War is the third studio album by Irish rock band U2, released on 28 February 1983. The album has come to be regarded as U2's first overtly political album, in part because of songs like "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Year's Day", as well as the title, which stems from the band's perception of the world at the time; Bono stated that "war seemed to be the motif for 1982."
While the central themes of their earlier albums Boy and October focused on adolescence and spirituality, respectively, War focused on both the physical aspects of warfare, and the emotional after-effects. Musically, it is also harsher than the band's previous releases. The album has been described as the record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade."
War was a commercial success for the band, knocking Michael Jackson's Thriller from the top of the charts to become the band's first #1 album in the UK. It reached #12 in the U.S. and became their first Gold-certified album there. War has received critical acclaim. In 2012, the album was ranked number 223 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"
U2 began recording War on 17 May 1982. The band took a break soon afterwards, as newlyweds Bono and Ali honeymooned in Jamaica. It has been noted that it was not a typical honeymoon, as Bono reportedly worked on the lyrics for the upcoming album. The lyrics to "New Year's Day" had its origins in a love song Bono wrote for his wife, but the song was reshaped and inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement.
The album's opener, "Sunday Bloody Sunday", an ardent protest song, stems from a guitar riff and lyric written by The Edge
in 1982. Following an argument with his girlfriend, and a period of
doubt in his own song-writing abilities, The Edge — "feeling
depressed... channeled [his] fear and frustration and self-loathing into
a piece of music." Early versions of the song opened with the line, "Don't talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA". After Bono had reworked the lyrics, the band recorded the song at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin. The opening drum pattern soon developed into the song's hook. A local violinist, Steve Wickham, approached The Edge one morning at a bus stop
and asked if U2 had any need for a violin on their next album. In the
studio for only half a day, Wickham's electric violin became the final
instrumental contribution to the song.