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."