Book Review: Phases and Stages

Sheet Music

Phases and Stages

U2: Into the Heart

by Niall Stokes

Thunder's Mouth Press,

184 pp., $23.95 (paper)

In Niall Stokes' U2: Into the Heart, the editor of Dublin music rag Hot Press provides the details behind every song on the band's 10 studio albums, plus all the B-sides, collaborations, and other curiosities they've plucked from the ether in their 20-plus years. In doing so, he's created a Wizard of Oz-style narrative that tracks the Poet, the Scientist, the Fashion Plate, and the Drummer all the way down the yellow-brick road to the current beautiful day. Many of the stories should be familiar to anyone with a passing interest in U2: the origins of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky," for instance. Many others will not, like that Bono composed Zooropa's "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" with John Lee Hooker in mind, "Pride" was originally going to be about Ronald Reagan, or that "One," the song that, according to Bill Flanagan's stupendous U2 at the End of the World, essentially saved the band was originally nothing more than the middle eight to "Mysterious Ways." Perennial live staples "Bad" and "40," meanwhile, sprang to life in an instant and were completed in a single take (excepting the odd overdub). Copiously illustrated, not just with shots of U2, but with inspirations like John Lennon, the Village People, William Butler Yeats, and Charles Bukowski, Into the Heart is a vital chronicle of the inner workings of the Best Band Ever™.

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