"Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2 was originally written as a commentary on Ronald Reagan's pride in America's military might, then radically changed to be about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, which took place 50 years ago today (Wednesday).
However, Bono has complained that he never sufficiently developed the songs lyrics. He says he bowed to pressure from The Edge and producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanoisto leave them vague and impressionistic. In the book U2 on U2, Bono goes so far as to say that he "looked at how glorious that song was and thought: 'What [the eff] is that all about?' It's just a load of vowel sounds ganging up on a great man. It is emotionally very articulate -- if you didn't speak English."
But the song's third verse is specific, though a bit inaccurate, in capturing the time and place when Dr. King was shot. It goes, "Early morning, April four/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/Free at last, they took your life/They could not take your pride." King was actually murdered in the early evening and Bono has occasionally changed those words during live performances.
"Pride..." isn't the only song on U2's The Unforgettable Fire inspired by Dr. King. Its closing number, "MLK," is obviously another impressionistic tribute to him.
Source: Premiere and Gainesville Times