What does Bad mean?

U2: Bad Meaning

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Album cover for Bad album cover

Bad Lyrics

If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would
Let it go

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 13th 2006 !⃝

    I think when he says "if I could, I would let it go" he's talking about letting go of caring about his friend. He sends out the lifeline to him, but the friend does the drugs anyway, which makes the lifeline 'lifeless' - useless. Even though, he wishes he could walk away, he can't let go of the love he has for his friend despite the fact that the friend is an addict, and turns away from the help he is offering. On the other side, the friend can't let go of the addiction. It's almost like he's singing the song from two perspectives. The addict, and the friend.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 25th 2006 !⃝

    This song is about a guy the band knew that was pretty close with, he destroyed his life on heroin, I am not sure if it killed him or not though.

    'If I could, you know I would, let it go'

    if he could, he would get off the drugs... He couldn't

  3. anonymous
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    Apr 18th 2014 !⃝

    I know Bono has said this song is about heroin addiction, and it may well be. But, Bono has always been a master of writing lyrics that can have two meanings. I believe this song is about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion. There are many, many U2 songs about Jesus and Christian themes.

    The first two verses are about Jesus struggling with what he knew he had to go through the next day. In the Bible it mentions him praying that he wished "this cup would pass from me.". He wants to give up, to let it go, but at the end of the second verse, he realizes that if he does that then people would walk away into the "night" and "through the flame".

    In the third verse, he acknowledges that if he goes through with it, then people would have their spirits break free and they would go into the light.

    But he still struggles, and he has to keep telling himself that he is "wide awake, not sleeping". That is, he is facing what is about to happen even while his disciples sleep.

    In the middle verse, "If you should ask then maybe they'd Tell you what I would say" is about being questioned by the high priests where he wouldn't say much. Then, "Colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes" is about his torture at the hands of Roman soldiers.

    The finally, the list of words starting with "This desperation" is a terrible description of what is happening to him.

    But, the songs ends with him yelling that he is wide awake, and that he is not going to let it go.

    As a Christian, I am completely moved by this song every time I hear it.

  4. anonymous
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    Nov 10th 2013 !⃝

    Regardless of the words in a literal sense, whenever I hear "Bad"(I think the best and most powerful song of the 80's), I feel deliverance from evil. To me it's like an exorcism, or better yet a journey from darkness to the light; a release of all that's negative to feeling whole and free.

  5. ElaineU2fan
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    Oct 24th 2012 !⃝

    I was actually at U2 concert in April 1985 where prior to performing Bad, Bono mentioned the song was written for a friend of his that was addicted to narcotics. So, it is indeed a song about addiction.

  6. anonymous
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    Aug 26th 2012 !⃝

    Sometimes the true meaning can be found in the actions of others in ones life. The drugs are a good possiablity. ...But look at love that may be lost between two people. One has trouble dealing with how they may want to move on with their life. They want to leave. But the other person is so attached they will do anything to hold on. "I'd lead your heart away", love so strong, they just can't let go.

  7. anonymous
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    May 19th 2012 !⃝

    The song is specifically about free base crack! Trust me I know, I was there at the time

  8. anonymous
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    Apr 16th 2011 !⃝

    First portion is everything; it is about going against your beliefs & commitment; "thus the tearing in two" the "dislocation", "surrendering" the settings in exchange for the "I would"

    Ultimately, the song appears to be about a relationship he desires with his flawed "heart of clay" but he knows he can't have due to his commitments.

    And if "through himself, he could set her spirit free, then he would" but he can't because she desires him even more.

    He is "wide awake" in his desires for her, she ask those that surround him about the beauty she brings him, the "true colors fly in blue and black, blue silken sky" and yet the mess he is with the controversy with being with her "the burning flag, colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes". The flag being his State, colors crash (can't accept the colors she brings).

    And so, "this desperation, dislocation, separation, condemnation, revelation, in temptation, isolation, desolation"

    But ultimately, he has not selected her, and "so fade away" but he isn't at peace with this decision (not sleeping).

  9. anonymous
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    Mar 30th 2011 !⃝

    The song is from the point of view of a drug addict singing to the person who is trying to save him.

  10. magsieboy
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    Mar 15th 2010 !⃝

    It was written about a friend of Bonos from Dublin who overdosed on heroin on his 21st Birthday, its a song about addiction and Bono sis telling his friend if he could he would take it away, Probably one of U2 greatest songs and just so Passionate and Stellar when performed live.

  11. MiracleDrug
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    Nov 11th 2006 !⃝

    This song has had so many different interpretations is crazy. Some say it's about the friend on heroin, others say it's about love, and others say it's about religion. Bono had trouble in his life trying to find god and it was mentioned by him before that this song has a deep religious meaning. But now that I think about it, maybe it has to do with his friend on herion is having trouble with this addiction and perhaps bono is trying to tell him that maybe he should seek something more powerful than drugs, like god. I dunno...

  12. anonymous
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    Nov 13th 2005 !⃝

    I think his heart is breaking for someone close to him suffering through a drug addiction. He's begging them to "surrender", "let it go". If he could, he would do it for him, but he can't.

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