SUE LAWLEY: There are undoubtedly some groups who would never have made it to the top if it hadn’t been for your initial loyalty and encouragement, which has meant that you have been – are in – a very powerful position – do you enjoy that power?
JOHN PEEL: Not at all, really, and I don’t think you can allow yourself to reflect on it when you’re putting programmes [out], and I don’t really entirely believe in it anyway because, and people say there are certain bands, and obviously you advance them a little bit and bring them to a slightly wider audience than they previously had, but at the same time there are numbers of bands whose records I’ve stoutly resisted playing and I’ve refused to have in session like U2 and the Police and Dire Straits, all of whom applied for sessions at one time or another, all of whom were turned down by myself and producer John Walters, quite rightly so I think, so if ever I started to think of myself as some sort of kingmaker, I can reflect back on those bands who have become stupendously successful. [Desert Island Discs, 1989]
U2, say, or Dire Straits…might have ended up playing stadiums, winning awards and selling millions of albums if only they had found favour with John. [Margrave Of The Marshes, p. 363]
…or Jesus Jones, I hear (some of you) cry? Sheila’s somewhat tongue in cheek postulation belies a stark truth, that JP was never really interested in playing the fame game, and thus he probably identified career pop stars very quickly (thus also turned Oasis down for sessions, but accepted Blur).
This cannot detract from the fact that Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen and The Edge made some stunning music in the days before they decided that people weren’t intelligent enough to think for themselves. U2’s album War had New Year’s Day (FF 1983 #41 and UK number 10 in January 1983) as its third track, and it is that majestic 5 and a half minute version I feature today.
As he stood in the studio on the day in 1982 that U2 was finalizing “New Year’s Day,” Bono had a mental picture of Lech Walesa, the Polish Solidarity leader, standing in the snow on New Year’s Day, leading a workers strike. It resonated with him.
The band members had gone through some problems, and they weren’t sure they wanted to continue together. Their spiritual values seemed at odds with the rock lifestyle, but they finally realized they could use the music to share their beliefs. So it felt like the band too was beginning again.
Against a gentle musical backdrop, Bono pieced together a message about starting over and solidarity, a message of innocence and hope. [From this site]