U2 – The Refugee
August 3, 2020
The forty-ninth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “The Refugee” by U2 off their 1983 album War.
In 1976, drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on a school bulletin board in Ireland that would bring Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (The Edge), and Adam Clayton to his house in an effort to start a new band. While a few friends and family also showed up to play, it wasn’t long before the others dropped away, leaving a four-piece rock band that was ready to conquer the world.
U2 would release their first album, Boy, in the fall of 1980. Audiences and critics across the US and Europe took note of the band, praising the record and becoming enthralled by their passionate performances. The momentum of the band would be interrupted by a number of problems crafting their follow-up album, October, but by the end of 1982, U2 was ready to record their biggest record yet. Featuring iconic tracks — including “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” — War brought the band even more acclaim and bigger audiences. The accompanying live record and concert film from the tour, Under a Blood Red Sky, cemented their prowess as a live act.
Interestingly, “The Refugee” never made its way into U2’s live sets. The song is a powerful track that encapsulates many of U2’s common themes of finding a home and solace and the hopeful symbol of America as a promised land that seems perfectly crafted for live performance. Listeners can imagine Bono engaging the crowd during Mullen’s extended drum parts and then leading the audience into singing along with lyrics that tell of a woman yearning for freedom and peace.
Scott and Jason share their love/hate relationship with U2, particularly its lead singer, Bono. While they agree that U2 are undeniably an important band with many great tracks, they discuss the band’s inconsistent output, particularly after The Joshua Tree, and their increasingly ostentatious staging that makes it difficult to take the band and its music seriously.