U2 – Songs of Experience: #504 of best 1,000 albums ever!

U2 - Songs of Experience

So why is U2’s Songs of Experience on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

As surprised and delighted as I was with U2’s Songs of Innocence (#541 of best 1,000 albums ever) when it came out in 2014*, I’ve become ever so slightly more impressed with its companion album of sorts, Songs of Experience, over the years.   

* For free (on iTunes)! Which people complained about! 2014 surely must be considered the Before Times, right?

There’s simply no band on the planet that can make music feel as “big” and “important” as U2, even when the actual sound is relatively restrained. “Lights of Home” is a great example of this, and I could even argue that the restraint and precision with which it – and the album at large – is produced works entirely in its favor.

And here’s an absolutely magnificent live performance of “Lights of Home” from U2 at the BBC, replete with backing from an entire orchestra.

This is probably a good time to note that for a band that formed way back in the mid-1970s, they still sound as fresh and energized and engaged as ever. And Bono’s voice is as good as its ever been. Quite remarkable.

“You’re the Best Thing About Me” is vintage 21st Century U2 – a perfect blend of rock and pop – and could have slotted in seamlessly on All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

“Red Flag Day” introduces U2 at their most funky and swinging, which segues nicely into a wonderful chorus that’s pure pop intended to thrill packed arenas worldwide.

Also see:

Pop culture stuff that has something to do with U2’s Songs of Experience

In thinking about U2’s “big” and “important” sound, it obviously doesn’t just happen by itself. And I’m immediately reminded of the fantastic music documentary, It Might Get Loud, which focuses on the very different and very extraordinary musical philosophies and experiences of three famous guitarists: Jack White, Jimmy Page, and The Edge.

The entire doc is a must watch if you’re a music fan who is even remotely interested in the likes of The White Stripes et al, Led Zeppelin, or U2. Specific to The Edge, there are fascinating scenes that show how a song like the up-tempo rocker, “Elevation,” begins with a dead simple two notes.

We then see The Edge in his “lab,” so to speak, bringing those two notes to life via his soundboard and guitar-related gizmos to give that song its iconic sound that is simply bigger – for lack of a better word to describe – sounding than most songs you’ll ever hear.

Some stats & info about U2 – Songs of Experience

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Pop Music, Contemporary Rock, Album Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 2.5 out of 5 stars (!)
  • When was Songs of Experience released? 2017
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #504 out of 1,000

U2’s Songs of Experience on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from U2’s Songs of Experience that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Nothing to stop this being the best day ever, nothing to keep us from where we should be. I wanted the world but you knew better, and that all we have is immortality.

What’s something interesting about U2’s Songs of Experience that most people don’t know?

“Love Is All We Have Left,” features a sample of a poem called “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou, which was originally written for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. The poem speaks to the idea of love as a unifying force for humanity, and its inclusion on the album emphasizes U2’s commitment to social and political issues.

Also, Songs of Experience’s artwork features a photograph of Bono’s son, Eli Hewson, holding hands with The Edge’s daughter, Sian Evans, symbolizing the album’s themes of intergenerational connections and passing on knowledge and experience.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.