What is it about... Bad?

30 Oct 201265
'If you twist and turn away...'

We asked you to tell us your stories about an unforgettable U2 song - the one that matters most to you and why.

You wrote about scores of different tracks from the U2 canon but certain songs just kept coming up - again and again.

This is what you told us about 'Moment of Surrender'.

Here we've pulled more of your stories together to answer the question, 'What is it about... Bad?' And, from the archives, we've dug out the Barry Devlin directed video from The Unforgettable Fire tour back in 1984.

Not yet told us a story about your own unforgettable song ? You still can. Does '40' lift you up out of the miry clay? Does 'Please' get you up off your knees? Are you walking on because of Walk On? (You get the idea...) Tell us about that song here.


1. It prompts a visceral reaction. 'Colours crash, collide...
From what many of you have said, Bad seems to reach deep. “My reaction to Bad was visceral,” writes Hilda Canes Garduno. “Goose bumps. I wanted – no, needed – to know who this band was. The lyrics, the melody, that guitar… So began my journey as a U2 fan. I was 13 at the time; I’m now 35.”

Wideawakeinamerica’s avatar betrays their allegiance: “To this day, every time I hear Bad play, it gives me chills and reminds me of a time when I had to fight harder than I ever have before. And when I see what my life is like today, I am extremely grateful that I did.”

“I've never had a song touch me so deep, stir my soul, and make me lose myself completely,” reports Barbrocks. “There's something so hauntingly beautiful about it that makes me ache for more.” Barbrocks’ only complaint is that “in all the U2 concerts I've been to, which is around 10, I've only seen Bad performed twice. I wish they would play it more often.”

2. It was a defining moment for the band at Live Aid...
The Live Aid performance in 1985 - coming at the end of the Unforgettable Fire tour - became a defining moment in the rise and rise of U2. The band, however, felt very differently at the time.
 “We were supposed to play three songs, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Pride’, which was our hit. But then Bono went missing,” recalls Adam, in U2 by U2.  “In the middle of Bad,” remembers Larry, “he want on a wander trying to pick out some girls to dance with. It felt like he was gone forever. We were quite jittery as it was, and when Bono went missing, a certain panic ensued.”
 “I was totally thrown,” remembers Edge. “And I’m looking at Adam and Larry to see if they know what’s going on and they’re looking back at me with panic on their faces. Next thing I spot him way down below clambering over the last of the barriers to get to the people..."

The song lasted fully 12 minutes, and Paul McGuinness was watching from the wings of the stage, as the rest of the world watched on TV. “We all thought he had completely blown it,” he said.
“The band were very, very upset,” recalls Bono. “They nearly fired me.”

As it was, the world saw it differently. Bad turned out to be very, very good for U2. “It really took us by surprise when people started talking about U2 as one of the noteworthy performances of the day,” says Edge. “I thought they were joking. But... I started seeing it for what it was. It was the real sense of jeopardy, which is always very exciting for a live event, and Bono’s complete determination to make physical contact with the crowd...”
“Bono’s journey really meant something, it carried the emotion of the day to people. So his performers’s instinct was right,” concluded Adam. “Again.”

3. It aids physical recovery.
Chrisvertigo is one of those who fell in love with Bad after hearing it live at Live Aid, but “it has become extra special for me since then,” he adds. “In 1998, I had a rock-climbing fall (three days after my honeymoon) which left me in a coma for four weeks, and Bad became the song that I clung to during the next few years of recovery...”
To this day, he reports, as soon as it starts playing, “tears come to my eyes and I remember the whole journey, recovery, my wife's pain/hope/love throughout, the subsequent trials and tribulations... “I'm wide awake,” he concludes, happily enough. “I’m not sleeping...” Oh no, no, no.

