U2's 50 Greatest Songs

A definitive guide to 35 years of music that changed the world

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22. "A Sort of Homecoming"

The opening track of The Unforgettable Fire – U2's first collaboration with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois – was worked up in Bono's actual home, a converted 19th-century Martello defense tower on the Irish coast. Fittingly, the song feels like a military march, albeit one ascending into heaven. It was inspired by the Romanian-Jewish poet Paul Celan, who – like U2 – wrestled with notions of spiritual faith in his work, and who famously described poems as paths "for projecting ourselves into the search for ourselves. ... A kind of homecoming." Above the Edge's guitar abstractions are some of Bono's most potent verses, a paddle wheel of images, pledges and chants that conjure a ravaged battlefield of the heart. "A lot of rock & roll is banal ideas well-executed," Bono humble-brags. "Whereas I think a lot of what we do is really very interesting ideas, badly executed. 'A Sort of Homecoming' involved a lot of very interesting ideas, well-executed." U2 superfan Chris Martin concurred: "I know [it] backward and forward. ... It's so rousing, brilliant and beautiful. It's one of the first songs I played to my unborn baby."

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