Meaning of Where the Streets Have No Name by U2 & Lyrics

U2’s fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, opens with “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Where do you think Bono, the lyricist of the song, is hinting at with this phrase? In fact, he has repeatedly talked about the history of the composition and his sources of inspiration, so we do not need to make assumptions.

The following excerpts from an interview with the U2 frontman will help you sort things out.

“Where the Streets Have No Name” is more of an old U2 than any other song on the record because it’s sketchy. I was trying to sketch out a description of a situation, perhaps spiritual, perhaps romantic. I tried to describe the feeling. In a big city, I often experience an attack of claustrophobia, a desire to escape from the city and a desire to go somewhere where you are not shackled by the values ​​of the city and the values ​​of our society.

Someone once told me an interesting story about how in Belfast, where a person lives, one can judge not only his religion, but also how much he earns. Literally by which side of the street he lives on, because the farther up the hill, the more expensive the houses. I thought about it and started writing about a place where the streets don’t have names.

Propaganda 5, 1987

In 1985, Bono and his wife visited Ethiopia as part of a humanitarian mission. There, the musician learned that local streets are rarely given names, assigning them serial numbers.

He remembered a story he’d heard about Belfast before and had the idea for the future “Where the Streets Have No Name”. He made the first drafts of the text of the future composition on a paper bag. Bono recalled:

The guy in the song is aware of the contrast and thinks of a world where there is no such separation, a place where the streets have no names. In my understanding, this is how a great rock concert should be: a place where everyone comes together … Perhaps this is the single dream of all art: to demolish barriers and differences between people in order to touch on what is really important for most of us.

Chicago Sun-Times, 1987

Later, the musician was asked more than once if he had any particular place in mind. He once answered a question with the following words:

Actually, I’m not sure about it. I tend to think it’s Belfast.

2CRFM, 2000

Studio work on the composition progressed with great difficulty. Producer Brian Eno recalled that the recording of the track took almost half of the total time spent on the album. When the song was almost ready, Eno removed the track entirely. According to the widespread version, he did it by accident, although Brian himself claimed that he intentionally erased it, as he was dissatisfied with the result, but saw no other way to get the band members to start working again.

Bono explained the decision to make the song the first track on the album:

“The Streets Have No Name” was the perfect introduction. It was one of those great ideas that only The Doors’ “Break on Through (To the Other Side”) can match in terms of audience appeal. Do you want to go there? If yes, I am ready to go with you to that place. Call it what you want – let it be an imaginary place where there are no restrictions.

Although the composition opens the record “The Joshua Tree”, it was released only as the third single from the album. It peaked at number four on the UK chart and peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100.

Subsequently, “Where the Streets Have No Name” was included in various lists of the best musical compositions, including “100 Greatest Guitar Songs” by Rolling Stone readers, “1001 Best Songs” by Q and other authoritative ratings.

The video for “Where the Streets Have No Name” was filmed on the rooftop of the Republic Liquor Store in Los Angeles. The video was awarded a Grammy in 1989.

Interesting Facts

  • Many well-known sports clubs start home matches with this song.

Lyrics Where the Streets Have No Name by U2

I want to run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside.
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name
I want to break down the walls
that keep me inside
I want to get out
And touch the flame there
Where the streets don’t have names I wanna feel sunlight on my face.
I see the dust-cloud
Disappear without a trace.
I wanna take shelter
From the poison rain
Where the streets have no name x3
I see a cloud of dust
Disappears without a trace
I want to take cover
From the poisonous rain there
Where the streets don’t have names x3 We’re still building and burning down love
Burning down love.
And when I go there
I go there with you
(It’s all I can do)
Burn down love
And when I go there
I will go with you
(That’s all I can.) The city’s a flood, and our love turns to rust.
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust.
I’ll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name x3
We are tormented by a strong wind,
We wallow in road dust
I’ll show you the place
High on the desert plain
Where the streets have no names x3

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