guitar lesson: U2 Please

here we have U2 performing Please from their amazing, yet unappreciated, album POP. This is filmed in Mexico City at the end of their POPMART tour. This song evolved over the course of the tour into one of the best live songs they have ever performed.

I think it’s one of The Edge’s best guitar performances. There are so many great parts throughout the song. It’s a great example of how he can fill up a song with just a few notes. And the solo is in my top 5.

Guitar Players, take note of each section of the song and how he has a simple, yet extremely effective part for each. Sometimes it’s just playing off of 1 chord (the verse/Chorus), playing a 3 note pattern (pre chorus), a classic style riff (bridge), or an arpegiated pattern at the end. It’s all simple, but there’s such an attention to detail on the tones of each. he doesn’t do what you think he’s going to do. He makes each part sound the opposite of what i would usually make them sound like. For instance, The riff he plays on the bridge is a pretty funky riff, but he sort of turns it on it’s head with the tone he uses. He puts a really intense, over the top envelope filter with the delay and it’s just so great, guys! It’s the same with the pre chorus. He puts a different, slower envelope filter on this really simple, pretty, 3 note part that keeps it from being predictable and adds a totally different feeling to it. Also, the way he modifies the verse part for the chorus is so killer. It ties the whole song together. And the solo… oh my god.

I remember sitting in my room as a teenager and learning each part of this song. I’ve borrowed many ideas from his playing on this song.

Learn each part. It will teach you so much.



  1. Thanks for taking the time to share that, James. You’ve mentioned Joe Perry here and there before as well, which is someone I hadn’t ever really thought of much, so I appreciate all of the advice…definitely gets my mind opened up a bit more…

  2. I remember the first time you heard this. We were in my car in the parking lot of an Applebee’s. When it transitioned to WTSHNN I thought you were going to cry. When it was all over, you just sat there with your head in your hands, totally speechless. I don’t think I had ever seen you that floored by anything before.

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