ONE - U2: a lesson plan by Seamus O'Muircheartaigh

Teacher’s Notes - To the lesson materials

Level: Upper intermediate

Introduction:

  • Pictures of the buffalo

You could start off the lesson by getting students to look at the cover of the CD single. If you don’t have the single you can find an image here:
http://images.google.com/images?biw=&q=u2+%2B+one&hl=en&btn
G=Search+Images

Get students in pairs to look at the pictures and describe what they see, what they think is happening and why. (it’s probably a good idea to blank out the name of the song and the group) After doing some feedback let students read the short text on the back of the CD cover.

The image on the cover is a photograph by the American artist David Wojnarowicz, depicting how Indians hunted buffalo by causing them to run off cliffs. Wojnarowicz identifies himself and ourselves with the buffalo, pushed into the unknown by forces we cannot control or even understand. Wojnarowicz is an activist artist and writer whose work has created controversy recently through its uncompromising depiction of the artist’s homosexuality, his infection by the AIDS virus and the political crisis surrounding AIDS .

They could compare their ideas with the text and from there you could go on to talk about AIDS and how things may have changed from when the song was released in 1991.

  • One in different languages

Students match the word one in English with it’s translation in the other languages. Here are the answers.

Uno

Spanish

Aon

Gaeilge (Irish)

Eins

German

Een

Dutch

Um

Portguese

ένας

Greek

Bat

Basque

Ettall

Norwegian

  • Vocabulary Pre-Teach

Students check the meaning of the words/phrases in a mono-lingual dictionary.

  • Listening Option 1

Students listen to the song and as they do, complete the feedback form found in Tim Murphey’s book ‘Music & Song’ ‘Song Feedback’ p.90
From Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194370550/developingteac0b
From Amazon.co uk:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194370550/developingteache
or something similar that you design yourself.

  • Listening Option 2

Students listen to the song to put the different sections in order.

  • Reading & Speaking

Students read over the lyrics in the correct order and discuss in pairs/groups what they think the song is about.

  • Translation Option

Students read over the lyrics and translate it into their own language.

  • Reading

Students read over the different interpretations of the song and discuss which one they are most convinced by and why. I first saw some of these texts being used by Serge Nicaudie on a CELTA training course in April 2004.

  • Video Clip Design

Students in pairs/threes think about what the video of the song might look like. You could then get students to watch the video. (There were actually three videos made, one in Berlin, one in a bar and the other with the buffaloes. You can find two versions, the one from Berlin and the one in the bar on The Best Of U2 - Volume 2 DVD. The one from Berlin is the most interesting to use.)
From Amazon.co uk:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000078DOB/developingteache

As the students watch the video they could answer the evaluation sheet taken from Tim Murphey’s book ‘Music & Song’ ‘What makes a good video’ p. 115. After they have watched the video they could compare their ideas and again discuss which of the interpretations the video suggests. The video which is shot in Berlin ends with two old East German Trabants facing each other in front of the Olympic Stadium. U2’s royalties from the sale of the single went to AIDS research. The band appear in drag (which they were actually worried about in that it might have been misunderstood that they were suggesting that AIDS was only a problem for a certain section of society) and the old man in the video is actually Bono’s father, Bob Hewson.

  • DVD – Gist Listening

The script comes from a U2 documentary regularly shown on the Biography Channel http://www.biographychannel.com. If you don’t have a copy you can always simply let the students read the script and for gist decide which of the interpretations from the previous reading the band talk about.

  • DVD – Vocabulary Development

Students read over the script again and match the vocabulary items with the appropriate definitions from the context.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

G

F

M

A

B

I

J

K

C

L

D

H

E

N

  • DVD – Gist Listening Optional

If you have a copy of the U2 hits DVD, one of the extra features is a documentary ‘The Making Of One’. In this there is a description of the background to the song and an explanation of why the band made three different videos. It has subtitles in various languages so students could simply sit and watch if you wanted to.

  • Reading Optional

Students read over part of the text ‘Take out your phones’ to see how the song is being used in the concerts on the current tour. See the end of the materials below for the text.

  • Speaking Development

To finish off students could discuss these questions in pairs/threes.

  • A few other U2 songs to use

‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’ - Father-Relationship

Bono says,

I sang the song Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own at my father's funeral. He was a very tough old boot of a guy, Irish, Dub, north side Dubliner, very cynical about the world and the people in it, but very charming and funny with it. His whole thing was, don't dream. To dream is to be disappointed. That's really who I think my father was, and that was his advice to me... he didn't speak it in those words but that's what he meant. And of course that's really a recipe for megalomania, isn't it? I was only ever interested in big ideas, and not actually so much dreaming, but putting dreams into action. Doing the things that you have in your head has become an important thing for me. Anyway, the song Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own is dedicated to him, it's a portrait of him, and it also explains that he was a great singer, a great tenor. A working class Dublin guy who listened to the opera and conducted the stereo with my mother's knitting needles - he just loved opera. We didn't talk very much, so in the song I say to him, can you hear me when I sing, and I hit one of those big tenor notes that he would have loved so much.

