“City of Blinding Lights” by U2
U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” explores the concept of gaining exposure and experience to the detriment of one’s youthful innocence.
The singer uses a lot of imagery to describe how the city of New York is filled with several lights, neon signs for advertisements and fireflies. This also signifies the level of exposure the singer has gained as a result of touring these cities.
He then renders his advice based on these experiences to his younger audience. In advising them, he tells them not to be too self-conscious that they’re unable to pursue their dreams. He explains that irrespective of the low and high moments, people should feel free to express their emotions without fear.
Aside these, the singer appears to be reminiscing on the times when he was innocent and enthusiastic about new things. He affirms that although times have changed, he has still held on to his soul.
In the book titled U2 by U2, Bono revealed that the first verse of the song was written based on a visit to London during his teenage years. He also revealed that the chorus is based on he and his band members’ famous global concert tour, the “Elevation Tour” which took them to New York.
Writing Credits and Release of “City of Blinding Lights”
Bono, The Edge, Mullen and Clayton (all U2 members) are the song’s official writers.
U2 released this track as single number 4 from their 2004 bestselling “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”. This album was the band’s 11th.
A Hit Song
In Britain as well as multiple other countries, this single was a top-10 hit for U2. Actually it was a number-2 hit there. In Spain, it shot to the number 1 position on the country’s official singles chart.
Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy and Sweden are some of the countries where this song became a major hit. In the singles charts of the aforementioned countries, it enjoyed a number of positions in the top 10.
In America, it also enjoyed some success (albeit a moderate one).
A favorite of President Obama
According to the former United States President Barack Obama, “City of Blinding Lights” is a favorite of his. As such, he used it multiple times during his presidential campaigns. Having eventually won the office of the presidency, U2 performed the song live at his inaugural celebration event in 2009.
A Grammy-Winning Song
At the 2006 Grammys, U2 took home a Grammy Award for this song. And said Grammy was in the “Best Rock Song” category. It won in this category by beating four other songs, including the following:
- Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound“
- Foo Fighters’ “Best of You”
- Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils & Dust”
- Weezer’s “Beverly Hills”
FYI: In 2005, U2 also won the aforementioned Grammy Award with their hit single “Vertigo“.