On No Line on the Horizon, Bono wrote songs with characters in mind. This atmospheric ballad was penned from the point of view of a war correspondent. Bono told Q magazine February 2009 that "I meet a lot of them of course in my other life." He added: "I'm sick of me. I'm sick of Bono and I am him. That might be glib. But as an artist I felt it was a little limiting to be in the first person, so I allowed myself just to wear the clothes of characters that wandered in my imagination." He added: "The guy in 'Cedars of Lebanon' is a war correspondent. I meet a lot of them in my other life. And I have a lot of empathy because I'd probably be one."
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
The song (and the album) closes with the lyric: "Choose you enemies carefully, 'cause they will define you/ Make then interesting, because in some ways they will mind you/ They're not there in the beginning, but when your story ends/ Gonna last longer with you than your friends." The Observer Music Monthly February 2009 asked Bono if he was singing the lines from experience. He replied: "In a way, I guess. I think one of the things that has set our band apart is the fact that we chose interesting enemies. We didn't choose the obvious enemies - The Man, the establishment. We didn't buy into that. Our credo was: no them, there's only us. Think about it. Every other band was us and them. The Clash, our great heroes. Then U2 arrived and it was no them, only us."
This features a sample of "Against the Sky" by the ambient musicians Harold Budd and Brian Eno. It can be found on their 1984 album, Pearl. Brian Eno co-produced the No Line on The Horizon, though Daniel Lanois is the accredited producer of this track.
Co-producer Daniel Lanois told The National Post that he took a special interest in this song. He explained: "I built that arrangement through my editing process similar to 'Fez-Being Born.' In the early '80s Eno and I worked with a great artist named Harold Budd. We made an ambient record called The Pearl. I always loved this particular track on The Pearl, so I based the mood of 'Cedars' on kind of an excerpt from The Pearl. And then Larry Mullen came in with a killer drum part on that, I was really proud of him. I love the mood on that track; it's really thick with ambience. Almost like a direct throwback to the early '80s, to what I was doing with Eno. I'm proud of it, it's a nice revisit to that work. I didn't think I would ever push the ambient gas pedal any more, but there it is."