4. It's a song which welcomes other lyrics and melodies.
Bad is one of those moment in the live set when Bono loves to introduce fragments (or more) of other songs. We’ve heard everything from the now-familiar lines of  staples like Walk on the Wild Side, Ruby Tuesday and Sympathy For the Devil, to shards of U2 (Elvis Presley and America, When I Look at the World, Sweetest Thing, Walk to the Water, Yahweh...) - and the unexpected: You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right (To Party), Need You Tonight, Champagne Supernova, Waltzing Matilda and - ahem - The Lion Sleeps Tonight. (A-wimoweh a-wimoweh.)
Bono usually sings these after the line “I’m not sleeping”, of course. Any ideas, however, as to where Bad itself has featured as a fragment of its own within another U2 song? The answer ? ‘All I Want is You’, a handful of times, on the POPMART tour in 1997.

5. It has great “Oooh woohs”.
So, this might seem trivial, but Conakry makes an important point. “The way Bono sings the ‘Oooh wooh part’ with so much feeling... Bad to me is their best song.”
It’s true. A band can have amazing lyrics, incredible effects, dazzling stage shows, but is it any substitute for great Oooh woohs? Think about it: Sympathy for the Devil by the Stones. Buddy Holly by Weezer. Song 2 by Blur. Bad is in good company, for sure.

