U2: Pride (in The Name Of Love) Meaning
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Song Released: 1984
Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics
One man come and go
One man come here to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love!
One man in the name of love
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!
One man caught on a barbed wire...
anonymous Jan 4th, 2007 1:45am report
The song refers to many people who have sacrificed their lives in the name of love. Some of these are famous individuals; others are representative of a group or generation of people.
First verse - discusses in general how people do many things in the name of love, some good and selfless, some selfish and evil.
One man caught on a barbed wire fence - the soldiers of WWI
One man he resist - the pacifists who opposed the war
One man washed on an empty beach - I think this is Roger Casement, who was captured on Banna Strand, arrested and executed for his part in the Easter Rising
One man betrayed with a kiss - Jesus, of course
Obviously, the last verse is about MLK.
anonymous Jan 31st, 2007 1:04pm report
The greatest aspect of this song is its ambiguity. Sure, Martin Luther King and Jesus are both obvious references here, but I think the unclear lines are meant to refer to others who have died 'in the name of love'. I like the idea that 'One man washed on an empty beach' refers to a soldier at Normandy on D-Day, but that's not the only possible interpretation. In fact, most of this song's lines do not have a clear interpretation one way or another. I think it spoils the song to say that particular lines ONLY refer to specific characters throughout history.
Contrary to what I presume the popular opinion is, I do not believe the song's theme is that Martin Luther King and Jesus died because of their love for society. I think the title, 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)', refers to the 'love' that the assassins strongly felt for their beliefs. As Bono repeats the line 'One More In The Name Of Love' over and over, I can't help but think of all the great leaders who have died or all the wars that have been fought for mistaken ideologies. 'One more' refers to another great leader dying and 'In The Name Of Love' refers to the foolish reasons a person might have for wanting them dead. In many cases such as Mark David Chapman (John Lennon's assassin), the assassin does not even hate their target, they are merely in love with the act of taking another life. Bono laments such an immense loss for misguided love, but proclaims that even the act of assassination cannot diminish the leader's pride or accomplishments.
anonymous Apr 13th, 2013 4:44pm report
I always thought that the man who resisted was NLK, as he resisted violence.
I assumed that one man washed on an empty beach was Ghandi. Another leader of peaceful change. I did not know who was referred to with the barbed wire fence. I am under the impression that the man betrayed by a kiss is Jesus Christ by Judas.
anonymous Mar 2nd, 2013 3:40am report
There seems to be conflict in many of the bands lyrics in regards to the struggle of spirituality, which is what makes there songs so real,pretty sure these guys have spent a good amount of time in the bible and knowing that God IS LOVE in the name of love takes on greater dual meaning. "What more in the name of Love" Still havent found what im looking for, again believing but not quite getting to that finished place or a mature spiritual walk. tough to do. just think they do an incredible job of showing the struggle of living in this world while persuing a godly relationship and do it on secular radio.
anonymous Nov 18th, 2012 11:30am report
"One man caught on a barbed wire fence" Man killed trying to escape to West Berlin - Love of freedom
"One man he resist" Man killed trying to resist the Nazis occupation - Love of liberty
"One man washed on an empty beach" Aftermath of D-Day after troops moved inland - Done out of love of one's country
"One man betrayed with a kiss" Jesus allowing betrayal by Judas - Love of mankind
I grew up watching "World at War", so that influenced what I visually pictured for the first three.
anonymous Sep 3rd, 2012 9:32am report
I feel people shouldnt direct the song to just religion. In many cases the lyrics have nothing to do with Christ. Even If the bans is openly Cheistian it doesn't mean every song they make is a allusion to christianity.
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
Most likely has something to do with one of the world wars. There was no such thing as barbed wire in Jesus's time.
One man to overthrow
has something to do with Gandhi. As he was trying to overthrow the British rule over India.
One man washed on a empty beach.
This is my idea but I believe this refers to JFK. When JFK served in WW2 he was washed ashore onto a deserted island after a major battle in the pacific.
I have nothing against religion but when people believe everything revolves around there religion it shuns everything in the dark. In my opinion God is there to show us the path and not lead the way. He is the light at the end of tunnel and we choose to follow it. We choose our path he does not.
anonymous Jul 31st, 2012 7:46am report
I don't think most of the second verse is about Jesus, except of course for the "betrayed by a kiss" line. On the other hand, I think the first verse is. Let me explain:
Start from the lines "one man come here to justify, one man to overthrow". Now the "overthrow" line could be about anyone, but there aren't many (any?) great people who claim to "justify" others, except for Jesus.
