U2’s The Edge Reveals The Compromise He Made For Bono’s Sake

Recently speaking to American Songwriter, The Edge of U2 discussed his compromise for Bono during their songwriting process.

The interviewer asked, referring to the band’s working style, where the musician comes up with the starting point for songs and shares them with others:

“Working within that structure, what are some of the compromises you face when it comes to lyrics?”

The guitarist explained that they try to give Bono freedom with the lyrics:

“We tend to give Bono free rein with the lyrics because he’s got to sing it. I’ll throw lines in and help steer him through a logjam of lyric writing. With the music, I know Bono’s really a top-line specialist. That’s where his expertise is, so those top-line ideas can be for his melodies.”

The Edge stated that he focuses more on the emotional depth of the tracks:

“I’m more about the emotional weight that is contained within the chord progressions, chord shifts, and the sonic terrain. So for me, it’s always about engaging with an emotional feeling in the track.”

Reflecting more on their songwriting journey, the musician continued:

“We’d often finish a song, and there’d be no lyrics, or we’ll have a melodic track of Bono singing, but there are no finished words. We call that ‘Bongolese,’ where he’s singing without a finished lyric. So he established the melodic idea, but then the actual content we start drawing from the music. The music, again, tells us kind of what this song is about.”

He also gave their song ‘One’ as an example, where they had the music mostly figured out before they wrote the lyrics:

“‘One’ is a great example. That song, we pretty much had it musically figured out. The first idea was the concept of ‘One,’ but then the lyrics took a little while to come into focus. Occasionally there’ll be a more fleshed-out lyric, but in most cases, the lyric is the final thing.”

A few years ago, again while discussing the band’s creation process with Rolling Stone, the Edge disclosed that when completing a song took a long time, U2 often came up with a plan what they refer to as ‘cell division,’ where they ended up with multiple tracks as a result of their struggle to finish one.