In the comments below, tell us what Bad means to you.
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To me it's about overcoming setbacks and hurdles in one's life, forgiving your past and accepting it to get on with your life and be a better you because of the self awakening inside the mind of a person who has overcome anything in their way to being a better "them." At least that's how it makes me feel from the music to the words to the chorus, the emotions that it draws from my soul and my being will forever keep this song in a special place in my heart. I saw it live for the first time in Boston on July 20th, 2015, and I cried and sang and was moved just like I was so many years ago when I first heard that song and was hooked on the Band that brought so much complexity and emotion out of me with a song so beautiful and do simple. I am grateful for the time spent away from their families and lives the band takes to put the kind of effort into their work, shows,charities and fans. It must be a difficult sacrifice for them at tines, and I hope they know how much of a difference a song can make in the lives of regular people like me.
I remember the first time I heard it live at the Worcester Centrum on The Unforgettable Fire tour and it sent shivers through me. Still does.
The essence of U2
Bad is one of these songs of U2 (just like Where the streets have no name, Pride, Running to stand still, With or without you, Walk on...) which have it all. They catch the essence of U2: great compositions, subtle arrangements, strong lyrics and Bono singing them with authentic heartfelt passion. Songs which never bore, which remain outstanding wherever or whenever you hear them.
Gave me strength
I hear this song almost 25 years. You might think isn't it boring for so many years. The answer is NO. Like most people I had good times and bad times in my life. This song really gave me strength to cope with the bad times. And that's what music is all about, touching people. Thanks again for this great song.
The Song
Evey band has that one song that you recognize from the first note and eveytime you hear it, its like you are hearing it for the firs time. This is is the song that is timeless and still has as much meaning today for people as it did back in the early years. If there ever was a signature song for any band this is the one for U2.
"BAD" when U2 (Bono) singing tis song we fell that, our soul is singing!! Simple the BEST!!! thanks for thiis!! Bye the way: they didn't sing in São Paulo! "Bad Bono"....
Hooked on U2
This is the song that got me hooked on U2. The live performance during Band Aid was phenomenal. The band was playing like if THEIR lives where hanging on thread instead of the lives from the Ethiopian people. When the song is on I always try to sing-a-long. With emphasis on trying :-) Put a recording device next to me and you will hear the strangest sounds and englishlike words. The base line, The calmness of the drums that slowly comes more and more into play, the voice of Bono crying out loud and last but not least the Guitar rif. Best U2 song ever.
It's my vanity license plate
It's simply a powerful song with a message that always seems to change based on my mood and struggles. It doesn't have to be drug addiction to overcome, to me it is any problem that prevents your ability to grow and move forward. Sometimes there is no solution to the problem because its simply who you are and how you are wired. If I could I would.....
Even if you don't understand the lyrics, the song is magic. The song gives me an energy boost every day.
Being reborn is painful but hopeful
Bad was a song long forgotten until I entered therapy for addiction in 2005. HTDAB had just been released and Vertigo caught my attention as it described the way I felt in the first months of recovery - the jungle was my head...feelngs much stronger than thoughts - even though for years I thought otherwise. I started reviewing all of U2s catalog and when I rediscovered BAD, it hit a nerve. I remember sitting in my car and weeping when it's truth got a hold of me. I knew I would have surrender to a lot of painful realities and in therapy I felt like I was being torn in two. It became a mantra for me as I had to learn to "let it go" all the twisted thinking and feelings of shame that I had buried for decades. It was also a song of hope for me because I clung to the hope that I would be able to break free... that I could get through the rain, the darkness and into the light, the day. Going through coginitive behavioral change I felt beat up - blue and black - regularly. I had bloodshot eyes from the angst that came with learning to live without my vice ( worrying about the day the pain goes away - Fast Cars). Both painfully and beautifully Bad captures for me the despair and the hope I encountered in struggling throught deep personal wounds that I tried to hide through vices. BAD captures the hollow, empty feeling of living a lie - isolation, desolation, condemnation (of self) - but ends with hopeful, determined statement to be wide awake and not sleeping...ultimately, for me, to be in touch and not afraid of those feelings and to let them go...overcome them and their power. I love the angry passion in Bono's voice reaching to hit that high note when singing "I'm wide awake" and the driving high octave base line and drums....and then he and the band calms me right down to a peaceful sense that everything will be alright as the dissonant sounds resolve to Bono's lyric, "...and not sleeping." Thank you U2 for speaking truth in your lyrics and your music. It has changed me for the better. Keith
There's no other word to describe it. Bad is a song that speaks on several levels. On the one hand, the speaker could be a strong person trying to free a weaker person from their circumstances. On the other hand, the speaker could be a person in troubling circumstances attempting to break free. For me, there are two sections I find particularly powerful. The first is "This desperation, dislocation, separation, condemnation, revelation, in temptation, isolation, desolation." This line speaks a truth about my faith as a Christian. It talks about God's ability to meet us in our circumstances and reveal himself to us in the depths of whatever we are dealing with. The second section is "I'm wide awake, wide awake, I'm not sleeping." Often times we find ourselves pursuing other things for the sole purpose of escaping reality. While we may be "awake," we're essentially asleep as far as reality is concerned. This section is a declaration that we are here to live in the reality of our lives, regardless of the situations we find ourselves in. This is where I draw my strength from and this is why Bad is the song I try my best to live by.
Out of the numbness and into the light
