Dierks Bentley will team with Americana duo The War and Treaty to perform U2’s 1984 classic “Pride (In the Name of Love)” on the ACM Awards on Sunday (April 18).
Bentley has a long history with the song, which was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and death. The country star recorded the song for his 2010 album Up on the Ridge, which became his fifth album to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200. He was backed on the recording by the Punch Brothers, featuring Del McCoury. Their down-home, bluegrass-shaded rendition received a Grammy nomination for best country collaboration with vocals. Bentley also teamed with pop group OneRepublic to perform the song on CMT Crossroads in 2014.
“Pride (In the Name of Love)” was the lead single from U2’s fourth studio album, The Unforgettable Fire. The song has power, passion and purpose — and contains an exceptional lyric (“They took your life/ They could not take your pride”). The song became U2’s first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. That said, it’s surprising it didn’t do better than it did, given that it’s considered such a classic today. The song peaked at No. 33 on the Hot 100 — good, but not great. And neither it nor the album on which it was featured received a Grammy nomination. But it set the stage for the band’s 1987 breakthrough with The Joshua Tree, which spawned back-to-back No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 and won two Grammys, including album of the year.
“Pride (In the Name of Love)” has since been covered by a wide range of artists. Take a look:
Clivilles + Cole: The 1992 cover version by the masterminds of C & C Music Factory also made the Hot 100. In fact, it remained on the chart longer than U2’s original version did — though U2’s version climbed higher. The techno club treatment is far removed from Bentley’s front-porch styling, but it shows how a great song can be interpreted in widely divergent ways. The song was featured on Clivilles + Cole’s 1992 compilation Greatest Remixes Vol. 1, which reached No. 87 on the Billboard 200.
Soweto Gospel Choir: The famed choir included a radiant version of the song on the 2008 compilation In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. The group has won three Grammys for best world music album. (The category is now called best global music album.)
John Legend: The future EGOT winner sang the song to promote the History Channel’s two-hour special King, which premiered April 6, 2008, just after the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Legend’s version is characteristically classy. The soft piano opening shows the influence Lionel Richie has had on his music.
Michael Bolton: The two-time Grammy winner teamed with concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers to perform the song on his 2011 album Gems: The Duets Collection. The album also included covers of such classics as Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” and the Joe Cocker hit “You Are So Beautiful.” The album reached No. 128 on the Billboard 200.
David Archuleta: The 2008 American Idol runner-up included the song on his 2012 album Begin, which reached No. 28 on the Billboard 200. The album also included covers of such prized songs as R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Flyleaf: The Christian hard rock band teamed with Richard Patrick (lead vocalist of Filter and Army of Anyone) to perform the song on the 2006 album The Family Values Tour 2006. The live album marked the fourth iteration of the Family Values Tour started in 1998 by Korn. The album reached No. 102 on the Billboard 200. Flyleaf’s eponymous debut album that same year went platinum.
Delirious?: The Christian rock band from England included the song on In The Name of Love: Artists United for Africa. The album consisted of covers of U2 songs performed by Christian bands. A portion of the proceeds went to alleviate the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
The Persuasions: The a cappella group from Harlem included the song on their 2005 album The Persuasions Sing U2. The retro arrangement suggests that that the song would have fit into the doo-wop era of the late ’50s. The Persuasions have also recorded entire albums devoted to songs by Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead and The Beatles.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: The London-based orchestra included the song on their 1999 album Pride: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays U2. The spirited instrumental version shows off the song’s melodic strengths. The classical crossover act had a platinum album in the early ’80s, Hooked on Classics.