Single Review: U2 “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Album: How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Year: 2005

According to, Bono sang “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” at his father’s funeral. His father didn’t believe in dreams. However, Bono was the opposite and had “big ideas.” The single is a tribute to his father.

For years, Bono’s father told everybody he was tough and nothing could make him break (“Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff/You’re telling me and anyone/You’re hard enough”). He tells his father to let him handle whatever problems are going on. He wants his father to let go of his anger and talk with him. (“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”).

He tells his father he’s not alone and he’s there for him (“Listen to me now/I need to let you know/You don’t have to go it alone”). Bono sees some aspects of his father inside him. His father has attempted to reach out to him at times but he has avoided him. However he knows, he can’t make it through life without his father. (“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”).

Their relationship was tense but Bono forgives his father. Whatever caused the arguments doesn’t matter now. (“We fight all the time/You and I… that’s alright/We’re the same soul”). They were distant and his father was disappointed in him for resembling him. (“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”).

He’s tired of holding onto the grudges and the pain he’s had throughout the years (“I know that we don’t talk/I’m sick of it all”). However, it’s his father who is his inspiration for singing and love of music. (“Can – you – hear – me – when – I -/Sing, you’re the reason I sing/You’re the reason why the opera is in me”).

He wants to make up for lost time but knows he can’t. He wants to repair his relationship. It’s too late and now his life feels incomplete. He regerets not trying to be the bigger person and not truly loving his father. (“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”).

By the end, Bono is uncertain if his father really knew if he loved him or not. He will carry the doubt with him for the rest of life and forever wonder “what if I had done….?” “Sometimes…” is personal, intimate, and vulnearable that it becomes hard to listen to without tearing up. Classic U2 yet again.


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