What does Where the Streets Have No Name mean?

U2: Where the Streets Have No Name Meaning

Album cover for Where the Streets Have No Name album cover

Song Released: 1987

Where the Streets Have No Name Lyrics

I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear
Without a trace

  1. peaceriot
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    Jul 28th 2014 !⃝

    Where was the video filmed.. New York
    what city calls it's streets numbers instead of names... duh.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  2. anonymous
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    Mar 26th 2014 !⃝

    I think we need to look at both the concept of streets with no name along with the repeated phrase "blown by the wind" and one of the best most enduring ends of all songs "Oh, when I go there, I go there with you It's all I can do".

    "Streets with no name" many have already said represent the class-less gold paved streets of heaven.

    "We're beaten and blown by the wind" -- James 1:6: "But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind." Represents our nature of doubt and sin

    "Oh when I go there, I go there with you It's all I can do" seems like a clear reference to Christ. And the complete nature of his saving grace and entryway to heaven.

  3. anonymous
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    Jun 8th 2012 !⃝

    Bono's never said what's about so I think it's about 1. Haven, 2. Ireland and 3. Africa.

  4. anonymous
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    Mar 31st 2012 !⃝

    You guys are all wrong. They wrote it about Africa. "Where the streets have no name" is that the people there are so poor that they can't even afford to give their streets names or even have roads,

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  5. anonymous
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    Feb 23rd 2012 !⃝

    The song is actually about Ireland. In Ireland (and Northern Ireland), the many cities are divided: rich/poor, Catholic/Protestant, etc. By knowing which street a person lives on you can tell their religion, wealth and beliefs - it's where the streets have no name.

  6. anonymous
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    Mar 31st 2011 !⃝

    I read that in Belfast you can tell if someone is a catholic or a protestant and even how much they earn just by knowing wich street they live in. There's a quote of Bono telling this story somewhere, in reference to this song. I also think that he might be inspired by his experiences in Ethiopia. And that the poison rain also is a reference to the acid rain.
    I think that people somehow miss the fact that artist can adress more than one issue in a song. The guy is talking about a better place, and that better place is not only a place without segregation, but a place where humans live in harmony with nature. And many other things. A place where he imagines there would be freedom.

    I don't think that the song references one actual place where streets are numbered or have "no names" there's plenty of cities and towns and villages all over the world where streets haven't proper names.

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 9th 2011 !⃝

    Interesting so many possible layers of meaning previously mentioned, many of which could be correct & good example why U2 music endures..

    Not to forget the obvious literal interpretation, (as steveareno? referenced above) Joshua Tree, California, USA - where i grew up camping, climbing on my grandfathers desolate plot of land, complete with firepit, outhouse and dirt streets - where navigating was difficult because many streets didn't have signs at the time of this album & my young adulthood.

    I heard they wrote many of the lyrics at joshua tree national monument (rock climber's paradise). Go there and you might see how location undoubtedly inspired them on some level. Again probably many interpretations have deeper truths as well. Imagine only original band members know for sure. - peace

  8. anonymous
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    Jan 9th 2011 !⃝

    It may refer to the practice of confusing British soldiers occupying Northern Ireland, it definitely laments the social and class meanings of street names there and everywhere else, but its larger reference is to Heaven, where our differences will be swept aside in the direct embrace of God, "the flame", to whom he is reaching out in the first verse.

    That this is no ordinary place should be obvious - it is a place without poison, without dust clouds, where love won't "turn to rust" - in short, Paradise, which in the beliefs of the tradition in which these men were raised, they enter with Jesus, the "you" of the chorus.

    Far from being Bono's version of "Imagine", where Lennon sings hopefully for the fall of religion, it is opposite - Bono sings of God elevating us from our quarrels and self-destructiveness.

  9. anonymous
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    Jan 6th 2011 !⃝

    It's Bono's version of "Imagine."

  10. anonymous
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    Jan 6th 2011 !⃝

    According to TIME magazine, a year after iconic rocker Bono visited Nicaragua in 1986 to raise awareness about Central American war refugees, U2 released its hit album The Joshua Tree, and one song was immediately identified as inspired by his experience... Managua, Where The Streets Have No Name.

  11. anonymous
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    Nov 26th 2008 !⃝

    I think this song talks about shanty towns (propably in South Africa?). That was my first feeling about the song...However the other interpretations are interesting.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. Steveareno
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    Jul 20th 2008 !⃝

    The meaning of this song is quite obvious to those of us living north of Los Angeles. To begin, the title of the album in which the song is found is titled "Joshua Tree." This is an obvious reference to the Mojave Desert where the Joshua Tree is indigenous. In the Mojave Desert there is a valley named Antelope Valley. This valley is located "high on a desert plain," because the Antelope Valley is located in the "high desert," The high desert experiences torrid summers and freezing winters. It is a place where I can almost always "feel the sunlight on my face." because it is almost always cloud free and sunny. This God forsaken place is extremely windy and dusty and you can see a "dust cloud disappear without a trace." It is ALWAYS so windy that you would feel that "We're beaten and blown by the wind, Trampled in dust." This valley is extremely flat, and even though it is a lousy place to live the land is cheap so there is a huge amount of homebuilding always happening. So again "We're still building," fits perfectly. The flatness of course does nothing to stop the constant wind. Moreover, because of the flatness, when it does rain the water has nowhere to go and "The city's a flood," as the streets flood immediately whenever there is rain. Oh, and as to the names, or rather the lack of names of the streets, when the streets were originally laid out the streets that run east and west are named "A Street," "B Street," "C Street," and so on. Every tenth of a mile a street picks up a number like "A-3 Street." No kidding, you can look all this up on Google maps. The streets that run north and south are named by numbers, so the street names read like "45th Street East. Thus it's a place were "The Streets Have No Name." Q.E.D.

  13. Surfer_Coyote
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    Oct 11th 2007 !⃝

    This song could be interpreted as pretty open-ended in nature. It certainly is a positively charged song, but is one that could mean a lot of different things. The idea of Heaven or Paradise is a good one, but I also see it being any positive place or ideal. Reaching a happy place in life, falling in love, a feeling of bliss.

  14. joeshmo
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    Oct 10th 2007 !⃝


    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    Oct 8th 2007 !⃝

    Environment. U2 is obviously lefty (yay) and "Poison rains" refers to acid rains, "Tear down the walls" means it literally, and so does "Desert plains"

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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