"Red Flag Day" (2015)

Demo Song

Background Information

“Red Flag Day” is a song that U2 developed for their album Songs of Experience.

“Red Flag Day” was first named in an interview with Jon Pareles of the New York Times, published April 29, 2015. Pareles interviewed the band prior to the kick off of the U2ieTour, and the band does talk about recording the followup to Songs of Innocence:

New producers have been joining the band in Vancouver, including Andy Barlow from the electronic group Lamb, who cued up some of the U2 tracks in progress like “Red Flag Day,” “Civilization” and “Instrument Flying” as Bono enthusiastically sang along with himself. “We’re keeping the discipline on songs and pushing out the parameters of the sound,” Bono said. “They’re very basic earthy things, irreverent. They’re not lofty themes. One of the things that experience has taught us is to be fully in the moment. What’s the moment? Pop music.”

The song is also mentioned at the end of 2015, when Q Magazine (February 2016 issue) released their preview of upcoming music for 2016, including a one page article on U2. The article draws from other sources and previous interviews, but there is also some new content, including a discussion with Adam Clayton and more info from Bono:

Last year, Bono played Q four new songs in various states of completion, “Instrument Flying” had a sleek, motorik quality. “The Little Things That Give You Away” was vibrantly anthemic; “Much More Better” was a deeply personal acoustic demo about Bono’s recovery from his bike accident; and the tense, heavy “Civilisation” sounded like a surefire album opener. Bono described Larry Mullen’s colossal drum roll in the middle of the song as “my favorite bit on a U2 album in years.” He also previewed an untitled, riff-heavy song related to Songs of Innocence’s “Volcano,” mentioned the titles “Landlady” and “Where the Shadows Fall,” and said that the producers so far included Slaves’ producer Jolyon Thomas and Andy Barlow of electronic duo Lamb. Elsewhere, he has talked about songs called “Red Flag Day” and “Get Out of Your Own Way.”

“Red Flag Day” also gets a mention in February 2017, in an article published in MOJO Magazine (Issue 281, cover date, April 2017):

Of the songs Bono currently imagines will make the final tracklist, his current favourite is “The Showman,” “It’s like something from Rubber Soul,” he enthuses. “It’s about singers. It’s not me.” To illustrate his point he quotes the song’s lyrics to MOJO: “The showman gives you front row to his heart/The shaman prays that his heartache will chart/Making a spectacle of falling apart/Is the heart of the show.” Other likely inclusions are “The Best Thing About You Is Me” and “The Little Things That Give You Away,” while both “Red Flag Day” and “Summer of Love” reference the refugee crisis in Europe. “Two songs that have a similar theme,” says Bono “about people running for their lives on the same Mediterranean that we’re running through the shallows. “Summer of Love” is achingly beautiful and empty. It could be a big song and it’s tiny. These are real tunes.”

“Red Flag Day” is also one of the songs that U2 has been playing for journalists and music industry people prior to shows on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour. The song is expected to appear on the Songs of Experience album.

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