View Full Version : " The Fly"

12-17-02, 06:37 AM
The Persian Gulf War was the first of its kind, in that no other war had even close to the same media coverage, including the affects on the lyrics of popular music and in particular the band U2. The United States of America and the rest of the world watched the war literally happen before their eyes. Newspapers, radios, and televisions had almost immediate transmission of what was happening. Never before were the actual launching and eruptions of bombs broadcast with such quantity and quality for all to see. The revolution of technology was in effect.

The above mentioned indicated three significant issues which relate the Gulf War and the media as an important part of history. One, technology has really advanced over recent time. Two, when the world watched the war from their living rooms, there had to be a different kind of emotional effect then was ever possible before. And three, all media gatherers have either become "braver" to "get a good story" or there are really no means at which they will stop reporting.

Technology and good leadership allowed this war to be short and simple, but it could have been much worse. Who is to say that the world will not be blown up someday via advance technology. It was a phenomenon to see what war really looked like first hand, especially for those who will never be on the front lines or involved in any plans or documentaries on war.

Seeing a war right before your eyes has to bare some emotional effect. After all, there have been cases where soldiers come back from wars changed and unable to readjust in society from all that they have experienced. The nation, in part due to the Gulf War itself and in part due to the image and vision of the war being played before them on television monitor in their homes, were deeply affected. In fact, some of us were even too young to realize that this was a technological advancement and not a "norm." As America and the world watched the war, progress was made, good and bad.

The live reporters during this time found themselves in the middle of a war, the Gulf War. When there was a story, they were all too happy to be the first to cover it. Reporters enjoy the risk of danger, but should also receive respect for it. The media has gained a vast audience with many varied opinions over the years. There was even a select audience that "fell in love" with a specific male reporter and excitedly tuned into war coverage from him (Peter Arnett-CNN). Media coverage is important and almost necessary, in that coverage on specific events keeps the world informed. However, sometimes this coverage can be taken to an excessive level and it disappoints and frustrates instead of informs.

The Gulf war affected the hearts of many Americans and caused them to reach out for the cause. A great campaign to support the American troops was launched. After only a short time, yellow ribbons were tied everywhere, prayers always mentioned the conflict, and songs were written and influenced by the war. In fact, many popular songs were written and influenced by the war. In fact, many popular bands wrote lyrics that were either indirectly or directly war influenced. Nations joined in support of their troops returning home safely.

Popular music, and in particular the band U2, was affected by the gulf war and some of their lyrics indicate a sense of coping. U2 is a popular musically band, originally from Ireland. As most bands do, they went through different phases of style. In November 1991, when Achtung Baby was released, they portrayed a new image, which was more intellectual and technologically-driven than some of their other albums such as The Joshua Tree, and Rattle and Hum, which were direct, heartfelt and emotional (Stokes, 1996). The Zoo TV tour that followed the release of Achtung Baby began on February 29, 1992 at the Lakeland Arena in Florida. This tour not only marked the new style for U2 , but was extremely media- influenced, and technologically-driven. After The Joshua Tree made U2 successful, the media decided to run with it. U2 decided that they needed a new image in order to cover themselves from the public and give them something to think about. The Zoo TV tour used the media to their advantage with many huge screens, televisions, and elaborate costumes. They wanted their tour to reflect what was going on in the media and elaborated on that.

U2 needed a way to capture the audience’s attention and incorporate some part of their themes when operating their concerts. After a short period of searching, they found just what they were looking for. A film of former president Bush was edited so that the president appears to be chanting the lyrics to Queens’s "We Will Rock You" while pounding on his podium. Bush was considered to be a strong individual, especially in the political situation at the time. The United States elections were coming in 1992 and he handled the Iraq situation with power, which in turn led to the Gulf War. U2 was proud to open their concerts with this new and unique representation of the United States.

Achtung Baby and their next album Zooropa, released in July of 1993, both maintained a similar style. Some of the lyrics on both of these albums are associated with a war theme. In March of 1983, they did release an album called War, but Achtung Baby and Zooropa had a more subtle style. Of course, their changed image is much less direct and more elusive. Also included in the more recent albums are the impact of society and the media.

Bono, the lead singer of U2, wrote most of the bands lyrics. It has been said that in his music, you can hear the emotion in the relationship with his wife and disintegration of his marriage. He writes these lyrics, drawing from what he feels inside, his personal views. When the Gulf War began, he felt a need to write about how that influenced him. In turn, the war was represented, not only in lyrics of some of the songs, but in the Zoo TV tour. When Bono was interviewed by Bill Flanagan (1995), Zoo TV and the reflection of the multimedia on the Gulf War was discussed. Bono best explained his response with the analogy of the way Picasso represents war in "Guernica," with distorted screaming horses and cubist knives to the way Zoo TV represents the Gulf War with media’s portrayal of cruise missiles and nuclear bombs, rapid parts of TV commercials and rock and roll singers in leather suits. In a sense, the Gulf War seems glamorized, but this might have been the purpose, in order to emphasize what the media has done. However one interprets war, there was definite influence stemming from the media and the Gulf War.

