Song Review by

"One" is among U2's finest recordings, with its lyrical simplicity, heart-rending vocal delivery, and evocative instrumentation. The song suggests an understanding and compassion between all people -- from partners and bandmates to the sick and suffering -- in its suggestion that "we get to carry each other." The single was in fact released to benefit AIDS charities and thus the lyrics can be interpreted as a direct line toward compassion for people with AIDS. The guitar sounds are unusually warm and soulful for U2, in part attributed to the use of an acoustic in addition to the Edge's empathic, electric lead throughout. The synthesizer sounds that come on slowly after the first verse and build steadily toward the end are subtle enough. Bono's vocal finally cuts loose with the lines "love is the temple, love the highest law..." as he answers the questions he poses throughout during the song's climactic sequence. "One" hit Top Ten in May of 1992; a video featuring Bono shot at Nell's nightclub in New York City enhanced the song's access to the masses. Additional song lore: It was reported that it is among Axl Rose's favorites; for the 1993 Presidential Inauguration, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Mike Mills suggested collaboration on it to U2's Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. -- the quartet performed it, calling itself Automatic Baby (an amalgam of the respective band's current album titles Automatic for the People and Achtung Baby). A rough cut of the song -- with a very out-of-tune Mills -- first showed up on the R.E.M. bootleg This Is It: Versions By the Royal Philharmonic (Plays the Music of U2), Information Society (We Will Follow: Tribute to U2), and others float around, but nothing compares to the "One."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Achtung Baby 1991
Island 4:36
Now: 1992 [1993] 1993
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 5:42
The Family Man 2000
Original Soundtrack
Sire / WEA 4:37
Pure Power Ballads 2004
Various Artists
Dynamic Music & Media / Pure Records 4:35
MTV Asia Aid [#1] 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:36
Peace for Ireland: One Child at a Time 2005
Various Artists
Project Children 4:38
The Work of Director Anton Corbijn [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
The U2 Phenomenon: The Independent Review 2006
Classic Rock Legends
The Best of 1980-2000 2009
Island 4:35