Gloria
by U2

Album: October (1981)
Charted: 55

Songfacts®:

  • The title is Latin for "Glory," and the Latin refrain of "In Te Domine" means "In You Lord." (Did you know: Bono's stage name was originally Bono Vox, which is Latin for "Good Voice"). Like all but the most scholarly among us, Bono is not fluent in Latin. He did know some Latin words - mostly because of church - and with tape rolling, he sang what came to him. The challenge then was to translate what he had sung, so he left the studio to find a Latin dictionary but found something better: a friend who had studied the language and could translate for him.
  • Released on U2's second album, October, "Gloria" is a spiritual song reflecting the Christian beliefs of Bono, The Edge, and Larry Mullen (bass player Adam Clayton was not as devout). Early on, U2 infused worship messages in their songs, and almost broke up the band when they feared it conflicted with their faith.
  • With lyrics like, "I try to stand up, but I can't find my feet," Bono is supplicating to a higher power. He explained to Musician magazine in 1983: "I had this feeling of everything waiting on me, and I was just naked, nothing to offer. So I went through this process of wrenching what was inside myself outside of myself."
  • Some of Bono's lyrics and vocals were inspired by an album of Gregorian chants that their manager, Paul McGuinness, had given him.
  • The music video was the second from U2 (following "I Will Follow") and their first in the MTV era. Directed by Meiert Avis, it shows the band performing the song in Dublin in the same place the October album cover was shot. It was the first U2 video shot outdoors, something they did on many others over the next few years because they liked the lighting.
  • Adam Clayton played a bass solo on this track, something he rarely did.
  • Bono (from the book Race Of Angels): "I actually really like that lyric. It was written really quickly. I think it expresses the thing of language again, this thing of speaking in tongues, looking for a way out of language. 'I try to sing this song... I try to stand up but I can't find my feet.' And taking this Latin thing, this hymn thing. It's so outrageous at the end going to the full Latin whack. That still makes me smile. It's so wonderfully mad and epic and operatic. And of course Gloria is about a woman in the Van Morrison sense. Being an Irish band, you're conscious of that. And I think that what happened at that moment was very interesting: people saw that you could actually write about a woman in the spiritual sense and that you could write about God in the sexual sense. And that was a moment. Because before that there had been a line. That you can actually sing to God, but it might be a woman? Now, you can pretend it's about God, but not a woman! >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • "Gloria" was modestly successful throughout Europe but in America was mostly constrained to college radio stations and didn't chart. Most listeners heard it for the first time on the Under A Blood Red Sky live album, which was released in 1983 after U2's third album, War, took off. "Gloria" was the only track from October included on the album, and along with "Party Girl," one of two songs on the tracklist recorded June 5, 1983 at the Red Rocks amphitheater in Colorado.
  • U2 played this at concerts throughout the '80s, then brought it back in 2005 for their Vertigo tour.
  • Van Morrison released an unrelated song of the same name in 1964. A fellow Irishman who U2 admired, Morrison's "Gloria" is considered a classic.
  • Steve Lillywhite produced this song along with the first three U2 albums. He had form for getting the most out of young bands with audacious lead singers: He also produced the first two Psychedelic Furs albums around this time.

