A Look Inside The Complete Lyrics Vol 1

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2024-01-12)

IMAGE: Front and Back Cover of Book

The 2023 gift from U2.com has started to show up in mailboxes. Reports yesterday from Europe saw many fans starting to appear. The gift included with the subscription price this year is a book of lyrics. It is part one of a two part set, with the second book being available with the 2024 subscription.

IMAGE: Interior of Book

The book is a hard cover book, which covers the years of 1979 – 1989. The focus is on the lyrics from that era, but offers so much more. The book is a hard cover book, in a 12-inch square size, similar to a record album. The full title is “U2 The Complete Lyrics Vol 1” and the book was created under the editorial direction of Martin Wroe. Research and interviews as well as editing was completed by Maddy Fry, Brian Draper and Cathleen Falsani. Gavin Friday is listed as creative director, and art direction and design is by Shaughn McGrath.

IMAGE: Introduction to Boy

The book walks through the releases from the 1980s, with a focus on the albums, and then at the end of the albums a section on Singles and B-Sides released during that era. The book includes the original released tracks from the 1980s, and does not include tracks on expanded releases done throughout the 2000s such as The Complete U2, deluxe editions of the albums etc. The focus here is on the material actually released in the era. Likewise, the material is all material that has been released, and is organized by those releases.

IMAGE: Singles and B-Sides for Boy

The book doesn’t just focus on the lyrics. Each album recieves an introduction. There is new material included here by members of U2, as well as collaborators such as producers like Steve Lillywhite. The book also has a new introduction by Bono, and also includes some new drawings by Bono. The book also contains photographs through the years, including what we believe are previously unseen photos. Photos also include photos of fan tattoos celebrating releases from this era, part of the U2 Tattoo Project by Beth Nabi.

IMAGE: Interior of Book

A couple of errors have snuck into the book. “Hallelujah (Here She Comes)” gets listed among The Joshua Tree tracks when it should have been in with the Rattle and Hum tracks. And although listed on the back cover, “Love Comes Tumbling” and “The Three Sunrises” don’t appear in the book. (The two were released on the EP “Wide Awake in America” and “The Unforgettable Fire” single in 1985, and it looks like they were planned for inclusion here from their listing on the back cover.) Also missing is “Boomerang II”, although this one is not listed on the back cover. The B-Side to “Pride (In the Name of Love)” does have a vocal track, but U2.com lists “No lyrics on this track.” With a second volume on the way, hopefully these missed tracks can be covered in some way at that time.

Other than those oversights, the book is very complete covering the songs released by the band in the 1980s. Outside of the albums and singles, most of the work as a band was on cover versions (“Maggie’s Farm”, “Jesus Christ”, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”) or working with others such as Robbie Robertson. It is understandable why these would not be included.

IMAGE: Interior of Book

At a time where more of us turn to digital releases, and streaming to access the music of U2, it is nice to have a compilation of the lyrics to pull out and review. It is also a beautiful way to review the releases from that era, which speaks to the discographers in us here at U2Songs. With many of our subscriptions coming due in the early months of the year, we’re hopeful we’ll get the second volume covering 1991 – 2023 soon.

IMAGE: Images from the U2 Tattoo Project

Currently you can still subscribe and receive the 2023 gift. Annual subscriptions to U2.com are $50 per year ($40 per year to renew if a current subscriber.) Details about subscription can be found here.

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Many thanks to Caroline for the photographs used throughout this piece.

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