The song, " The Fly" bares the most influence from all U2’s songs from the war. It is off the album Achtung Baby, which in turn means that it is going to have a different style than past U2 music. The song can be interpreted in many ways, considering it has a wide range of emotion. Throughout the song all feelings are represented of the way one feels when they are caught up in a mixed world. Powerful illusions of disillusionment, struggle, and the need to change what already exists echoes through the song. The last verse sums up the over all feeling of the song,


12-17-02, 06:38 AM
It’s no secret that the stars are falling from the sky

The universe exploding ‘cosa one man’s lie

Look I gotta go

Yeah I’m running outta change

There’s a lot of things

If I could I’d rearrange

Before "The Fly" was written, Bono grappled with the effects of success and what his perspective of the world was. He felt as though the crazy world was watching and waiting for what he wrote. He felt torn between his personal feelings, yet the world was judging him by the money the band made to the output of sincerity and charity they gave themselves. Finally he started to write about hypocrisy, letting himself become one with is music and write with more feeling. (Flanagan, 1995)

Bono understood that he could not write directly about the war, for it was a very delicate topic, and would need a subtle overtone. Bono stated, " I realized I couldn’t write songs about it……that we could talk so coldly about flesh being burned off people bodies….I had to find a different way of saying the same thing…" (Internet) In the song "Acrobat" this was illustrated as he describes how someone must "bend over backwards" to understand the confusion of the world they live in. The first verse demonstrates the style,

Don’t believe what you hear

Don’t believe what you see

If you just close your eyes

You can feel the enemy

Inundated with the audio and visual stimuli of modern society, they chose to ignore all of the messages the media is forcing upon them, and call upon the listener to close their eyes and use their feelings. The song continues,

No nothing makes sense

Nothing seems to fit

I know you’d hit out

If you only knew who hit

The extreme chaos he is submerged in brings about confusion and frustration. It is difficult to understand what is happening with a war brought directly before him. He wants the listeners to believe in something and continues to emphasize finding a way to cope and believe, but he does not know what to believe in. The media has left Bono so confused that he questions even the most fundamental of faiths, his religion. In a cry from relief from the disillusion of the media-driven world, he admits that he needs to believe in something now more than ever. Perhaps the artificial images the media portrays of actual events give him nothing to put faith in.

The author, towards the end of the song, conveys the point of near hopelessness.

What are we going to do now its all been said?

No new ideas in the house, and every book has been read

The media has brought the world to its limits. With graphic images of war broadcast directly into their homes, "it’s all been said." Still, the author ends the song with a sense of survival. Begging the listener to carry on with an inspirational mantra: "…don’t let the bastards grind you down."

Perhaps the most telling line in the whole Achtung Baby album is from the song "Until the End of the World." In this song, the author states "you miss too much of these days if you stop to think."

It seems as if he is commenting on the pace of the modern-media-driven society. The speed of information that was given, was faster than the speed of human thought. In order to remain constantly informed of what is happening in the world, specifically the gulf war, one cannot take the time to think. This, independent thought is sacrificed for constant knowledge of world events.

Despite the fact that U2’s album Achtung Baby was made in Berlin and the band was going through personal emotional circumstances, the songs can be connected to the political influences at the time to the rest of the world. War is a horrifying experience for everyone, and bares an extremely emotional effect. It draws a sense of bond between people and in turn, some become influenced. U2 is able to capture and embrace many emotions with its music and therefore able to console or be a part of its listeners. Their songs are generally able to connect people, all people.

Other bands also wrote songs that were influenced by the war, such as "Give Peace a Chance," which was remade by Yoko Ono. Tony Orlando also remade "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree," which was originally made for WWII.

There is no doubt that when there is a war, many people are affected by it. Popular bands and I particular U2, used a universal form of communication, music, in order to display the feelings of many. The media can be used to benefit the world, but can also be taken advantage of by reporters. What needs to be looked at are the various sacrifices made for money, reputation, and delivery. Everyone is entering a new world of technology, which in turn means development as well as proceeding with caution. As the development of music and pop culture shaped cultural views, U2 expressed a subtle yet demanding style through the history of media when interpreting this world situation.



04-27-05, 12:35 PM