‘Running To Stand Still’ – Drug/Heroine Abuse

‘Peace On Earth’ - The Omagh bombing of August 1998.


Lesson materials

Vocabulary:

Match these translations of the word ‘One’ in English with the appropriate language.

Uno

German

Aon

Spanish

Eins

Dutch

Een

Greek

Um

Norwegian

ένας

Gaeilge (Irish)

Bat

Portuguese

Ettall

Basque

*************************************

Vocabulary:

Check the meaning of these words in a monolingual dictionary.

  1. blame (verb)
  2. disappoint (verb)
  3. crawl (verb)
  4. leper (noun)
  5. drag (verb)
  6. temple (noun)
  7. to leave a bad taste in one's mouth (verb)
  8. to go without something (verb)
  9. forgiveness (noun)
  10. to raise the dead (verb)
  11. to hold on to something (verb)
  12. to get to do something (verb)

*************************************

Listening:

One - U2
Listen to the song and put these sections in the correct order. Write your answers in the box below.

a.
One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it
b.
Well it's...

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One...

c.
Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head
d.
One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters, Brothers
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other, Carry each other
e.
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
f.
Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...
g.
Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

h.
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
i.
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
j.
One...life

One

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

                   

*************************************

One - U2

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's...

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One...
Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One...life

One

*************************************

Reading:

Read over the different interpretations of the meaning of the song and decide which one you are most convinced by and why. Texts adapted from http://hem.bredband.net/steverud/U2MoL/index.html

1. One is a song about the German population after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Now they had to come together again to get ‘ one’. It’s about the families who split after the 2 world war. The me/I in the song is most probably an east-German talking to a west-German, and to my ears this interpretation makes perfect sense both when you listen to the lyrics and looking in the CD-case (Trabants, pictures from Berlin etc).

2. I seem to remember reading an interview with Bono around the time the song was released in which he said that it dealt with the subjects of love, homosexuality, and AIDS. Also, the cover of the single has a painting of a buffalo running off a cliff. On the back, it is explained that this is a painting by a man who is HIV positive and that this painting and many others that he has done, are about homosexuality and AIDS and signifies how time and life are fleeting.

3. The story behind how the song was written in fact saved U2 from breaking up. The band was having a real tough time creativity wise and was falling apart. The band were fighting and arguing all the time; hence the quote ‘ We hurt each other and we'll do it again’. They had even spent some time discussing whether or not they had finally used up all of their creative energy and talent. Eventually, they decided that they probably had but after they wrote ‘One’ they realized what they created and their creativity slump was over. The band stopped fighting and continued on to record the amazing and mind-blowing album which we now recognize as Achtung Baby.

4. I think the song might be more directed towards a homosexual man whose father has given up hope on him. The lyrics "we are one, but we are not the same," refer to the parental bonds between them, yet the son is a homosexual. Also judging from the time period when this song was released, AIDS was scaring a great deal of the population, and it was a big scare in the gay population. Judging from the sad tone of the song, the son might soon die without reconciling with his father.

5. I think that most of the songs from the album are rather personal, strongly influenced by separations – those of the The Edge and other friends close to the band. The topic is about love, which goes together with cruelty, blindness, waves of joy, waves of regret. Love is the only important thing in life, yet it hurts, you cannot live it out without hurting the one you love.

Love has left and the writer reflects the other person’s thoughts about it giving him the blame. He defends himself however, by asking a lot. The conclusion is that there is only hurt left, and therefore he has to separate. Nevertheless the song gets a strength from the strong feeling of the longing to be one, without being the same. There is this longing, like an ideal, like a vision, to live in one love, one blood, one need, the vision of the tensions to be overcome, when we carry each other. So sadness with anger and self-defence go together with a longing, a vision. Thereby you feel the depth of the pain and you see the hard work you have to do yourself to care for your own love.

*************************************

DVD Script:

Narrator: At the start of the 90’s U2’s future was a blank slate. For the first time the band was at a loss for what to do next. Bono said that they should tap into the energy of the new Europe, the Cold War was over and the Berlin Wall was coming down. Bono thought it was time for them to make new music for a new era. U2 flew into East Berlin on the last flight before East Germany faded into history. They set up camp at Hansa Studios, the site of David Bowie’s ground-breaking work with Brian Eno in the 1970’s. Bono figured that U2 would be inspired by the spirit of the place, the fervour of the unification. It was a good theory but in reality Hansa Studios was falling apart. The band ended up staying in a sleazy hotel in the former East Berlin but the biggest problem U2 faced was a division that almost broke up the group. Edge had been getting into a lot of experimental electronic music and Bono was raving about dance rhythms at the Manchester club scene.

Edge: Going into that record Bono and I had worked on maybe, 2 or 3 songs that we thought could go all the way and erm, it was a bit of a departure for the band so there was this thing that Bono and Edge are writing songs, they say they’re great, they’re taking us off in some different direction and really, I felt Adam and Larry’s resistance.

Adam: There was a lot of confusion though everyone was, was suffering from it. It was this feeling that we had to forge a new sound for the band but none of us really knew how to do that.

