Today, it’s easy to make fun of the world’s most self-important band, U2. It’s not that their music has really gotten bad or that Bono doesn’t do commendable work when he’s not touring. It’s just that most people still associate them primarily with the debacle surrounding the release of Songs of Innocence. Forcing a lukewarm album on people who may not even be fans of the band is never a good look.
But, in the band’s early days and before they got so openly pretentious, U2 was one of the top groups around. The Joshua Tree still stands as one of the best musical accomplishments of the previous century and With Or Without You is one of the signature songs from that album.
As is always the case with U2, it helps if you don’t know what the song was actually about. I’ve always assumed that this was meant to be a sad love song but then I did some research and I discovered that it was just Bono singing about his conflict about whether he wanted to be a touring musician or a family man. Bono can’t live without or without … himself.
It’s better not to think about that and to just bring your own interpretation to the lyrics and the song. The video is simple but it captures the feel of the song.