Sometimes You Can’t Make It Alone

Bono of U2 completed the writing of this song after his father had died. Sometimes when Bono performs this song, he says that he takes his glasses off out of respect to his father.

Sometimes You Can’t Make It Alone

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can you hear me when I
Sing, you’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me

Where are we now?
I’ve got to let you know
A house still doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
The best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

The song is about Bono’s relationship with his dying father. The lyrics were written as a tribute to his father, Bob Hewson, who died of cancer in 2001. The song is an older U2 song that was never quite complete until it was finally published on the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album in 2004. U2 was working on the All That You Can’t Leave Behind album in 2000 while writing this song and then began touring to promote the new album. During the tour, Bono needed to return home to Ireland a number of times to be with his father who was suffering from cancer. His father later died. Because of Bono’s dad’s passing, the tour was almost canceled. However, the tour continued.  Bono subsequently completed the song – in the middle of the song it seems that Bono can’t hear his father as clearly anymore – and began performing it in front of live audiences. The song won “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” and “Song of the Year” at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Bono admits that his relationship with his father was rough at times. Occasionally, the phone would ring and Bono would know that it was his father calling. But he wouldn’t answer it out of anger or spite. In the first two choruses, Bono doesn’t pick up the phone. But in the third chorus, he sings that it’s you that makes it hard to let go. The song was originally entitled Tough.

Bono is quoted as saying, “I wish I’d known him better.” Bono sang this song at his father’s funeral in 2001.

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