Comments: 18

  • AnonymousStill one of my favorite U2 songs! They didn't loose their faith in God!
  • Josiah from F4 Near Stinkwater Next To F4 Eesterust, Gauteng South AfricaI always wondered about the words of this song Gloria. Interesting.
  • Melinda from AustraliaHaving never had the opportunity to learn Latin. Apart from coming across it in hymns at church. I had no idea of the meaning. I just knew I loved it. It was 1981 I think. And here was this high energy Irish band on a barge in a canal or ocean. Singing in a video about what I thought was the love of a woman and the spiritual experience of it. To my 16 year self they were mesmerising. On reflection because not only was the music exceptional. They were very professional for young Irish juvenile delinquent nobodies . Sooo sexy and appealing to me. They owned it. How did Bono have crowd and entertaining skills equal to mick jagger at such a young age. I concluded later they were a lot more mature generally because they grew up entirely in the frightening political troubles of Ireland. They knew life. Further,They are not Catholics as alot always suspected. They are Anglican. Though their early lyrics were always partly disguised comments on the troubles in Ireland. admitting that was far too dangerous back then. So they always avoided being drawn into making public comments about Northern Ireland.
  • Myla from San Diego, CaLeave it to an Irish rock band to sing about God as a lover! Would this be something that James Joyce would write?
  • Jay Wo from Dallas, TxI saw U2 play in Dallas in 1982 at a small club. They opened up with 'Gloria'(the lead song from their new album) and had the audience of about 500 people in the palm of their hand from then on.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesI'd like to hear the song some time. I may have heard it before and recall it. I know the one by Van Morrison and "Them". I like the theme that "Gloria" by U2 used. But I "dono" this song, which is why I would like to hear it some time. Oh, by the way, our nation's motto could have been "E multus, unum". "Multus" means the same as "pluribus" and is quicker to say. Well, they mean the same as far as I know. If I've made any mistake, let me know and I'll say "Mala mea." U2's version of "Gloria" is a Christian one, eh? Dominum laudate!! Deus meum amat; deum amo!!
  • Steve from Torrance, CaBono, from the book, "Touch the Flame": "Gloria" was me discovering my thoughts as I was putting them into words. That's exactly the way it was - a failure to express myself. That's why it resorts to Latin "In Te Domine". I was trying to express my spiritual feelings in "Gloria" - which is a love song - but I found I couldn't express it, so I resorted to another language, or how someone else had expressed it in the past."
  • Jemmy from Dublin, IrelandActually Bono got his name from 'the Village' a group he was in along with some of his friends. At first he didn't like the nickname...It was when they were out on the street and they saw BONO VOX in a sign in a window, advertising hearing aids...Sheesh.
    Anyways I'm pretty sure that's what happened...
  • Tom from Newark, DeNot exactly, Sarah. E Pluribus Unum WAS our National Motto, but it was changed in 1956 to "In God We Trust", check USC36 sec 302 http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/36C3.txt
  • Kian from Dublin, IrelandBonavox, the hearing aid company Bono got his name from, are still around, not just a 60's/70's firm, though they moved from their original shop a few months ago...
  • Sarah from ManchesterNoted the comment on the Song Fallacies quiz:"Some of the lyrics are in Latin."Gloria" means "Glory" in Latin. We have no idea what "E. Pluribus Unum" means."

    Well I'm surprised none of the Americans have corrected this, it's your national motto!

    From many, one" or "Out of many, one," or in a direct translation, "One out of more."
  • Niall from Ireland, IrelandHis stage name was never Bono Vox. He TOOK his name from the Bono Vox hearing aids that were out in the 60s/70s in Ireland.
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandRight, please allow me to put this Latin argument straight once and for all. "Bono Vox" literally means "The voice to the good [man]". Vox is the subject and Bono is the indirect object. The fact that "The voice to the good man" might be a silly name for a hearing aid shop is clearly irrelevant - Bono simply saw the name and liked it. You could similarly argue that U2 is a silly name for a spy-plane, but no-one can doubt that its use by Hewson, Evans, Clayton and Mullen has been rather successful.
  • Jeff from Melbourne, FlYou are correct, I have erred. Errare humanum est.
  • Martijn from Helmond, NetherlandsIsn't vox a female word? In that case it would be Bona Vox. But that sounds like a girl's name.
  • Jeff from Melbourne, FlI know Latin, and, if I am to interpret in te domine, it would probably be into you Lord or on you Lord because when "in" is used with a word like "te" it means on or onto (weird Latin rules). By the way (I'm getting on my high horse again) In most languages like Latin, the adjective (bono) has to agree with the noun (vox). So, to put it correctly his name would be Bonus Vox, but that just doesn't sound right now does it?
  • Brigit from Krommenie, NetherlandsDunno, actually it's one of my favourites, like Party Girl, Sunday Bloody Sunday and all the others on Under A Blood Red Sky!
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiahow come it's never on there greatest hits albums ?
see more comments

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