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U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song Paperback – September 15, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Niall Stokes is the founder and Editor of Hot Press, Ireland's bible of rock ’n’ roll and current affairs. He has also edited two best-selling books on U2, The U2 File and U2: Three Chords And The Truth. A musician and songwriter, his band The Brothers were responsible for the highly acclaimed album Torch. A regular contributor to radio and television in Ireland and abroad, in 1993 he was appointed Chairperson of the Independent Radio and Television Commission, the semi-state regulatory body for independent broadcasting in Ireland. He wears the No. 10 shirt and plays in central midfield for Hot Press Munchengladbach 1891 in Dublin’s Amateur Union League.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 3rd edition (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560257652
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560257653
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kyle Goldstein on June 15, 2010
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
U2: The Stories Behind the Song is a good book for anyone wanting to know more about U2. The book is very reasonably-priced, mainly due to its small size, compared to older editions. However, this is the fourth edition of the book, and compared to the previous edition, it is quite lacking. For starters, a lot of information from the previous edition is missing. Almost every song from Boy up to No Line on the Horizon is explained in detail, but a lot of the entries for older songs have been shortened, with less information that was previously available. I compared the two books side-by-side and noticed that some song entries had as much as entire paragraphs removed. Second, the layout is much less appealing. The previous edition was very colorful and full of photographs, while this edition is simply black text on white pages, with small photographs on some pages, and other pages entirely full of text. Third, there is not much new information in this edition that was not in the previous one. The only new information that was not available in the previous edition was information on the 11 songs from No Line on the Horizon, but each song is only explained for anywhere from one paragraph to one page. Entries for older songs take up anywhere from one to three pages.

As far as additional content goes, there is a section that covers B-sides, non-album songs, the Passengers album, and
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First Negatives, then positives:

1. Not all of the songs have interpretations of the lyrics. Most, but not all. The stories told in each song's profile follow no formula or criteria - some cover lyrics, some music, some production, some inspiration, etc. Those stories are great and I like their inclusion, but I much prefer that every song had a lyrical explanation.

2. The author at times seems to marginalize the amount of Christian reference in U2's music. It just doesn't come up in proportion to how big it has been throughout U2's history.

3. Where is "Holy Joe" ? Other B-Sides are covered!

4. At times it's difficult to determine which points are the author's speculation and which are his conveyances of U2's thoughts and ideas. He admits in the introduction that some editorial speculation and interpretation - but I'd like some clarity about which is which, because I'm more interested in what U2 has to say than reading Stoke's brainstorming about his take.

As for the positives:

1. The book is very comprehensive (except for Holy Joe!) and very well organized - chronologically by album with a section in the back covering B-Sides, and other stuff not on albums. It gives a 2 or 3 page 'profile' on each song with several nice color pictures.

2. Despite my crticism above about not offering a lyric interpretation or explanation of every song, Stokes did a great job of finding some very interestings stories on other aspects of how songs came together.

3. And the last thing is that there don't seem to be any, or at least not many other books like this out there. I know there are others on this topic (covering U2 song by song) but the ones I've seen don't do as good of a job.
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Format: Paperback
"Into the Heart" takes equal turns being thick-headed and cheesy. It purports to be "the stories" behind the songs but it regularly is nothing of the kind. Instead it focuses at great length on how the songs were mixed-something probably interesting to somebody but not me. His greatest weakness is that Stokes seems to have no concept of the spiritual dimension of the band-a fact that strikes most critics as crucial to understanding U2's music. Though he has clearly interviewed Bono, the quotes that the author uses often seem ripped from their likely context to support whatever Stokes already believes about the songs. The photo captions are howlingly hideous-the type of joke your three year old would tell and you only laugh because you love. I love my three year old. I hate this book. Save your hard-earned cash. Shoot, save the cash you find in the cushions of your sofa!
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Format: Paperback
If you're after a book that will tell you exactly what each song on every U2 album was written about, this isn't it and it isn't supposed to be. In fact there isn't any book that can tell you exactly what each song is about because there are a number of U2 songs where the lyrics are highly personal to Bono and even he won't disclose the full meaning of them.

If, however, you are looking for a book that gives information on how certain songs came together with some lesser known facts thrown in and, in some cases, the meaning of the lyrics then this book will make interesting reading.

The main bulk of the book covers all the songs on every U2 studio Album from Boy to How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (including Rattle & Hum) and briefly touches on B-Sides, Passengers, Edge's Captive soundtrack, The Million Dollar Hotel Project and a number of other 'side projects' undertaken by band members over the years. Interesting comments from producers, people who worked with the band and of course all the band members themselves, gives quite a facinating insight at times to how certain songs came about.

Niall Stokes has known U2 ever since they were a young up and coming Dublin band and has therefore been lucky enough to get plenty of access to the band over a 25+ year period and he's not done a bad job. The title is as it suggests, 'Stories Behind Every U2 Song' and not 'What The Lyrics To Every U2 Song Are About.' If you're a big U2 fan like me, some of the pictures and some of the stories are already familiar but there is enough in here that I didn't know that kept me from putting the book down and so it gets a 4 star review.
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