Author Topic: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question  (Read 3864 times)

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Offline Vox

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"Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« on: January 30, 2015, 09:24:54 AM »
Just wondering if anyone can explain something for me.  I remember having a few bootlegs on cassettes back in the late 80’s where Bono would introduce “Bad” by saying something like “this is a song about a good friend of ours who on his 21st birthday was given enough heroin to kill him… this is a song called ‘Bad,’” or something like that.  And I also seem to remember reading somewhere (a few times) that the song was about “survivor’s guilt” or how people deal with the death of a loved one from drugs.

Anywho – when reading the notes for Songs of Innocence, Bono mentions that “Raised By Wolves” is also written about the same person (Andy Rowen) and the bombing described in this song, it is inferred, is what turns him onto heroin. 

Through the years in concert, Bono has described “Bad” as being about Andy Rowen specifically (who was alive and well enough to have the song dedicated to him at a U2 show in Pittsburgh in 2011, by the way)…..  To Bono at his most 80’s-Bonoesque talkin’ about the rich getting’ richer and the poor with needles hangin’ from their arms and all the sufferin’ in the world…  To specifically mentioning someone named Gareth Spaulding who died of a heroin overdose. 

So is Bono continually making stuff up?  Protecting the innocent?  Too drunk to remember?  What do you think?  This kind of thing has always bothered me about U2 – sometimes it seems they mythologize themselves and rewrite their own past.  And for no good reason, really. 



Offline xy

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2015, 09:49:19 AM »
*shrug* Maybe it's about both of them and they both blend into the inspiration for the song.

Offline Chip

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 12:27:14 AM »
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the original post, but I don't see any conflict. I think it's clear that Rowan inspired both songs, and the other statements about "Bad" are just additional applications of the song. So "Bad" was written about, or minimally inspired by, the problems of their real-life friend. Later, Bono sees it as as applying to societal trends. At another time, a guy named Gareth Spaulding dies of an overdose and Bono sees the song's sentiments as applying to him. This isn't changing stories about the song's origin; it's just applying the lyrics to later contemporary concerns/events.

For another example, think about "Bullet." It was written about U.S. involvement in Central America, but later was applied to neo-Nazism (Zoo TV tour), Irish immigration to America (POPMart), gun control in America (American leg of Elevation tour), et al. The song's original meaning has never been in dispute, but its application to current trends has evolved.

meximofo

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 09:19:27 AM »
You hit the nail on the head, Chip.  ;)

Offline Johnny Feathers

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 10:37:56 AM »
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the original post, but I don't see any conflict. I think it's clear that Rowan inspired both songs, and the other statements about "Bad" are just additional applications of the song. So "Bad" was written about, or minimally inspired by, the problems of their real-life friend. Later, Bono sees it as as applying to societal trends. At another time, a guy named Gareth Spaulding dies of an overdose and Bono sees the song's sentiments as applying to him. This isn't changing stories about the song's origin; it's just applying the lyrics to later contemporary concerns/events.

For another example, think about "Bullet." It was written about U.S. involvement in Central America, but later was applied to neo-Nazism (Zoo TV tour), Irish immigration to America (POPMart), gun control in America (American leg of Elevation tour), et al. The song's original meaning has never been in dispute, but its application to current trends has evolved.

I'm just curious about the highlighted part.  My impression was that it was about immigration from Latin America to the US--hence the original segue from BtBS to Miami, Bono's "Fidel" hat/wardrobe during the song, and the inclusion of a snippet of "America" from West Side Story.

Offline Vox

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 12:08:15 PM »
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For another example, think about "Bullet." It was written about U.S. involvement in Central America, but later was applied to neo-Nazism (Zoo TV tour), Irish immigration to America (POPMart), gun control in America (American leg of Elevation tour), et al. The song's original meaning has never been in dispute, but its application to current trends has evolved.

