Cedars of Lebanon
by U2

Album: No Line on the Horizon (2009)

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

Comments: 3

  • Leon from Waterbury, CtI'm aware of that, Edward. Just thought this was as well.
  • Edward Pearce from Ashford, Kent, EnglandLeon, "White as Snow" is about the soldier character.
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtWar correspondent? I figured this was about the soldier character...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

We Will Rock You (To Sleep): Pop Stars Who Recorded Kids' AlbumsSong Writing

With the rise of Kindie rock, more musicians are embracing their inner child with tunes for tots - here, we look at pop stars who recorded kids' albums.

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien SongsSong Writing

The trail runs from flying saucer songs in the '50s, through Bowie, blink-182 and Katy Perry.

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.

Van Dyke ParksSongwriter Interviews

U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.

Desmond ChildSongwriter Interviews

One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")Songwriter Interviews

A top country songwriter, Barry talks about writing hits for Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.