Exit
by U2

Album: The Joshua Tree (1987)
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Songfacts®:

  • The lyrics convey the dark impulses of a desperate man. At an LA concert on November 18, 1987, Bono said, "This is a song about a religious man who became a very dangerous man when he couldn't work out the mystery, on the hands of love." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Union - Ellensburg, WA
  • In the book U2 by U2, Bono says this was inspired by Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, both famous books about murderers. "This was my attempt at writing a story in the mind of a killer," he explained. "It is all very well to address America and the violence that is an aggressive foreign policy but to really understand that you have to get under the skin of your own darkness, the violence we all contain within us. Violence is something I know quite a bit about. I have a side of me which, in a corner, can be very violent. It's the least attractive thing in anyone and I wanted to own up to that."
  • Bono slipped on the stage and dislocated his shoulder while performing this at RFK Stadium in Washington on Sep. 20,1987.
  • Robert John Bardo, a stalker who murdered the 21-year-old American actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989, claimed this song compelled him to kill her. At the trial, his defense attorney said that the lyric in the song, "The pistol weighed heavy," gave Bardo "his idea for the mission."

    When the song was played at the trial, Bardo became animated, singing along to it.

    The killing brought privacy concerns to light, especially in regard to celebrities - Bardo obtained Schaeffer's address from a private investigator who simply queried DMV records.

    Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC were taken to task when their songs came up in murder trials, but U2 faced little scrutiny, as they weren't a metal band. Bardo was convicted of first-degree murder and given a life sentence.
  • In a 1987 interview with Musician magazine, Bono commented on the album's bleaker tone. "You could say this is forbidden ground for U2 because we're the optimistic group. But to be an optimist, you mustn't be blind or deaf to the world around you," he explained. "I don't even know what the act is in 'Exit.' Some see it as murder, others a suicide, and I don't mind. The rhythm of the words is nearly as important in conveying the state of mind. The album's real strength is that though you travel through these deep tunnels and bleak landscapes, there's a joy at the heart of it, and I can't explain it."
  • The Joshua Tree was U2's first #1 album in the US and topped charts around the world. Surprisingly, it also was also their first chart topper in their native Ireland.

Comments: 14

  • Darwin8u from Mesa, AzExit was inspired by Bono reading Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song.
  • Nick from La Paz, BoliviaIn my opinion, this is their darkest song. Amazing how Bono can get you in the skin of the characters he sings about. Genius.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaOne of U2's many powerful songs. I had always imagined it was about schizophrenia and the terrible paranoia that ravages people with this disease.
  • Matt from Dublin, IsraelThis song is about a guy and his girlfriend died so he commits suicide. Everytime it shows him and that girl it is a flashback also when it shows him at the grave its a flashback. when he is in the room alone it is present time. he cant stand the flashbacks so he kills himself.
  • Mike from Dublin, IrelandI always thought it was about a man who found hope and contentness in love but was driven to desperation by eventual rejection, losing his faith in love completely and subsequentely commiting suicide...it's a truly amazing song considering all the meaning that can be drawn from it.
  • Sam from Provo, Uti love this song, the live version from rattle and hum is way better tho. i love the riff!
  • Jessica from Lancaster, PaYes people may tell you you have to do things but its not their fault because you yourself did it. You didn't have to but YOU did
  • Kevin from Franklin, MaI thought I heard that this song was about Gary Gilmore
  • Anthony from Dalles, Txi like the song, i just dont like how on the cd you have to turn it up to hear the first verse, and then turn it down cause its to loud.
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtMy personal favorite off The Joshua Tree...though the live version off R&H puts the album version to shame.
  • Christiana from Missoula, MtI have been an admirer of U2's musical style since they started in the 70's. The first album of their's I bought was "Boy" in the early 80's, and their music left its mark on my heart,mind, and soul. I was overly impressed with their music, because it was so unique and beautiful. It was my opinion and still is that they got it, and they were going to get more of it. U2's songs are extremely unique and I don't think anyone can accurately interpret the lyrics in their songs except by hearing the definition of them by one of the artist's in the band itself. The lyrics are deep and profound, usually with some sort of personal experience attached to their meaning by one of the U2 band members. For example, the song "Exit" now apparently Bono has expressed some evil feeling about the song personally and he has commented that it is difficult for him to even sing the song. Why? Well for one, Bono dislocated his shoulder on stage while singing it and another, some mentally disturbed individual apparently killed a person because of the song. Well, people have accidents all of the time especially if you are preforming on a stage with all sorts of obstacles and equipment on it with you. Second, some mentally disturbed person will always use a song or something someone said or did as an excuse for their evil acts. But, I would ask Bono directly where his feelings about this song developed from and then we all, who are interested, will have the best explanation for Bono's aprehensiveness to sing the song and where his fears in relation to it came from.
    Truly,
    yougotitu2
  • Rock from Sacramento, Capod is a very good band that is clean and is christan and they are true to what they think
  • Adeeb from Dhaka, OtherSeems more or less in line with U2's biblical songs. On the other hand, it can be interpreted as one man's spiral into insanity...
  • Nelson from Brooklyn, NyIt seems to be an interpretation of Lucifer's fall from grace.
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