track had "disappeared under layers of overdubs". He created his own mix, which gave the band a better idea of an arrangement they liked. Eno wanted the band to remove the melancholy elements of the song and persuaded them to remove the acoustic guitar from the song. He also worked with Lanois and The Edge to "undermine the 'too beautiful' feeling", which is why they added the "crying guitar parts that have an aggression to them".
Flood, the sessions' engineer, was unconvinced by the song's mix, saying he "was the nagging doubter. I always felt it was a bit straight, until we did the final mix." The final mix was completed at Windmill Lane Studios in September 1991 on the last night of the album's recording sessions, when some last minute additions were made. Bono did not like a line in the vocals and spent most of the day re-recording it. Later, after the song's mix had just been completed by the production team, The Edge came up with a guitar part he wanted to add to the song's end near the lyric "Love is a temple". After convincing the production team to allow the addition, The Edge played the part once and had it mixed in ten minutes later.
Bono described the song's theme as such: "It is a song about coming together, but it's not the old hippie idea of 'Let's all live together.' It is, in fact, the opposite. It's saying, We are one, but we're not the same. It's not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It's a reminder that we have no choice". The Edge described it on one level as a "bitter, twisted, vitriolic conversation between two people who've been through some nasty, heavy stuff". On another level, he suggested that the line "we get to carry each other" introduces "grace" to the song and that the wording "get to" (instead of "got to") is essential, as it suggests that it is a privilege to help one another, not an obligation. The band have been told by many fans that they played the song at their weddings, prompting Bono to respond, "Are you mad? It's about splitting up!" There was some speculation that the song described a conversation between a father and his HIV-positive gay son, based on the connection of the song to David Wojnarowicz.
"One" was released as the album's third single in March 1992 as an AIDS benefit single, with all of the band's royalties being donated to AIDS research. The cover of the single release is a photograph by David Wojnarowicz, a gay artist who died of AIDS. The photograph depicts buffaloes falling off a cliff after being chased by Native American hunters. The single's liner notes explain that Wojnarowicz "identifies himself and ourselves with the buffalo, pushed into the unknown by forces we cannot control or even understand".
Three music videos were created for "One". The first, directed by Anton Corbijn, was filmed in Berlin and features the band members performing at Hansa Studios interspersed with footage of Trabants (an East German automobile they became fond of as a symbol for a changing Europe) and shots of them dressed in drag. Bono explained that the idea to crossdress "had been based on the idea that if U2 can't do this, we've got to do it!", and it was fostered by the group's experiences dressing in drag for the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. However, the band pulled the video, fearing the single's status as an AIDS benefit would result in critics finding AIDS-related interpretations of the video. The Edge explained, "We didn't want to be involved in putting back the AIDS issue into the realm of sexuality... It wasn't worth the risk of people imagining we were saying something about the AIDS issue through the drag footage, which was totally not what we were trying to say."
The second video was directed by Mark Pellington. It comprises images of blooming flowers, the title word in several languages, and slow-motion footage of buffaloes running, leading up to Wojnarowicz's "Falling Buffalo" photograph. Much like for the first video, the band did not believe Pellington's video would be good for promoting the single.
The group filmed a third video in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience. It was directed by Rattle and Hum director Phil Joanou and was primarily filmed in early March 1992 at Nell's, a Manhattan nightclub. The video depicts Bono sitting at a table smoking a cheroot and drinking beer, interspersed with footage of the band performing in concert. While Bono was filmed, the rest of the band, along with models and transvestites, attended a party in the basement, awaiting their turns to be filmed. However, they were never called to the set and by 3 a.m., they realized that the video was to focus on Bono.
After the release of Achtung Baby, critics praised "One". In its review of the album, Entertainment Weekly called the song "biting and unprecedentedly emotional" and opined that its "extravagant stylings and wild emotings [...] put it among Bono's most dramatic moments on record". In its review of the album, Rolling Stone called the song a "radiant ballad", noting that "Few bands can marshal such sublime power, but it's just one of the many moments on Achtung Baby when we're reminded why, before these guys were the butt of cynical jokes, they were rock & roll heroes—as they still are." Niall Stokes of Hot Press gave an enthusiastic review of the song, calling it one of the album's tracks "whose potency defies equivocations". Stokes said the song, both upon initial and repeated listens, "seems transcendent, a magnificent synthesis of elements, words and music, rhythm, instrumentation arrangement and intonation combine to create something that speaks a language beyond logic, the definitive language of emotional truth". He said the melody was reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and the vocals evoked memories of Al Green and The Rolling Stones circa "Sympathy for the Devil". Stokes could not single out what made the song so "utterly inspirational", but said it was "soul music that avoids the obvious cliches of the genre and cuts to the core".
