U2 and Prince – Their Crossover Connections

Which U2 song sounds the most like Prince? That’s hard to say, because Prince had so many “sounds” that it would be almost impossible to pin him down to a single musical style. Who else does that remind you of? Yep!

That’s just one of the many crossovers we can find when comparing U2 with Prince. Think about these other similarities:

  • God is in their lyrics in the most beautiful, unexpected ways – and their lives have been marked by spiritual evolutions that were parallel to the evolutions of their careers.
  • Sexual metaphors are abundant in their songs – although  with Prince, they were…well, a lot less subtle than U2 makes theirs. While Bono might use the word “sound” as a sub for the word “sex,” Prince always made it very clear what he was talking about. If there were Prince lyrics that talked about “feeling nothing the first time,” no one would need to ask what “first” he was referring to – right?
  • They aren’t afraid to collaborate – with anyone, ever. Prince recorded with and produced countless artists, as we all know – and U2 collaborates with people by performing with them, by acknowledging them when in their home city (a perfect example is this Streets into Purple Rain snippet in Minneapolis), and of course, through their side projects and activism. And yes, U2 did collaborate with Prince once that we know of: this aftershow performance of Bono singing The Cross with Prince on guitar when Prince came to Dublin in 1995. No video, unfortunately – but there’s yet another U2 and Prince connection!
  • Hauntingly beautiful falsetto capabilities (Prince and Bono)
  • Undeniable musical genius (Prince and The Edge)

And of course, they all love women.

Prince and U2 weren’t necessarily associated acts, but they certainly had some important things in common. Take a look at U2’s Prince tributes in the photo above (I loved the Black Album tweet that came first, but then when Bono posted the lyrics to The Cross…wow!).

To answer the question I asked at the beginning – which U2 song sounds the most like Prince – I might say “Moment of Surrender.” Here’s a huge chunk of MOS lyrics that (I think) could easily be found in a Prince song:

I tied myself with wire

To let the horses run free

Playing with the fire

Until the fire played with me


The stone was semi-precious

We were barely conscious

Two souls too cool to be

In the realm of certainty

Even on our wedding day


We set ourselves on fire

Oh God, do not deny her

It’s not if I believe in love

But if love believes in me

Oh, believe in me


At the moment of surrender

I folded to my knees

I did not notice the passers-by

And they did not notice me


I’ve been in every black hole

At the altar of the dark star

My body’s now a begging bowl

That’s begging to get back, begging to get back

To my heart

To the rhythm of my soul

To the rhythm of my unconsciousness

To the rhythm that yearns

To be released from control

Some U2 friends online have brought up the fear that Bono, Edge, Adam or Larry might live a life cut short too. Who can blame them, after we’ve seen so many of the artists we grew up with taken from us with no warning over the past few years: MJ, Bowie and now Prince. Everyone wants to speculate who’s next…it’s hard not to. On top of that, Bono has had so many grave injuries and brushes with death over the past few years that it’s impossible to ignore his mortality. If there’s any comfort in this, it’s that death levels the playing field. This week reminded us that the mysterious, larger-than-life and otherworldly Prince was simply human after all; so are all four members of U2. Prince now has his sort of homecoming, and eventually everyone in U2 will also – just like each one of us.

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U2 history seeker in the radical center. The air is so anxious; all my thoughts are so reckless. Contact via Twitter at @U2RadioBrook.

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