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U2 songs that refer to real people
Here's a few songs where Bono was named checked real people in his song lyrics. There's also a few songs where the lyrics a talking about a real person but they are not directly named.
A song about singer Billie Holiday, Bono was trying to throw the kitchen sink at this song, referencing all kinds of musical figures including John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
One Tree Hill
Bono name dropped Victor Jara in this song that is really popular in NZ for some reason.....
"And in our world a heart of darknessA firezone where poets speak their hearts
Then bleed for it Jara sang his song a weapon
In the hands of love
You know his blood still cries from the ground"
This verse is referring to how Victor Jara was executed for his political disssent and thus became a symbol of the struggle for human rights.
Elvis Ate America
This is possibly the U2 lyric that refers to the most people Lisa Marie Presley Chuck D, Johnny Cash all feature with shout outs to Hitler, Nixon, Christ, Mishima, Markus and Micheal Jackson. Bono would later refer to Jackson in Pop's The Playboy Mansion as well.
God Part II
This song was intended as a sequel to John Lennon's song called God. Lennon's song refers to things he didn't believe in such as war and The Beatles - Bono's version also refers to things that he also doesn't believe in but also goes on to refer to how angry he was at the author Albert Goldman who wrote an unflattering biography of Lennon (and also a controversial biography of Elvis, and given U2's love of Elvis, I'm not surprised Bono made the reference).
"For the Reverend Martin Luther King, sing". Pride was inspired the the civil rights activist - that particular line comes from the live version of Pride on Rattle and Hum.
Stand Up Comedy
References the famous French soldier Napoleon and his wife Josephine...
Peace on Earth
Inspired by the Real IRA Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland on 15 August 1998. The song lists the names of people killed in the bombing. Similarly, inspiration for the lyric, "She never got to say goodbye / To see the colour in his eye / Now he's in the dirt" comes from the funeral of Barker, another victim of the bombing. Other bomb victims named were Sean, Julia, Gareth, Anne, and Brenda.
Whilst not directly referenced but the liner notes of Zooropa showed the song was dedicated to Charles Bukowski.
Who have I missed?