Another Green World?

Eno, Ireland and U2


  • Noel McLaughlin Northumbria University



Bono, Brian Eno, colonialism, cultural identity, hybridity, imperialism, Ireland, Irish popular music, Irish rock, post-colonialism, U2


This article explores a neglected area of popular music scholarship: the different aspects of auteur producer Brian Eno’s often complex relationship with Irish rock band, U2 and their home nation. It considers the cultural and political significance of Eno’s technical, aesthetic and philosophical innovations in his work with U2 in relation to wider debates about Irish cultural identity as articulated through music. It also explores how U2 and the Irish context may have reciprocally influenced aspects of Eno’s approach to artistic production. The article also seeks to situate these ideas within broader popular historical discourses that frame the Eno and U2 relationship.

Author Biography

Noel McLaughlin, Northumbria University

Noel McLaughlin is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Design at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He has written extensively about Irish rock and popular music. Noel’s most recent book is Rock and Popular Music in Ireland: Before and After U2 (with Martin McLoone, Irish Academic Press, 2012) and he is currently co-editing a special edition of Popular Music History with Sean Campbell exploring Irish popular music in Britain. Alongside this, Noel is working on a new monograph, The Rock Musician on Film, as well as developing an article about popular music, city space and gentrification. He currently lives in west London.


Arnold, Matthew. 1867. On the Study of Celtic Literature. London: Smith, Elder & Company.

Browne, Harry. 2013. The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). London: Verso.

Cambrensis, Giraldus. 1863. The History and Topography of Ireland, ed. Thomas Wright, trans. Thomas Forester. London: H.G. Bohn.

Dunhill, Alfred. 2013. ‘Brian Eno on Surrendering, Noticing, Imperfection’.

Dyer, Richard. 1993. ‘The Role of Stereotypes’. In Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation, 11–18. London: Routledge.

Eno, Brian. 1994. ‘Bringing up Baby’. In The U2 Files, ed. Rolling Stone, 165–70. New York: Hyperion.

—1996. A Year with Swollen Appendices: The Diary of Brian Eno. London: Faber & Faber.

—2004. ‘The Studio as Compositional Tool’. In Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 127–30. New York: Continuum.

Fast, Susan. 2008. ‘Music, Context and Meaning in U2’. In Expression in Rock-Pop Music: Critical and Analytical Essays, ed. Walter Everett, 175–97. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Flanagan, Bill. 1995. U2: At the End of the World. New York: Bantam Press.

Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Frith, Simon, and Howard Horne. 1987. Art into Pop. New York: Methuen.

Graham, Bill. 1989. U2—the Early Years: Another Time, Another Place. London: Mandarin.

—1995. ‘Interview by Noel McLaughlin’. Dublin: Unpublished.

Jensen, Klaus Bruhn. 2008. The International Encyclopedia of Communication, ed. Wolfgang Donsbach. Blackwell Online:

McCormick, Neil. 2008. U2 by U2. London: Harper.

McLaughlin, Noel, and Martin McLoone. 2012. Rock and Popular Music in Ireland: Before and After U2. Dublin and Portland, OR: Irish Academic Press.

Morley, Paul. 2010. ‘On Gospel, Abba and the Death of the Record: An Audience with Brian Eno’. The Observer Review. 17 January.

Pratt, Mary Louise. 1991. ‘Arts of the Contact Zone’. Profession 91: 33–40. Modern Language Association.

—2007. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Prendergast, Mark J. 1987. The Isle of Noises: Rock and Roll’s Roots in Ireland. Dublin: O’Brien Press.

—2000. The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby—the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age. London: Bloomsbury.

Reynolds, Simon. 2005. Rip it Up and Start Again: Post-punk 1978–1984. London: Faber.

Reynolds, Simon, and Joy Press. 1995. The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock ’n’ Roll. London: Serpent’s Tail.

Savage, Jon. 2011. ‘Brian Eno Profile and Interview’. BBC Newsnight, October.

Sheppard, David. 2008. On Some Far Away Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno. London: Orion.

Smyth, Gerry. 2005. Noisy Island: A Short History of Irish Popular Music. Cork: Cork University Press.

Tamm, Eric. 1995. Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Colour of Sound. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Tannenbaum, Rob. 1985. ‘A Meeting of Sound Minds: John Cage and Brian Eno’. Musician 83, September: 64–70, 72, 106.

Thornton, Sarah. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Wollen, Peter. 1982. ‘The Two Avant-Gardes’. In Peter Wollen, Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter Strategies, 92–104. London: Verso.



How to Cite

McLaughlin, N. (2015). Another Green World? Eno, Ireland and U2. Popular Music History, 9(2), 173–194.