Therefore I think the first verse is about Jesus and Barabbas. For those who don't know, Barabbas was a violent revolutionary who itself assassination as a political tool to try and overthrow the Romans - basically a first-century terrorist. He's the one who came "to overthrow".
How does this fit in with the first two lines? Well, Jesus and Barabbas were arrested around the same time, and the Roman government offered to pardon one of them. The people chose to let Barabbas go free ("one man come and go") and have Jesus killed.
Alternatively, the contrast in lines 1 and 2 could be this: Jesus came in the name of love, and his influence is still felt in the world today. Barabbas came to overthrow, but he "came and went" - he's been mostly forgotten by history.
It seems to me this song isn't all about one person. I feel like Bono is lamenting the way people respond to social change - so often, we embrace violence, like the people who set Barabbas free, and the people who embrace non-violence, like Jesus, are sacrificed instead.
anonymous Dec 29th, 2011 12:49pm report
Why not check this U2 website that talks about the lyrics.
I dont know about the war being in the song, but other interpretations say its has more than one biblical reference such as Jesus being betrayed with a kiss.
Jesus is alive and is King of my life!
anonymous Nov 17th, 2011 11:05pm report
I was reading "The Letter from the Birmingham Jail" and watched "Elizabeth Town" ( the part he visits the Lorraine Motel at the end on his way home) when I heard this song from my youth. Until I saw the scene, I never realized the depth of meaning; inspite of having loved this song for two decades. This dialogue has helped me immensely as I will lead a discussion in high school about it.
Tom Robinson is probably not the reference; after all, he's a fictious character while the others are historical, but I could be wrong.
The lines in a loose sense seem to be couplets, so could the third line "justify" be reference to Christ- he justified us- His believers.
The fourth line "overthrow" could be King, who led a peaceful, loving revolt and "overthrew" hate. Of course, Jesus did the same for the Pharisees and Sadducees, and King justified the "humanity" of Blacks and other minorities.
The beach and barbed wire fence- I don't know. I'm not really a history buff, but I would think that he is referring to some great or well known historic events that would, in a sense, parallel the recognition of the betrayed kiss and Memphis shots.
anonymous Aug 29th, 2011 8:54pm report
Its about both MLK and Jesus. A song about the love these two men had for mankind and the sacrifice they made all "in the name of love".
anonymous Jun 22nd, 2011 6:33am report
"they took your life they could not take your pride"
You must stand for what you believe in, and if you fail, if you are defeated, be still and know that you did the right thing, you did what you believed was right, and if your enemies take your life, it's fine, because even if they take your life they can never, they will, never, take your pride, they will never triumph over you...No one who is pure in their belief and who stands by those who cannot stand for themselves can ever fail...If you stand for those who cannot stand...The angels of God will support you, and those who cannot stand for themselves will, by your sacrifice be justified.
anonymous Jun 1st, 2011 6:24am report
I believe "What more in the name of love?" is a way of saying "What more could they have given?" (The answer being nothing.)
anonymous Apr 4th, 2011 4:29am report
I was reading this site to see what others felt about the song. I am deeply disturbed by the way crutchead or erinandKyla use the word obviously; if it were that obvious there would be no need to have a discussion forum.
The band wrote this song after a visit to the Chicago Peace Museum where there was an exibit on Martin. There was also an exhibit there about the bombing of Hiroshima called 'The Unforgettable Fire'. They wrote the song about MLK, and used the exhibit name as the album title.
Next point, the lyrics use so many images whose power comes from the fact that they can be applied to so many different people; to Christ, to Martin, to Matthew. to Roger, and to you and I. Each one of can and should act in the name of love, should take pride in acting in the name of love. The sad fact is that others may try to break us down, to attack us for acting out of love; it has happened to so many throughout time, and it may happen to us. That possibility of attack is the 'what more' of the chorus. Who will the next victim, the next martyr be? A powerful song with a powerful question.
anonymous Apr 1st, 2011 4:54am report
I think just guessing but is
One man to overthrow
maybe Lincoln? he did make the Proclamation thing or could it be Kennedy? he did help MLK jr with some convincing.
they were both assasinated tho so it might be that.
anonymous Mar 23rd, 2011 3:05am report
I always thought the song was about MLK mainly with references to Jesus. The line about a man washed up on a beach I thought was about The Phantoms ancestor-killed by pirates in the 16th century.
anonymous Jan 31st, 2011 1:25pm report
I agree that the "One man caught on a barbed wire fence" is talking about Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird.
anonymous Jan 17th, 2011 1:45am report
IMO, even though this incident happened after the song was written, the line "one man caught on a barbed wire fence," now conveys what happened to Matthew Shepherd.
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