Bono wrote this after going on a relief mission in Ethiopia. It's an anti-apartheid song, but the lyrics make a broad political statement about how money seems to be more important than personal freedoms in the eyes of many world leaders.
Bono was part of Little Steven Van Zandt's 1985 Artists United Against Apartheid collaboration, which brought attention to the racist policy in South Africa and to the plight of Nelson Mandela. Over the years, Bono has been part of many causes as he uses his celebrity status to gain access to political leaders and raise money for relief organizations.
This was first released as an acoustic song on the compilation Artists United Against Apartheid, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones sitting in with Bono. Little Steven put Artists Against Apartheid together with the intention of releasing just one song - "Sun City." Some of the artists offered other songs, so they were able to release a full album.
Bono got the lyric "I have seen the comings and goings, the captains and the kings," from Irish poet Brendan Behan. The line, "I am someone" came from a quote by US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
Before The Edge's guitar solo, Bono says: "OK Edge, play The Blues."
This appeared on the 7" single that also included "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "Sweetest Thing."
Peter from Buffalo, NyAfter doing a project for my 10th grade global class, i came to realize that Bono wrote this song to remind the world of the Apartheid that was going on in South Africa. It was written in 1988, just before the "iron curtain" was lifted from Europe and the Berlin Wall was taken down. Bono wanted to remind the people of the world that there were still human rights violations going on around them, and even though the Soviets had just about split up and the troubles in Europe were just about over. Nelson Mandela had been arrested for his Anti-Apartheid actions in the ANC in the 1960. He was imprisoned for 27 years, which would have him coming out in 1987. Being written in 1988, this song is about him. On the album rattle and hum, the song is preformed live. at the end, bono explains the significances of the song.
"This is a song written about a man in a shanty town outside of Johannesburg. A man who's sick and tired of looking down the barrel of white South Africa. A man who is at the point where he is ready to take up arms against his oppressor. A man who has lost faith in the peacemakers of the west while they argue and while they fail to support a man like bishop Tutu and his request for economic sanctions against South Africa."
this is what Bono says after preforming the song. He really wanted the world to rememeber Mandela. and in 1994, Mandela became the 1st Black president of the new South Africa, that was NOT under apartheid. Bono and U2 have always been good for songs about human rights violations and this time it paid off
Marius from LÃ¼neburg, GermanyAmy, don't you confound that with "desire"?!
Amy Friel from Barrie, CanadaI like the "Money, money, money, money" line. It's very bitter, almost mocking. Kudos to U2 for having the balls to tackle apartheid.
Ted from Los Angeles, NyThis is a remake of the Burl Ives hit sung by Sam the Snowman in "Rudolph the Reindeer."