U2 – The Hands That Built America

For the Gangs of New York movie soundtrack, U2 sang in 2002 about a laundry list of issues concerning the USA.

While the lyrics are a little vague, the first verse is said to be partly concerned with the Irish Potato Famine/Great Famine (1840s-1850s) in which about a million Irish died and as much left, many for the USA.  The song also gets into the American Dream – the ethos that rolling up one’s sleeves in a land of equal opportunity can bring success. Various ethnicities are listed as being the immigrants that made the country what it is. As if that doesn’t cover enough, 9/11 is thrown in for good measure at the end.

Perhaps the song is a first year university survey course on issues that U2 were thinking about in 2002… but inspiration to turn each part into a separate song did not materialize.

A search for “American Dream” at right will bring up several other songs on this topic.


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