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U2's Call to Disarm

The Edge explains Elevation Tour footage

July 3, 2001 12:00 AM ET

On their recently wrapped tour, U2 used their nightly podium to powerfully address the issue of gun control. During their performance of The Joshua Tree's "Bullet the Blue Sky," the band screened a disturbing video montage created by artist Catherine Owens that included images of victims of gun violence and children toting firearms.

"The song needed something that would contemporize it," says the Edge. "We're treading a very fine line between being artists and wanting to lecture Americans about issues that are important. It's basically turning the mirror on the audience."

During their June 21st performance at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Bono stood at the end of the heart-shaped catwalk, illuminated only by the flashlight he held in his hand. At the song's climax, Bono turned the flashlight toward his face as he repeated, "What's my name? Mark Chapman!" over and over again, referring to John Lennon's assassin.

In the past twenty-one years, 676,000 Americans have died as a result of gun violence - a total higher than the death tally from the Vietnam War. "It's so surprising to people who come from Europe and anyone who's come from Ireland that in the U.S. guns are so available," says the Edge. "It has always mystified us."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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