Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
by U2

Album: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)
Charted: 1 97
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This is a tribute to Bono's father Bob Hewson who died in 2001. Bono sang it for the first time at his father's funeral; it reflects on their tense relationship until just before his death, when Bono claims they became closer than ever before.
  • This was released as a single in every other part of the world except the US, where "All Because of You" was released in its place. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    John - Madison, WI, for above 2
  • Bono's father enjoyed Opera music and used to sing as a hobby. This explains the line, "You are the reason the Opera is in me." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Kingston, Other
  • Bono: "His whole thing was, Don't dream - to dream is to be disappointed. That was really what I think was his advice to me. He didn't speak it in those words, but that's what he meant, and of course that's really a recipe for megalomania isn't it? I mean I was only ever interested in big ideas, and not so much dreaming but putting dreams into action, doing the things that you have in your head has become an important thing for me. The song was dedicated to him and it's a portrait of him - he was a great singer, a tenor, a working class Dublin guy who listened to the opera and conducted the stereo with my mother's knitting needles. He just loved Opera, so in the song, I hit one of those big tenor notes that he would have loved so much. I think he would have loved it, I hope so."
  • The Edge: "It's very hard when people refer to one of our old songs and say, 'Can you write another song as good as Where The Streets Have No Name or One? These are the kind of songs people refer to, but I think on this record, we may have a couple of songs which are equally as good, maybe even better. Insome ways I am still too close to really say for sure if I even believe it myself - and in the end what I believe is not that important, it's what everyone else thinks that will decide if the songs on this record are as good as our best work, so I am happy to just see what people think." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • In 2006, this won a Grammy for Song Of The Year.
  • As a tribute to his father, Bono usually removes his large sunglasses during this song. His dad used to say to him, "Bono, why don't you ever take off those f--king glasses?" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dawson - Draper, UT
  • Bono: "The reason why 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own' isn't a miserable song is because it breaks open with the line 'you're the reason I sing, you're the reason the opera is in me.' He is the reason I have this life, or at least a very large part of the reason. So I have certainly got to a place of peace with him."
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Comments: 22

  • Pj from Dublin, IrelandI remember the saying "listen to me now" was comonly used by Irish parents especialy mine...when as a kid they would be lecturing or telling me off about something...,they would say "Listen to me now" before Blah .Blah.Blah,,,, that would be most people of my generations experience here ..,when you heard those words you knew ,,,oh oh ,,,in trouble here..............Thats where those words in the song come from......
  • Izzy from Dexter, MiEvery time I listen to this song I think of how I would feel if someone I loved deeply had died. I can always picture myself singing it for them. It makes me realize how pointless my life would be without them.
  • Kate from Burnaby, CanadaI once sang this song for my partner during kareoke night. As much as I love him, he's extremely independant. I wanted to reach him. It worked. :)
  • Aaron from Manistee, MiDidnt The Joshua Tree have two number 1s?
  • Uzoma from Kano, Otheri use to imagine making the video of the song, i can make many with fine touch. u2 are the best.
    -uzoma, nigeria
  • Nichole from Terrace, Canadai love this song and always will it has so much meaning for me. i was friends with this guy for over a year (friends as in sometimes a little more) we really liked eachother alot but him and his wife were separated not yet divorced. we were so close to eachother and i member being on the phone with him and watching much music when i first heard this song and that was the day he first told me he loved me. we're not together any more after 2 years, we talk every now and again but looking back on our time together makes me happy. always and forever i'll love him. why regret something that once made you happy
  • B from GlascowTo me, this song is about loving someone very deeply and wanting to help them, but feeling powerless to do so. My mother has had chronic depression for awhile now and every time I hear this song it makes me want to help her so much but I can't because she has to help herself. Thankyou Bono for a beautiful piece of music and a little insight into your emotions.
  • Asd from Asd, MoI don't need, I don't need to hear you say
    That if we weren't so alike
    you'd like me a whole lot more

    Honestly I think these words are the most sensitive and strongest emotionally since "My hands are tied, my body's bruised. You got me with nothing to win and nothing left to lose" (With or Without You)
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtI heard that, a first, Bono wrote this as a very personal piece for himself and his father's funeral, that he didn't really want to include on Atomic Bomb. But Edge read the lyrics and encouraged him otherwise. I don't know if it's true or not...
  • Dan from Lee, NhThe Radio ruined this song, it's so unfair.
  • James from Sydney, AustraliaBono often quotes his dad on the vertigo tour, stating "Whenever I met up with my father at a pub or something, he would always say the same thing to me; Take those f*cking glasses off!" and states before he sings it "My father, would have loved to be, in show business"
  • Acrobat from Adelaide, AustraliaBob Hewson shut down a lot, so I take it from things I have read after Bono's mother, bobo's wife Iris died when Bono was a teenager. This is also why he and bono were never very close. Bono has mentioned many times in interviews, after his mother died, the home became only a house. Thus the line in the song...
  • Emily from Abingdon, VaWhen they perform this on tour Bono removes his sunglasses in honor of his father, who didn't approve of him wearing them all the time.
  • Scott from Sydney, AustraliaThe part where Bono sings "Your the reason why the opera is in me", Bono believes that after someone close to you dies, they leave something for you, and in this case his father left him his big voice. I'd say that is why Bono sounds alot better on this album than any other
  • Teddy from Brooklyn, Nythe music video starts off with some text saying "My father Bob worked in the post office by day and sang opera by night. We lived on the north side of Dublin in a place called Cedarwood Road (?). He had a lot of attitude. He gave some to me - and a voice. i wish I'd known him better -- Bono
  • Angela from Hagerstown, MdWell, it's a single in the US now.
  • Bethan from Somerset, Uk.Reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. This was a new first for U2, as it's the only time they have had two #1 singles from one album, the previous #1 being Vertigo in November 2004.
  • James from Westchester, England"And it's you when I don't pick up the phone..."

    Hmm. Was his dad prone to depressive episodes where he shut the rest of the world out?
  • Matthew Doroshow from Philadelphia, PaThis song came out during the time my grandfather was slowly
    passing away. He was a very proud man, but due to cancer, did
    not have the dignified death he would have wanted. This song
    always made me think of him, and still does. One of my favorite U2 songs.
  • Samuel from Belfast, IrelandHi, I've played this song more times than enough, and cry half the time, being that it's so emotional.

    My father passed away just over two years ago, I miss him dearly, and to be honest this song is tribute to all fathers out there that have died.

    Bono will share a pint of astral guiness with his dad some day for composing this song :)
  • Amanda-jane from Ayr, ScotlandI love U2 because they are an amazing band and i think that i lot of credit should go to Bono because it must be so hard to even sing that song because it must mean so much to him.
  • Laura from Newcastle, Australiathis was used on an epsiode in the second season of THE OC. after all of U2's new stuff this century this song is my favourite! it reminds me of there old stuff from the joshua tree- there better stuff- not totally discarding there other material. this song is real and true and that is why i respect U2 so much as a band.
    Laura, Newcastle, Australia.
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