Considering 2002’s Gangs of New York dealt with Irish immigrants trying to survive after coming to America in the 19th century (along with engaging in gang warfare across New York City), it makes sense that the biggest Irish band in the world, U2, would contribute a song to the soundtrack. Bono and the boys wrote and performed “The Hands That Built America”, with lyrics paying tribute to the 19th-century Irish immigrants and their contributions that helped build America. The title is a play on the song “The Man Who Built America” by Horslips and U2 had the full blessing of Horslip’s lead singer and bass player Barry Devlin to use and change the title. “The Hands That Built America” was originally going to be released as a single, with another Bono movie soundtrack song, a cover of “That’s Life” from The Good Thief on the B-Side but the release never happened. U2 played the song regularly following the release of the movie but hasn’t performed it live since 2004. The song was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song but lost to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, which seemed to be par for the course for Gangs of New York as it was nominated for 10 total Oscars but didn’t win anything, which is especially egregious in the case of Daniel Day Lewis’ masterful turn as Bill the Butcher in the Best Actor category, who lost to Adrien Brody. U2 shot a music video to go along with the movie and it features the band intercut with scenes from the movie, check it out below.
Where to watch Gangs of New York
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.