Sure.  But to me the difference here is that when Bono has talked about the writing and recording of "Bullet the Blue Sky" (from The Joshua Tree) it's ALWAYS been about American intervention in Central America, specifically, El Salvador.  Sure, it's come to represent different things on each tour, but I've never heard Bono say "Bullet the Blue Sky" is written about anything other than what he witnessed when he was in El Salvador.

i.e.:  In 1991 he never told the crowd or an interviewer "BTBS is a song we wrote about oppressive religion." Or in 2001 he never told the crowd, "BTBS is a song we wrote about the dangers of guns."  Or in 2005 he never told the crowd, "BTBS is a song about the conflict of major religions." 

Offline SlyDanner

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 04:41:47 PM »
Vox, even according to your own post, Bono never said he wrote the song for anyone other than Andy Rowen.  Just because he mentioned someone else to whom the song may be relevant does not get you to the conclusion that Bono is changing the song's history or original inspiration.  I'm not following your logic here.  Below is what you wrote.  Where does he claim he wrote it for anyone other than Andy Rowen?

Through the years in concert, Bono has described “Bad” as being about Andy Rowen specifically (who was alive and well enough to have the song dedicated to him at a U2 show in Pittsburgh in 2011, by the way)…..  To Bono at his most 80’s-Bonoesque talkin’ about the rich getting’ richer and the poor with needles hangin’ from their arms and all the sufferin’ in the world…  To specifically mentioning someone named Gareth Spaulding who died of a heroin overdose.

Offline Vox

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 08:03:46 PM »
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Vox, even according to your own post, Bono never said he wrote the song for anyone other than Andy Rowen.  Just because he mentioned someone else to whom the song may be relevant does not get you to the conclusion that Bono is changing the song's history or original inspiration.  I'm not following your logic here.  Below is what you wrote.  Where does he claim he wrote it for anyone other than Andy Rowen?

Through the years in concert, Bono has described “Bad” as being about Andy Rowen specifically (who was alive and well enough to have the song dedicated to him at a U2 show in Pittsburgh in 2011, by the way)…..  To Bono at his most 80’s-Bonoesque talkin’ about the rich getting’ richer and the poor with needles hangin’ from their arms and all the sufferin’ in the world…  To specifically mentioning someone named Gareth Spaulding who died of a heroin overdose.

They're all examples.  The first one I mention way up at the top "about a friend of ours who on his 21st birthday was given enough heroin to kill him."  I believe it was a Chicago bootleg. Rowen is alive, correct?  Does anyone else remember Bono introducing the song like this?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 08:19:51 PM by Vox »

Offline Chip

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 08:40:08 PM »
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the original post, but I don't see any conflict. I think it's clear that Rowan inspired both songs, and the other statements about "Bad" are just additional applications of the song. So "Bad" was written about, or minimally inspired by, the problems of their real-life friend. Later, Bono sees it as as applying to societal trends. At another time, a guy named Gareth Spaulding dies of an overdose and Bono sees the song's sentiments as applying to him. This isn't changing stories about the song's origin; it's just applying the lyrics to later contemporary concerns/events.

For another example, think about "Bullet." It was written about U.S. involvement in Central America, but later was applied to neo-Nazism (Zoo TV tour), Irish immigration to America (POPMart), gun control in America (American leg of Elevation tour), et al. The song's original meaning has never been in dispute, but its application to current trends has evolved.

I'm just curious about the highlighted part.  My impression was that it was about immigration from Latin America to the US--hence the original segue from BtBS to Miami, Bono's "Fidel" hat/wardrobe during the song, and the inclusion of a snippet of "America" from West Side Story.