Q called Bono's singing on the song a "quieter moment" that has "never been so persuasively tender". The Chicago Tribune wrote that the song "builds with the stately grandeur of a Roy Orbison ballad" and that Bono's lyric "We're one / But we're not the same" is one of "pithiest insights yet about the contradiction of marriage". The Orlando Sentinel called the track "sorrowful" and compared it to music by The Rolling Stones. Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times called the "disillusioned" track of the album's high points. Denise Sullivan of Allmusic wrote that the song was "among U2's finest recordings", and she praised its "lyrical simplicity, heart-rending vocal delivery, and evocative instrumentation". She called The Edge's guitar playing "unusually warm and soulful". In the 1992 Pazz & Jop critics' poll in The Village Voice, "One" placed at number eight on the "Best Single" list.
Axl Rose told RIP magazine in 1992 that "One" was one of the greatest songs ever written, and that he cried on the first time he heard it.
"One" has frequently appeared on lists of the greatest songs. In 2010, Rolling Stone placed the song at number 36 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", making it the highest-ranked U2 song. In 2003, a special edition issue of Q, titled "1001 Best Songs Ever", named "One" the greatest song of all-time. VH1 ranked the song second on its list of "Greatest Songs of the 90s", and voters in an April 2006 poll on VH1 named the song as having the UK's number-one lyric: "One life, with each other, sisters, brothers". In 2005, Blender ranked the song at number four on its list of the "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". The following year, readers of Q voted "One" the fifth-greatest song in history. The song subsequently appeared as one of seven U2 songs in the 2006 music reference book 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories, and Secrets.
"One" has been covered by numerous artists, including Johnny Cash, Adam Lambert, Howie Day, Joe Cocker, Mica Paris, Warren Haynes, R.E.M., Gregorian, Pearl Jam, Shinedown, Vanessa Paradis & Alain Lanty, and the cast of the television series Glee. After being invited to join U2 at a New York concert in 2005, singer Mary J. Blige performed the song on-stage and received a standing ovation. A recording of the song was later created, with Blige on lead vocals, Bono supplying additional vocals, and the band performing the music. This recording was featured on Mary J. Blige's multi-platinum album The Breakthrough, released in late 2005. It was released as the album's second international single on 3 April 2006. In May 2006, Blige performed the song at the finale of American Idol with finalist Elliott Yamin, ahead of its full release to American radio. It was also used by Fox for its end-of-season montage after game five of the 2006 World Series. On December 31, 2006, "One" was announced by BBC Radio 1 to be the thirty-fifth highest-selling single of 2006 in the UK. The collaboration was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in December 2006.
In late 2006, a Bank of America employee sang "One" with lyrics modified to refer to the Bank of America and MBNA merger. The video subsequently became an Internet phenomenon. Universal Music Group, the copyright owner of the song, posted a cease and desist letter directed at Bank of America in the comments section of Stereogum, one of the blogs that posted the video.
"One" made its live debut on 29 February 1992 in Lakeland, Florida on the opening night of the Zoo TV Tour, and it has since been played at every subsequent show on U2's concert tours. Zoo TV performances were accompanied by footage from the second music video being displayed on the stage's video screens, with David Wojnarowicz's "Falling Buffalo" photograph appearing at the end of the song.
The song took on an even more emotional meaning at a Popmart Tour show at Mexico City in 1997, as featured on PopMart: Live from Mexico City, where the tearful rendition was dedicated to Michael Hutchence of INXS. Until the second leg of the U2 360° Tour, "One" was played live in the key of A♭ minor, while the recorded version is played a semitone higher. Throughout its history, Bono has often sung the song with an extra verse generally known as "Hear Us Coming", whose lyrics are usually some variation of "You hear us coming Lord? / You hear us call? / You hear us knocking, knocking at Your door? / You hear us coming, Lord? / You hear us call? / You hear us scratching, will You make me crawl?". It was a nearly-regular feature on the Zoo TV Tour, PopMart, and Elevation Tours, but was sung less often on the Vertigo Tour. The verse made a re-emergence on the 2009 legs of the U2 360° Tour; although it was not a nightly feature, Bono sang it very often, segueing into "Amazing Grace" and from there into "Where The Streets Have No Name" on most of the second leg. "One" has also been played at several benefit concerts, including the 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert in Modena, the 1997 Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York, the 2003 46664 concert, at Live 8 in 2005, and with Mary J. Blige on Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast.
