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The Fly...The Music That Influenced Its Creation...?


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First, a quick disclaimer.

As I name influences, as I hear them,

I am NOT trying to say that U2 is thieving, unoriginal, owing anyone for royalties, or anything negative about U2.

I think that artists often hear something they like and actively try to write something in the spirit of what they've just heard sometimes.

An artist cannot help but be influenced by other artists.

In case I haven't convinced you that I am not trying to knock them, remember Bono's lyric from The Fly:

"every artist is a cannibal 

every poet is a thief

all kill their inspiration

then sing about their grief..."


Lastly, sorry about all the ads that precede the videos!!


As i listened to a tune from a project that i've been working on for some time now, it occurred to me that i could sing the main guitar riff of The Fly over it.

I have found this to be the case with a few other songs from the late 80's.

The tune in question?


Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.!!!


(there is some strong language here not to mention a dose of sexism,

so you have been warned...)


Then there's songs like Holy Ghost by Happy Mondays...



...and Mr. Disco by New Order.



Bono's voice is distorted in a way that calls to mind KMFDM for me.

It's not as distorted as on Zoo Station,

though as the first taste of the New U2 back in the fall of 1991,

it was many, many miles from the vocal approach that Bono had employed on anything preceding it.


The general focus of the lyrics makes me think of

Gavin Friday's Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves,

particularly the lyric that I quoted at the end of my earlier disclaimer.

Of course, Gavin has his own cover of The Fly as of 2011.


Bill Flanagan, in his book U2 At The End Of The World, 

said that he could imagine Elvis Presley singing something like The Fly.

It's the shift from a blues verse into a gospel chorus that elicited this idea from him.

Bono throws in that gospel vocal bit in the chorus just to add to the pile of influences...


N.W.A., Happy Mondays, New Order, Gavin Friday, Elvis Presley, Gospel, KMFDM...

and there may be more influences than I have identified.


Who's writing like that these days?

My favorite artists are the ones who draw from an endless pool of reference points yet retain and instantly identifiable sound of their own.

You might hear a bit of this influence or that influence but their unique identity remains assured AND they end up influencing countless artists themselves!!

Examples of this kind of artist that spring to mind include

(but are not limited to)

The Beatles, The Smiths, Roxy Music, and, of course, David Bowie.

I am fascinated by the capacity of these artists (and U2) to draw upon their influences and create new value and magic.


Maybe these discoveries are obvious or old news for some of you.

However, I found them to be pleasantly surprising.

Edge and Bono had referred to the influence of Hip Hop and some of the industrial acts of the time.

I just hadn't heard enough concrete examples that made me think that they were going for anything but a similar vibe.


Hearing the live version of Until The End Of The World proved one of the few instances where I could see a direct connection between what they had written on Achtung Baby and the influences they'd cited.

In that case, it was the chorus guitar of Head Like A Hole by Nine Inch Nails.

That guitar reminds me of Edge's chord work at the climax of

Until The End Of The World.

It's just similar enough.

Ultimately NIN lacks THAT RIFF and Bono's fantastic,

transcendent lyric writing ability,

so there's ultimately no serious comparison,

though I like Head Like A Hole well enough.

Hear for yourself...


Nine Inch Nails

Head Like A Hole



Until The End Of The World (Live From Sydney 1993)



One last off-topic point before I sign off.

I hear a fair bit of The Motivator by T. Rex

and Virginia Plain by Roxy Music

(mainly the keyboard work supplied by a young Brian Eno)

in Even Better Than The Real Thing.


T. Rex

The Motivator



Roxy Music

Virginia Plain



The Fly character and look was an identi-kit creation,

just as Ziggy Stardust before him.

Perhaps it isn't too much of a stretch to think that the songs themselves had an element of this approach from time to time.

Edited by HansasHeroes1991
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The ambient of the Bass line and Larry's beat  on The Fly >>>> Slightly influenced by  Bomb the bass - Megablast -



BUT it's totally morphed into something else....THE FLY is an original song.....

Edited by pain_18_
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I have an answer to this.....It's pretty serious !

U mad? (funny attitude catch-phrase, not directed at anyone)


That is fantastic!!!


That was interesting about Adam and Larry's contribution as well!

There is no question that The Fly is an original song.

I just look at influences the same way as I look as someone's parents.

You can see that there are similarities.

Nobody would look at a baby and say,

"Same eyes as the mother, same nose father, has his father's height and manner of speaking-

totally unoriginal kid!!"

By pointing out the influences I'm just saying where I think this baby comes from.

If N. W. A., Happy Mondays, New Order, Elvis, and KMFDM were to create a love child,

it'd turn out like The Fly!

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