Tantalizing interpretation, Johnny -- I like it and you might well be right. I always took it as the Irish due to Bono's comment, "We run -- yeah, the Irish run -- into the arms of America" at the end of Mexico City's BTBS. From there, I made a connection in my own head to "The Refugee," which Bono said in some interview was about the Irish. So that's my own thought process, FWIW.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 08:44:33 PM by Chip »

Offline Chip

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 09:04:51 PM »
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Vox, even according to your own post, Bono never said he wrote the song for anyone other than Andy Rowen.  Just because he mentioned someone else to whom the song may be relevant does not get you to the conclusion that Bono is changing the song's history or original inspiration.  I'm not following your logic here.  Below is what you wrote.  Where does he claim he wrote it for anyone other than Andy Rowen?

Through the years in concert, Bono has described “Bad” as being about Andy Rowen specifically (who was alive and well enough to have the song dedicated to him at a U2 show in Pittsburgh in 2011, by the way)…..  To Bono at his most 80’s-Bonoesque talkin’ about the rich getting’ richer and the poor with needles hangin’ from their arms and all the sufferin’ in the world…  To specifically mentioning someone named Gareth Spaulding who died of a heroin overdose.

They're all examples.  The first one I mention way up at the top "about a friend of ours who on his 21st birthday was given enough heroin to kill him."  I believe it was a Chicago bootleg. Rowen is alive, correct?  Does anyone else remember Bono introducing the song like this?

I'm not one who can cite multiple concert comments by Bono about "Bad," but I guess I still don't see the conflict. To me, "given enough heroin to kill him" doesn't mean the person died -- just that he received enough that it could have killed him. Maybe the person didn't consume all of it, or maybe the person did, survived, and suffered from some form of "survivor's guilt" afterwards. In other words, I don't see anything here that rules out Andy Rowan whatsoever -- and the story is close and personal enough to Bono that it would be natural for him just to tell small snippets (even different snippets at different times) of it rather than the whole story. (With that in mind, what if the "survivor's guilt" came from surviving the RBW bombing when his father died, but Bono never spelled that out?)

The other examples you cite come across as extended applications to me rather than any meaning change. In any case, the inspiration for the song -- heroin abuse -- never seems to have changed.

Offline Vox

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Re: "Bad"/"Raised By Wolves" Question
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 06:58:42 AM »
I know it's Wikipidia and everything, but direct from the "Bad" Wikipidia page, with citations:

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"During a July 26, 2011 concert in Pittsburgh, Bono explained before a performance of "Bad" that the song was written for "very special man, who is here in your city, who grew up on Cedarwood Road. We wrote this song about him and we play it for him tonight." [5] He was referring to Andy Rowen, whom the song was originally written about in 1984 and who was present at the show. Rowen is brother of Bono's Lypton Village friend Guggi and Peter Rowen, who is featured on the sleeve artwork for the band's albums Boy and War.[6]" 

Okay -- so that makes sense -- that's clearly about Rowen....  But then, per citations on the Wikipidia page...

"There are other versions of the story from Bono himself. His account from a 1987 concert in Chicago indicate "Bad" is about a friend of his who died of a heroin overdose and also about the conditions that make such events likely to be repeated. Bono once commented in another concert (in the UK) about people lying in gutters with "needles hangin' outta their f*****' arms while the rich live indifferently to the suffering of the less fortunate." At Eriksberg, Gothenburg in Sweden 1987, he said: "I wrote the words about a friend of mine; his name was Gareth Spaulding, and on his 21st birthday he and his friends decided to give themselves a present of enough heroin into his veins to kill him. This song is called 'Bad.'"[7]"

And here's the Chicago show I was referring to about "given enough heroin into his blood stream to kill him."  Sure, I guess Bono doesn't explicitly say he DIED, per se, but really?  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

So.  There are your examples from other places than me.  Hey-- it's my favorite song of all time -- just wondering why (to me anyway) Bono keeps changing the story when he says "this song was written about."  Maybe I'm the only one's always confused by this?  I've wondered about this (to me anyway) inconsistency for the better part of 20+ years, and it was renewed again after reading the SOI liner notes.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 07:01:38 AM by Vox »