Live performances of the song are also depicted in the concert films Zoo TV: Live from Sydney, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago, U2 3D, and U2 360° at the Rose Bowl.
The single was released on various formats including 7-inch, 12-inch, cassette, and CD. All releases featured "Lady with the Spinning Head (UV1)" as a B-side track. Some releases also included "Satellite of Love" or both "Satellite of Love" and the "Night and Day" remix.
No. Title Lyrics Music Producer Length 1. "One" Bono U2 Daniel Lanois with Brian Eno 4:36 2. "Lady with the Spinning Head (UV1)" Bono U2 Paul Barrett 3:54 3. "Satellite of Love" Lou Reed Reed The Edge and Barrett 4:00 4. "Night and Day" (Steel String remix) Cole Porter Porter The Edge and Barrett 7:00
Chart (1992) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 4 Canadian RPM Top Singles 1 Dutch Mega Top 100 12 French SNEP Singles Chart 13 Irish Singles Chart 1 Swiss Singles Top 100 25 UK Singles Chart 7 US Billboard Hot 100 10 US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1 US Billboard Album Rock Tracks 1 US Billboard Adult Contemporary 24 Year-end chart (1992) Position U.S. Billboard Hot 100 60
- with Mary J. Blige
Chart (2006) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart 1 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart 6 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart 10 Czech IFPI Chart 28 Danish Singles Chart 7 Dutch Singles Chart 2 Eurochart Hot 100 3 French SNEP Singles Chart 35 German Singles Chart 6 Irish Singles Chart 2 Italian Singles Chart 2 Norwegian Singles Chart 1 Swedish Singles Chart 27 UK Singles Chart 2 US Billboard Hot 100 86 US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 36 US Billboard Pop 100 64
- Additional performers
- List of covers of U2 songs - One
- List of number-one singles of 1992 (Ireland)
- List of RPM number-one singles of 1992
- List of number-one mainstream rock hits (United States)
- List of number-one hits of 2006 (Austria)
- List of number-one hits in Norway
- Number one modern rock hits of 1992
- ^ a b c d e McCormick (2006), pp. 216, 221
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j McCormick (2006), pp. 221, 224
- ^ a b c U2, Davis Guggenheim (Director) (2011). From the Sky Down (film). BBC Worldwide Canada. Event occurs at 57:49.
- ^ a b "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". Blender (41). 2005-10. http://www.blender.com/lists/68125/500-greatest-songs-since-you-were-born-451-500.html?p=12. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- ^ Flanagan (1996), pp. 6–11
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Stokes (2005), pp. 98–100
- ^ "U2". Legends. VH1. 1998-12-11. No. 6, season 1. "Maybe it summed up the way we felt as a band, trying to kind of go somewhere, but not being able to at the time."
- ^ Associated Press (2009-11-05). "Beyonce, U2 draw fans at MTV Europe Music Awards". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2009-11-05-MTV-europe-music-awards_N.htm.
- ^ a b "Eno". Propaganda (16). 1992-06.
- ^ a b c d McCormick (2006), pp. 224–225, 232
- ^ "U2 - One Sheet Music". Musicnotes. http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/scorchVPE.asp?ppn=SC0030381. Retrieved 2010-04-22. Note: Software required to view the page.
- ^ Hilburn, Robert (1993-09-12). "U2's Pride (In The Name Of Songs)". Los Angeles Times: section Calendar, p. 62. http://articles.latimes.com/1993-09-12/entertainment/ca-34478_1_achtung-baby. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- ^ (1992) Release notes for "One" by U2 (Compact disc). United States: Island Records.
