"Bad" is a powerful song about a painful
subject. Bono wrote it to address the rampant heroin abuse that was crippling
recession-plagued Dublin during the early Eighties, basing his lyrics on the
experiences of people he knew personally. "I've always had a real respect
for responsible people," Bono said, discussing the song. "But I also
have a real respect for irresponsible people. There is that side of me that
wants to run." The hypnotic, Velvet Underground–inspired track took just
three takes to record, with Brian Eno adding keyboards and minimal overdubs.
But "Bad" really took off live as a surging communal hymn; radio DJs
have been choosing the version on the 1985 concert EP Wide Awake in America over
the studio version for decades, and the triumphant 12-minute version U2 played
at Live Aid in 1985 (during which Bono brought a woman out of the crowd and
danced with her) became one of the festival's most memorable moments. Recalled
Adam Clayton, "It's only after six months of touring it and talking to
different people that you get to the inner truths of the song."