Meaning of “New Year’s Day” by U2

“New Year’s Day” by the Irish band U2 is primarily a song referencing Polish Solidarity. However, there is also an element of love mixed therein. As such, two of the primary themes of the lyrics are undying affection and political revolution. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for U2's New Year’s Day at Lyrics.org.

According to this song, there are tumultuous, world-changing events occurring on the outside. Yet despite all of this, the singer sees it as just another day in terms of his desire to be with the person he is singing to. In fact, although he cannot say definitely when, he is supremely confident that he will ultimately reunite with the object of his affection.

Lyrics of "New Year's Day" by U2

Facts about “New Year’s Day”

  • “New Year’s Day” was released as the lead single of off U2’s album War. That album was released in 1983.
  • The music video for this track was filmed in Sweden in 1982 and was one of the first videos featured prominently on MTV.
  • The members of U2 suffered in freezing temperatures while filming the music video.
  • New Year’s Day” charted in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, United States, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland.
  • Despite the fact this song is about Polish Solidarity, many people rather associate it with the holiday it is named after. As such, it is regularly played at bars during New Year’s celebrations.
  • The producer of this track is Steve Lillywhite.
  • Bono wrote this song shortly after getting married to his wife, Ali, which led some to assert that it was initially penned as a tribute to that relationship.
  • This song was not only U2’s first UK hit – where it reached number 10 on their charts – but also their first international hit as well. For instance, it was their first single to chart in the United States. It peaked at number 53 on the US-based Billboard Hot 100.
  • This track has made Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
  • Bono was having such an emotional time writing the lyrics of this song that it almost didn’t make the “War” album.

Did the members of U2 actually ride horses in the music video of “New Year’s Day”?

The scene of four people riding horse in the song’s official music video was not the members of U2. So who were they then? They were four girls from Sweden who were disguised as members of the band. It is for this reason you never see the faces of the horse riders. Two things accounted for the band not riding the horses. Firstly, they didn’t know how to ride horses. Secondly, they were reeling from the extremely severe cold of Sweden.

The original music video of “New Year’s Day” by U2.

What was the release date of “New Year’s Day”?

It was officially released in January 1983.

Are there any cover versions of “New Year’s Day”?

Yes, there are. Since the song’s release in 1983, a lot of artists have released remixes and cover versions of it. One of the most notable versions of them was the 2001 remix by Musique. The remix was so popular it peaked at number 15 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1999, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra released a cover of this song.

The following artists have also released cover versions of this song: Ferry Corsten, Zeraphine, Aslan, Inverse Phase and Steve Morse (along with Billy Sherwood)

Did American singer Taylor Swift release a cover of this song?

In 2017, Swift released a song also titled “New Year’s Day”. That song has nothing to do with U2’s 1983 classic.


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