Bad takes pain, caresses it gently, pulls it out with a scream, and sends it flying away. I don't know what it is about Bad, but I feel it in my bones and it's proof positive that music, done rightly, heals like nothing else can. Hearing that song for the first time ripped something open and let it out, and for those who heeded it - nothing's the same. Contrast it to Numb, which explores inside the bubble of denial, isolation, numbness. Now.... can you listen to one and let the other thread its way through your head, as a duet? They separate out, come together, bits pop up and subside. Bad is heart; Numb is head, and together they are revelation.
From Another Dimension
Listening to "Bad" now, 27 years later, continues to blow me away. Coming out of a decade that gave us Boy George, Twisted Sister, and Flock of Seagulls....where in the world did "Bad" come from? While everyone else was making disposable Pop, or worse, adolesent Hair Band rock, "Bad" speaks from a much, much deeper place. Looking back at that entire decade, "Bad" is the one song that stands out as something truely unique.
Bad.......not bad at all!!
Bad is my favorite U2 song since '84! I really love it. The intro, on the album the simplicity of Edge's guitar-chords and live the amazing keyboard-loop. Bono's great singing and Adam's and Larry's interpretation of their music, everything sounds as it has to be, just wonderfull!! My favorite version is still the Wide awake in America-version. Great!!
I' ve known this song since the first release on Unforgettable Fire. I am 60 now and It still brings me goosebumps and tears. The depth of it, the soul of our world never sleeps, Wide Awake. The words are too big, too deep to sing, for a body of a human being. The struggle with which Bono sings this here. A young man with such a deep heart. Great song, great performance.
Brussels and Rain
I heard Bad in Brussels, what a great night with a singing in the rain snippet!
It's simply my favourite U2 Song...
... I can cry and laugh with this song - and in fact of this - the song must played on my funeral...
Special Moment
When U2 came to Australia in 2010, my son came to their concert with me. It was the first time we had been to a concert together and we both hoped they played "BAD' and they did. It was a very special moment with my son and my favorite band.
Bad....it's just so good
My first real exposure to U2 was Live Aid and at the time I had just a passing knowledge of the band. I loved "Pride" and that was about it but I was transported that day-- at a time i was dealing with a lot of really rough family issues. After that, I wore out the Wide Awake in America tape I borrowed from a friend and just really loved that song and Bono's lyrics mixing with that cool Edge riff. Since then I've seen them in concert 7 times but only seen the song played live once. I know bands get bored playing the old stuff but the fans deserve it a little more often than that!
Electrical Storm!!!
Jezz, what is this? the bundle is so amazing, I want it, thanks U2, the previous from Electrical, New Year's and Boots are simply out of this world. Can't wait, told my husband we have to renew it as soon as possible, thanks for spoiling us!!!!!!
Bad and the success of U2
The Bad performance in live aid was the first step of a amazing jorney of U2 until today...
Bad is GOOD
These lyrics where written when U2 where young men, so much emotion & anticipation in the words - which is the point of how I get thru the good & bad. It works for me & I love this song . Keep up the good work guys, and happy birthday Larry .
A Little Respect
All U2 songs ... All are worthwhile songs. As long as one person somwhere loves a song then that song deserves respect.
Bad - a musical connection
During my childhood and teenage years in England, I used to listen to lots of different types of music. My father never seemed to like that much of the stuff that I played. However, in 1985 I was watching Live Aid with him and, when U2 came on stage, he remembered that I liked this particular band, so decided to pay more attention to them. Much to my surprise, he thought Bad was a fantastic song and he loved U2's performance. After I had left home and my parents used to visit me over the years, my father always enjoyed watching my U2 concert DVDs and was particularly keen to see them performing Bad and also Where the Streets Have No Name. Unfortunately, he died in 2004 and I always regret not going to a U2 concert with him. He would have particularly enjoyed the last tour, as not only did the band play some of his favourite U2 songs, but the shows were opened with David Bowie's Space Oddity - another one of the few songs that I used to play as a kid that my father really liked too.
The Song that changed my life.
Before i heard this song. my life was a wreck. Going to Midnight parties with drugs, (i never did them of course) i had all the wrong freinds, and i listened to hardcore rap. My cousin is a Big U2 fan, and he told me to listen to this song. I Did. and i LOVED it. I realized that my music choices were ruining my life. I decided to ONLY listen To U2, and see what would happen. That was in 2011. Im 16, living life to its fullest in the most positive way, helping others with the ONE foundation, and a HUGE U2 Addict! Thank you Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam, for changing my life.
What makes this song great? Who knows & who cares, it just is! For me it allows my mind to drift off in some strange & creative places. Something about the abstract lyric & hypnotic rhythm that opens the mind, sensational!
It's a Generational Thing For Me.......
I think all U2 fans will agree Live-Aid was the moment that the world took real notice of U2. There was talk from our parents generation about how there no good young rock bands in the tradition of the Stones and the Who at that time. I remember my Dad telling me how overwhelmed he was by Bono's performance that day and that they earned their place as a true great Rock and Roll band. This was high praise from the biggest Stones fan I"ve ever known. Plus, with Bono's disappearing in the crowd, it allowed us to appreciate what Edge, Larry and Adam bring to the band. I could listen to that instrumental for hours and never tire of it.............
Great Use of Repetition
Gotta love a song that uses the suffix -tion over and over to such effectiveness.
bedrooms and angry mums!
It reminds me of my bedroom at 16 on constant play at fll volume and me mam bangin on the kitchen ceiling! She does like the song now though lol.
Bad and Rattle and Hum
Amazing moment happens just before the phrase "If I could through myself set your spirit free..." when all 4 men are absolutely sincronized with the beat and for me comes a feeling that we are like "flying", just freaking awesome!! Greetings from Brazil!!!
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