A few recent U2 poetic favourites
I’ve been preparing a seminar on U2 for the European Leadership Forum in Hungary at the end of the month – so have become even more than normally obsessive about U2. Sorry about that. What it does mean though is that I’ve systematically listened to the whole of their back catalogue and been staggered yet again by some of the ingenuity and succinctness of Bono’s & The Edge’s lyrics – but also by their spiritual profundity and insight. Here then is a personal and by no means exhaustive list from the most recent 2 albums. So perhaps this just might be the first of a few posts from some of the earlier stuff… “Oh joy, oh rapture”, I hear you chorus.
From ALL BECAUSE OF YOU (How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb 2002)
All because of you (x3)
I am… I am
Now why do you think he repeats the phrase ‘I am’…? All very subtle.
Then there’s this one – more explicit of course, but telling nonetheless. The second line of the clip could almost become a motto for Quaerentia…
From WALK ON (All That You Can’t Leave Behind 2000)
You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen…
Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the heart is
Leave it behind / You’ve got to leave it behind
All that you fashion / All that you make / All that you build
All that you break / All that you measure / All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
In the face of the madness and horror of a violent world, this small stanza beautifully encapsulates the ideal of life – one not cut short by ‘unnatural’ death but redeemed to a hope beyond death…
From LOVE AND PEACE OR ELSE (How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb 2002)
This is a more well-known single from their 2000 album – No 1 in a number of places including the UK. Quite apart from the way the words evoke a thrilling orbit’s view of the earth (albeit one with the darker edge of environmental abuse – eg ‘tuna fleets clearing the sea out’ etc), it clearly points us beyond what we can see – for out of the blue comes the unmistakable flight of the dove of Genesis 8:11 & 9:16. There’s no way you could of course see a single bird from the space station – but you can see the profound reality beyond the visible – that God is a covenant making God – and the day he makes a covenant to protect and rescue is more beautiful even than the day he made the world.
From BEAUTIFUL DAY (All That You Can’t Leave Behind 2000)
See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out
It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away … A beautiful day
Then finally, there’s this one, which I’ve actually preached & blogged about before. Note – it is full of the angst and doubts of the believer, not the doubter. And in that respect has many resonances with the psalms. But what gets to me is the phrase I’ve highlighted – so clever at so many different levels.
From PEACE ON EARTH (All That You Can’t Leave Behind 2000)
Jesus can you take the time to throw a drowning man a line
(Peace on Earth)
Tell the ones who hear no sound whose sons are living in the ground
(Peace on Earth)
Jesus and the song you wrote, the words are sticking in my throat
(Peace on Earth)
Hear it every Christmas time,
But hope and history won’t rhyme
So what’s it worth – this peace on Earth?
Peace on Earth / Peace on Earth
There’s plenty more where they came from. Any others?