Song of the Day #1,352: ‘One’ – U2

My recent countdown of favorite 90s bands might have given the impression that the decade really and truly sucked.

And while I do think the 90s pale in comparison to, say, the 60s and 80s in terms of signature sound, some of my favorite work was produced during the decade.

To prove the point, over the next several weeks I will count down my 20 favorite albums released in the 90s.

Browsing my CD collection, I came up with 53 titles I considered for the final list. Some where by one-album wonders, others by established artists who have made in impression in multiple decades.

The final list of 20 is a mixed bag of albums that I love for sentimental reasons, for “time machine” reasons and for purely artistic reasons. As always with these lists, the bottom half could easily be reshuffled or replaced with titles that didn’t make the cut. But here’s how things shook out this time around.

Best Albums of the 90s – #20
Achtung Baby – U2 (1991)

Four years after their breakthrough album, The Joshua Tree, U2 returned with a reinvented sound and image. 1991’s Achtung Baby was less open-hearted and anthemic than its predecessor, and more dirty, sexy and fun. If The Joshua Tree summed up the earnest, bombastic 80s, this new record introduced the self-aware cynicism of the 90s.

The Joshua Tree kick-started my U2 fandom and Achtung Baby cemented it. Songs such as ‘So Cruel,’ ‘Fly’ and ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’ felt fresh and weird in an eye-opening way. Twenty years later, those two albums remain the peak of U2’s output (though they’ve done plenty of great work in the meantime).

‘One,’ the most celebrated song on Achtung Baby, is a bit of a throwback to their 80s style. Unapologetically anthemic, it comments on a hopelessly fragmented society in which people have no choice but to “carry each other” despite our differences.

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

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
One

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
See we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love is a higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t keep holding on
To what you got
When all you’ve 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

One…
One…

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,352: ‘One’ – U2

  1. Dana says:

    Well, as you know, I have stubbornly refused to jump on the U2 bandwagon. My aversion to U2 goes way back to the 80’s when they were the “it” band and, as their fame grew, so did my contempt. I don’t like the Edge’s signature guitar sound and I don’t like Bono’s voice. There are a few of their songs that I like (“Angel of Harlem” comes to mind), but they are to me what I suppose the Eagles are to you.

    Today’s anthemic song stands on the forefront of so much that I don’t like about this band. Anthemic…pompous….over the top….heavy handed….

    Next…

  2. Amy says:

    I don’t have any connection to this album. It’s Joshua Tree all the way for me (in terms of U2’s iconic album). I can’t say I even recognize a single song you mentioned. Still, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a top 20 album list for any decade, so I’m not surprised to see Bono and friends make the cut.

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