- ^ a b c d e f g "U2: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p5723/charts-awards/billboard-singles. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
- ^ a b "One – U2". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. http://www.billboard.com/#/song/u2/one/843454. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- ^ Flanagan (1996), p. 58
- ^ Cogan (2008), p. 27
- ^ a b Flanagan (1996), p. 55
- ^ a b McGee (2008), p. 145
- ^ Flanagan (1996), pp. 56–57
- ^ Wyman, Bill (1991-11-29). "Achtung Baby". Entertainment Weekly (94). http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,316330,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- ^ Gardner, Elysa (1992-01-09). "U2's 'Achtung Baby': Bring the Noise". Rolling Stone (621): 51. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/achtung-baby-19920109. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- ^ Stokes, Niall (1991-11-13). "Review: Achtung Baby". Hot Press.
- ^ Snow, Mat (1991-12). "U2: Achtung Baby". Q (63). http://www.rocksbackpages.com/article.html?ArticleID=10465. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- ^ Kot, Greg (1991-11-17). "U2 Loosens Up". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-u2november91,0,2879134.story.
- ^ Gettelman, Patty (1991-11-06). "Achtung Baby". Orlando Sentinel.
- ^ Hilburn, Robert (1991-11-17). "U2's Daring Descent Into Darkness". Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61547027.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Nov+17%2C+1991&author=ROBERT+HILBURN&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+%28pre-1997+Fulltext%29&edition=&startpage=58&desc=U2%27s+Daring+Descent+Into+Darkness. Retrieved 2009-12-31. Note: A subscription is required to access the article.
- ^ Sullivan, Denise. "Song Review: "One"". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/song/t1541604. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- ^ "The 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". robertchristgau.com. http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/pnj/pjres92.php. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
- ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone (Special collectors edition). 2010.
- ^ Trynka, Paul (editor-in-chief) (2003). "1001 Best Songs Ever". Q (Special edition).
- ^ "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s (Hour 5)". The Greatest. VH1. 2007-12-14. No. 182.
- ^ "U2 line tops favourite lyric poll". BBC News Online. BBC. 2006-04-17. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4915848.stm. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
- ^ "The 100 Greatest Songs Ever!". Q (243). 2006-10.
- ^ Creswell (2006), pp. 415–416
- ^ One Covers
- ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart of the year: 2006". BBC Radio 1. BBC. Archived from the original on 2011-10-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20071215025341/http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chart/top40_2006.shtml. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- ^ "One Bank". http://www.ifilm.com/video/2795634. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
- ^ Aspan, Mario (2006-11-20). "Lyrics Celebrating Bank Merger Impress Only Copyright Lawyer". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/20/business/media/20bank.html?ei=5090&en=7a77f2691e38a9d8&ex=1321678800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1167338226-NsOMIpdJNF94ZILt4sO+7Q.
- ^ "U2 One". U2Gigs. http://www.u2gigs.com/One-s21.html. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ^ "FAQ: So have any songs never missed a concert since their debut?". U2Gigs. http://www.u2gigs.com/faq-4-Setlists.html#18. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- ^ Pareles, Jon (1992-03-11). "U2 Restyled, With Props and a Nod to the Fringes". The New York Times: p. C17. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/11/arts/review-rock-u2-restyled-with-props-and-a-nod-to-the-fringes.html.
- ^ a b c d "One", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved January 16, 2009)
- ^ "RPM100 - Top Singles - Volume 55, No. 19, May 09 1992". RPM. 1992-05-09. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2123&type=1&interval=24&PHPSESSID=m89iq841abagb37ld9c0fdc1f3. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. http://www.irishcharts.ie/search/placement. Retrieved 2009-11-23. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
- ^ "EveryHit.com search results: U2". Everyhit.com. http://www.everyhit.com. Retrieved 2009-11-22. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
- ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1992". http://longboredsurfer.com/charts.php?year=1992. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i "One (duet version), in various singles charts Acharts.us (Retrieved January 16, 2009)
- ^ a b "One" (duet version), in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved January 16, 2009)
- ^ a b c (1991) Album notes for Achtung Baby by U2 [CD booklet]. Island Records.
- Cogan, Višnja (2008). U2: An Irish Phenomenon. New York: Pegasus Books. ISBN 978-1-933648-71-2.
- Creswell, Toby (2006). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories, and Secrets. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-915-9.
- Flanagan, Bill (1996). U2 at the End of the World (Paperback ed.). New York: Delta. ISBN 978-0-385-31157-1.
- McGee, Matt (2008). U2: A Diary. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84772-108-2.
- Stokes, Niall (2005). U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1560257652.
- U2 (2006). McCormick, Neil. ed. U2 by U2. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-719668-7.
Achtung Baby Tracks Related articles
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.