New Year's Day
by U2

Album: War (1983)
Charted: 10 53
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The lyrics refer to the movement for solidarity lead by Lech Walesa in Poland. After this was recorded, Poland announced they would abolish martial law, coincidentally on New Year's Day, 1983.
  • "New Year's Day" was the first single from U2's third album, War. Their first three albums were all produced by Steve Lillywhite, who helped translate the energy of their live shows onto tape. The band was slowly building an international following, but War got them into the slipstream to stardom, which they were better prepared for than most thanks to years of touring and a band dynamic that worked very well (it helps when your lead singer oozes charisma and is willing to share songwriting credits equally).

    "New Year's Day" was the first U2 song to chart in America, where it reached #53, but the song got a lot of exposure on MTV and attracted the kind of fans that tell their friends. In the UK, it was their first Top 10 hit, reaching #10.
  • This almost didn't make the album because Bono was having fits writing the lyrics. At least he didn't lose them like he did when working on their previous album, October.
  • The Edge played piano on this as well as guitar. In concert, he played the song on the piano with his guitar in his lap. For his guitar solo, he would get up and go to the front of the stage as the crowd cheered wildly.
  • This was the first U2 video to get heavy airplay on MTV, and it was by far their most ambitious video to that point. It was directed by Meiert Avis, who worked on U2's previous videos, including "Gloria" and "I Will Follow." They planned to shoot the video in Stockholm, but when the mountains and snow they hoped for didn't materialize, they tried another location in Sweden: the town of Sälen. They got the majestic mountains and tight shots of the band performing the song, which was more than adequate for MTV in 1983.

    We also see what is supposed to be the band riding horses, which were actually four teenaged girls covered in winter clothes. The guys in U2 weren't experienced riders, and since they were in the middle of a tour during the shoot, it wasn't worth the risk.
  • The themes of understanding in a time of global unrest were a focal point for the album War, whose title was inspired by the various worldwide conflicts of 1982.
  • A line from this song's lyric, "Under a blood red sky," was used as the title for a video and live album U2 released in 1983. The video was called U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, recorded at Red Rocks, Colorado on June 5, 1983. The album was called Under a Blood Red Sky and contained eight tracks, only two of which were recorded at the Red Rocks show. "New Year's Day" and four others were recorded at a festival U2 played in Germany that August.

    The album in particular kept U2 rolling downhill. It ended up selling three million copies in America.
  • Bono considers this a love song. While it is about war, it deals with "The struggle for love."
  • Bono wrote this shortly after he married his childhood sweetheart, Ali.
  • This song was recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, which is where U2 recorded their first three albums. The studio had a stone stairway where Larry Mullen played his drums for this track.
  • This is commonly played at bars every New Year's Day for lack of something more appropriate.
  • This is a popular song for other artists to sample or cover. With It Guys used the piano line as a sample in the song "Let The Music Take Control," Manchester rappers Kiss AMC sampled the intro for their song "A Bit Of U2," the group Dynamic Base used the sample on their "Africa" single and Bacon Popper did the same on "Free." Hyper Logic also used a sample in "Only Me." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Producer Steve Lillywhite remembers mixing this song in ten minutes while Bono cranked out "40" at the last minute while another band was waiting outside of the studio for their turn.

Comments: 21

  • Katia from DallasRegardless of the political meaning, this has always felt like a love song. The haunting melodies, the promise of a return...so poignantly bittersweet. I imagine a lover and beloved who share an enduring bond, one that cannot be broken by time, distance, or even death. "I will be here again." So beautiful, one of my favorite songs of all time.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxPowerful song, dedicated to some very brave and long-suffering people.
  • Paulina from Bydgoszc, PolandThe martial law was announced in Poland on december 13th 1981 and abolished on july 22nd 1983...just saying. Great song, in Poland we believe it was for us, we so needed those words of hope and faith. Feel free to think it was different, if only it helps you or other people in need.
  • Steve from Trabuco Canyon, CaTake a careful listen to the Edge's guitar and effects in this song, it is very diverse. The Edge is constantly changing his sound dramatically throughout the different parts of this song. He starts with heavily distorted guitar in the background behind the piano, then a chopping rhythm, and then he is explosive when he introduces the signature riff of the song. I discoved this when thinking through which U2 to play that would best feature the energy and the edge (E+E) of the Edge's guitar playing and I think it is New Year's Day.
  • Scott from Baton Rouge, LaThis is my favorite U2 song,absolutely love it!
  • Matt from Harlan, KyThe horsemen in the video were actually swedish girls and were told to keep their faces hidden.
  • Johnny from Ft Worth, TxThis sing introduced me to U2 and has been my all time favorite song ever since. Got me through a lot of stupid stuff when I was younger.
  • Baz from Johnson, VtU2 at their best, a great tune well produced. The Edge and Bono at their zenith...others will disagree I'm sure. One of my favorite tunes from the 80s
  • Debra from Humboldt, CaThis is their best song! I love the driving beat, and the lyrics never fail to move me.
    Debra, Humboldt Co. CA.
  • Alina from Karlstad, Swedeni love U2. this is one of my favourites, definitely. the lyrics are beautiful and the music very captivating!
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI don't care much for U2, but I think this is a great song. In fact, the only songs about war or peace that I like better are John Lennon's "Imagine," Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." and Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun." It always seems to me that U2 are wailing, no matter what they sing, which is one reason I don't care much for them. But it works beautifully on this song.
  • Rusty from Raleigh, NcI saw the music video. It was at the woods and there was knights on horses.
  • T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsGreat song, with lovely piano break.
    Ferry Corsten remixed it for the millenium in 1999, but it didn't make it to the shops. At least, not in big numbers. This remix has (if full-lenght) a length of 8.55. Anyway, great remix.
    I've always believed that the lyric 'I, I will be with you again' is about Ireland, where U2 is very very very familiar with :p. The 'You' is Ireland then, but I'm not totally sure if it's thats true.
  • Max from Sydney, Australiamy favourite song
  • Angela from Hagerstown, MdIn the video, when they are playing "under a blood red sky" the sky wasn't actually red - that was edited in later.
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iathe edge's backing vocals are AWESOME
  • Anthony from Dalles, Txi heard that this song isnt about poland because it was written weeks before. just a rumor if anyone can look into it.
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandThese days, Edge STANDS at the electric piano on stage, with his guitar hanging on his shoulder ready to break into the solo when his piano part's finished. He does not sit down, which would look a bit naff.
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaGloria wasn't on their greatest hits ...wonder why
  • Brendon from Paxton, IlExtremely underrated song. Excellent piano, The Edge!
  • Hugh from Kansas City, MoI think 'Gloria' should be considered U2's first hit. It received heavy rotation in the early days of MTV, and helped pave the way for the success of this song and the WAR album.
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