Bono explained the song's meaning in the book U2 by U2: "'Gone' is the portrait of the young man as a rock star, trying to cut himself free from responsibilities and just enjoy the ride, the suit of lights, fame. 'You change your name, well that's okay, it's necessary. And what you leave behind you don't miss anyway.' But I think what this album tells you is that some things you can't leave behind. That's really it. It's like the university professor who just can't dance. Deep down we weren't as shallow as we'd like."
On their 2001 Elevation tour, Bono would jokingly say at the end of the song, "that was a song about self-mutilation, torture, and mortality, all kinds of confused things that happen to people in rock bands."
In a VH1 special for the Greatest Hits 1990-2000 album, there is a clip of Bono saying "that song is a reason to go and play live."
Suggestion credit: Bill - Johnstown, PA, for above 2
U2 were working on this song when they found out their friend Bill Graham (not the concert promoter) had died. They dedicated the album Pop to him.
Grant from Annandale, VaOne of the best off Pop, and a fantastic live song, including on the Elevation tour, even though it's well-known they butchered the version on the DVD.
John from Madison, WiIt probably didn't get nearly the buzz of some of their other hits becuase the Pop Album was such a bust. But you are correct Stephan, this song is terribly underrated and definitely the best the Pop Album has to offer.
Stephan from St Georges, CanadaUnder rated song. In my top five of U2 songs. This song is powerfull and is the best of the Pop album.
Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.