This song is about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese activist who was sentenced to house arrest in 1989 for protesting her government. Earlier that year, while walking with some of her supporters, soldiers blocked their path and pointed rifles at them. Suu Kyi kept walking, despite orders to stop. The soldiers threatened to shoot her, but didn't. Her actions have been closely monitored by the government, but she remains an influential leader and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her house arrest ended in 2010 and she was released.
"It's a song about nobility and personal sacrifice," Bono explains in the book U2 by U2, "about doing what's right, even if your heart is telling you otherwise... Love, in the highest sense of the word, is the only think that you can always take with you, in your heart. At some point you are going to have to lose everything else anyway."
The album All That You Can't Leave Behind was banned in Myanmar (Burma became Myanmar in 1989) because of this song. U2 had a page on their website about the situation in Burma, where citizens were often killed or forced into labor.
U2 and Kyi were both awarded the Honorary Freedom of Dublin award in 2000. The band met Kyi's son, who accepted the award, and became interested in her work.
Bono got the idea for this when he saw the 1995 movie Beyond Rangoon, which was about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The film was directed by John Boorman.
U2 played this as the last song on their 2001 Elevation Tour. In the US, it was the most profitable tour of the year, making $69 million.
In 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a majority in historic elections in Myanmar. She took the position of state counselor and assumed a leadership role in the country. In 2017, the military drove out hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in what the United Nations termed "ethnic cleansing."
Aung San Suu Kyi came under fire for her role in the atrocity, with those who championed her aghast. "Maybe she was always a politician," Bono told Rolling Stone. "She was not a saint. She was not some sort of savior. Maybe we were always wrong, and we just have to accept we were wrong. Or maybe something terrible has happened to her that we just don't know."
The album title comes from a line in this song: "The only baggage you can bring is all that you can't leave behind."
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the actor George Clooney helped organize the "Tribute To Heroes" telethon to benefit the victims. There was a great deal of international support for America at this time, and U2 helped out with a live performance of this song from London, where it was 1 a.m. when they played.
Dave Stewart from Eurythmics joined on guitar and Natalie Imbruglia added vocals. Stewart and U2 later collaborated on the song "American Prayer."
This won the 2001 Grammy for Record of the Year. U2 performed the song to open the show, and won the first award given out when "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" won Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.
For the first time in the history of the Grammy Awards, songs from the same album won Record of the Year in consecutive years. The 2000 award went to "Beautiful Day," which qualified because it was released earlier. Between the two years, music from All That You Can't Leave Behind won seven Grammy Awards.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
A remix by Nigel Goodrich was included on a 2002 album of U2 B-sides and alternate versions called U2 7.
This was the first Grammy winner for Record of the Year not to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
The video was shot in Brazil. It was directed by Jonas Ackerlund, who also worked on the video for "Beautiful Day."
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, MTV made its own tribute video showing news clips from the attacks and the aftermath set to this song.
Meocyber from Alma, Co just saw U2 in May 2011, This was one of their closers. Typical superb musicianship and deep lyrics. Now, the GReatest Band in the world! I totally can't choose my fave of theirs.
Prashant from Kathmandu, NepalRly there are no words to express how his voice and the words coming from it make me feel..... this song is so special to me, so special that I wanna tattooed it on my wrist... it lifts me up everytime I lookï»¿ at it :) Thank you Bono....Luv ya
Rob from Sydney, AustraliaFrancis, you are right on! "A place that has to be believed to be seen"! Love it...one of the great U2 songs.
Justina from Vilnius, LithuaniaOne of my all-time favorites. Yeah, Genius Bono.
Francois from Bloemfontein, South AfricaIsn't this what Life is all about!! Walk on. Very strong spirutial message. Jesus-(Paul) instructed us to run the race. Walk on. But the lyrics that says "you packing a suitcase for a place where none of us have been, a place that has to be believed to be seen"!!! Biblical principal. The world says "seeing is believing", Jesus Christ says believe and you shall see. Halleluja!!!!
Josh from Melbourne, AustraliaI think this is the most inspirational song of all time.
Robyn from Vic, CanadaThey played this song at my friends funeral. It was a beautiful song and meant so much to everyone. It was the perfect goodbye.
Cristiane from Sao Paulo, BrazilActually this songs means a lot to me. I haven't heard this song at any funeral, although it sounds interesting. I PLAYED THIS SONG ON MY WEDDING. IT WAS WONDERFUL BECAUSE THIS SONG MEANS TOO MUCH TO ME. cris
Robyn from Vic, CanadaThis song was played at my best friends funeral. It is a beautiful song, and has such a strong meaning for me personaly. U2 is amazing band, and just knows the hardships of the world. It's just such a beautiful song. And was a perfect way to say goodbye to a friend.
Arlington from Johannesburg, South AfricaAfter hearing the part about "Home" i started smsing my girlfriend who now is my wife, this line feels like something written especialy for me, i grew up living with relatives,and never had a home where it really felt like home, and i miss the part where i live in a proper home, this song whenever it plays i feel like something is tucking away at the furthest part of my being, "walk on" really comes from a rich place,its a place of love, hope and inspiration,
Jonatan Lindqvist from Pitea, SwedenI think this is my favourite song of all time. I really like U2s early work to, but this one has ment so much to me that i cant explain. I just wanna agree with Jen and say : Bono is a genius..No doubt about it.
Brittany from Hamilton, CanadaI love this song so much. The first time I heard it was on Friends they recaped all the episodes when the show was over, and played walk on at the end I cryed and everytime I hear this song it reminds me of Friends my favorite show ever and I cry when I hear it.
Gaby from Asuncion, ParaguayHOme... you can't know what it is if you never had one...
Rick from Humboldt, IaI think this would make a good song for a funeral. I definitely want it played at mine.
Jude from Szombathely, HungaryQuite true, Angela =D Still a wonderfully crafted and emotional song, probably my favourite on ATYCLB.
Angela from Hagerstown, MdAll i have to say about the end of the song is: Pink Floyd ROX!
Marius from LÃ¼neburg, GermanyThe end of this song is so emotional... it leaves you alone with our feelings, its great
Katie from Gasoline Alley, AustraliaI believe that Joey Ramone was listening to 'In A Little While' by U2 as he died.
Jeff from Hendersonville , UtI've heard that Joey Ramone was listening to this song as he died (or was dying). Quite an honor for U2.
Jen from Boulder, CoBono is a GENIUS. 'Nuff said..
Billy Ross from Hagerstown, Mdu2 shot another video for this song after the attacks on 9/11 in NYC. from what i remember, im pretty sure mtv played this alot after the attacks.
Chris from Lake Mary, FlWow, I had no idea that the song was about that. Pretty cool where Bono pulls his ideas from.
Nicoletta from Bronx, Nythis is such a beautiful song..i find it to better than "Beautiful Day".