Larry: It was the first time ever that U2 would come together as a band and play and nothing would happen.

Narrator: The darkness of Berlin closed in on Berlin. The sessions dragged on and the band felt they weren’t getting anywhere. Edge started about splitting up the group. Larry felt that if they had to choose between the band and their friendships, U2 would have to go.

Adam: It had got pretty grim in Berlin.

Bono: There was a lot of shouting and fi.., people threatening to kill each other.

Edge: I could see the headlines, you know, the term musical differences, you know, started to loom and I thought, Oh, this is, this could get messy.

Bono: And then out of the blue, popped this song ‘One’

Larry: I just remember walking into the control room and hearing this guitar riff, the guitar riff from ‘One’ and I just said, ‘that is it!’ this is.., this is something special.

Edge: And within, like, 20 minutes we were playing this thing and it was, everyone was getting off on it and erm, that was the real turning point, turning point I think for me on the record ‘cos I really felt that there was something really special in that tune.

Adam: That just felt right. I mean maybe, maybe it summed up the way we felt as a band trying to kind of go somewhere and not being able to do it at the time.

Narrator: Once they realised they could still make music together U2 was ready to go home. Back in Dublin, Bono, Larry, Adam and The Edge had a serious discussion about their expectations of each other and the band. They listened to the tapes from Berlin and realised they had a lot of material to work with.

Edge: The whole session kind of turned around from then on and everyone was much more focused and, and enthusiastic and it kind of dispelled the, that tension. And then Adam and Larry started to get inspired and they came up with some great stuff and we were off.

*************************************

Vocabulary Development:

Read the script and match the vocabulary items with the appropriate definition for the context.

1. a blank slate

A. to think or guess that something is the case.

2. to be at a loss for something

B. somewhere dirty, badly cared for, not respectable, rather sordid.

3. to tap into something

C. to try and create something that something strong and lasting that people will admire.

4. to figure

D. when something frightening is likely to happen soon.

5. sleazy

E. to become very excited about something.

6. to rave about something

F. when you don’t know what to do in a particular situation.

7. to get into something

G. when you make a fresh start without taking into consideration past failures or mistakes.

8. to go all the way

H. when something happens by surprise.

9. to forge

I. to speak or write about something with great enthusiasm.

10. grim

J. to begin to enjoy something.

11. to loom

K. to become very successful.

12. out of the blue

L. unpleasant, depressing, unattractive in appearance.

13. to get off on something

M. to make use of something to get from it something that you need or want.

14. we were off

N. to overcome problems and continue successfully with a project

Write you answers here.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

                           

*************************************

Speaking Development:

Discuss these questions with a partner.

  • Is music important to you?
  • Why? Why not?
  • How often do you listen to it?
  • Who are some of your favourite artists?
  • Do you have a favourite song/couple of songs/albums?
  • Why is that/are they your favourite(s)?
  • Do you often go to concerts?
  • What was the best/worst concert you have ever been to?
  • How often do you buy music?
  • Do you download music from the internet?
  • Do you buy pirate copies of CD’s and DVD’s on the street?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea or do you think that they do harm to the music industry?
  • Do you or have you ever played a musical instrument?
  • Do you think music and politics should be mixed?
  • Why/Why not?

*************************************

25.05.2005
Take Out Your Phones!

The mobile phone is the modern cigarette lighter for appreciative fans - but far more powerful.

It's one of the most dramatic moments of this or any U2 show. Suddenly, ninety minutes in, the lights are down and ten thousand people are holding their cell-phones aloft, turning the arena into a dazzling swamp of blue and white fireflies.

But this is not a moment that is just about rock 'n' roll theatre. This is technological innovation being put to work for a profound cause.

When Bono invites people to take out their cell phones he is also inviting them to sign up to the ONE campaign and become part of a popular movement which will pressure Western politicians to end extreme poverty in Africa. This is how The Washington Post put it last week.

'Some way into each performance, Bono interrupts the music to deliver variations on this riff: The first time I heard about America, he says, it was because a man had landed on the moon. But now I want to talk about my generation's challenge -- not putting a man on the moon but bringing mankind back down to Earth by addressing extreme poverty. Take out your cell phones, the riff continues; make this place into a Christmas tree. And with that, the lights go out, leaving darkness punctuated by the fairy lights of 10,000 waving gadgets. "There's some light in the world," Bono's voice calls out, proving that rock stars can say ordinary things and yet somehow sound profound. "We are powerful when we work together as one."

The cell-phone moment in the Vertigo show is little short of breathtaking. It is, as the Chicago Tribune put it last week, 'like standing in a moonlit field, gazing at a velvet canvas of stars. About a quarter to a third of the 24,000 U2 fans raised their phones... Above the stage, the phrase, "Text your name to UNITE [86483]."

Next day, those who texted get a response from Bono inviting them to learn more about the One Campaign to Make Poverty History. Already, more than 650,000 people have joined the movement. The goal is to collect the names of 1 million U.S. residents and persuade the federal government to dedicate 1% of the U.S. budget toward “basic needs--education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans.” According to ONE this “would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries."

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