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November 26, 2010

3

Silenced by U2’s Miss Sarajevo… in Sarajevo

by quaesitor

As a bit of change for the last night of the Bosnia conference here, I gave my seminar on U2.

And as I was doing a bit of rejigging and final prep on it, I realised it was absolutely appropriate to include Miss Sarajevo at the end of the set list. (This (right) is the view from my desk as I was adding words to the song’s video).

During the talk there had been quite a bit of interaction and discussion – some sceptical of the general points I was making (inevitably!), some amazed by some of the content of songs they thought were familiar but which they’d never listened to closely.

But when we closed with the Miss Sarajevo video, there was stunned silence. Most knew the song. Few had seen the video. And as you can see if you watch it below (especially the last minute or so), it is agonising to watch. There was stunned silence and reflection, having been forced to reflect on the horrors of the siege. It was almost too painful.

For the unfamiliar, the song is about a Beauty Pageant that took place in 1993, while the shells and bombs fell all around. It is thus a potent symbol of the semblance of normal, peaceful life in the midst of war. Worst of all was the image of the girls lined up in the parade holding up a sign in English for all the world to see:

Don’t Let Them Kill Us

It’s a very simple song, essentially a series of questions. And interestingly, of all the songs he’s written, Bono says this is his favourite…

Is there a time for keeping your distance
A time to turn your eyes away?
Is there a time for keeping your head down
For getting on with your day?

Is there a time for kohl and lipstick?
Is there time for cutting hair?
Is there a time for high street shopping
To find the right dress to wear?

Here she comes, heads turn around
Here she comes, to take her crown.

Is there a time to run for cover
A time for kiss and tell.
A time for different colours
Different names you find hard to spell.

Is there a time for first communion
A time for East 17
Is there time to turn to Mecca
Is there time to be a beauty queen.

Here she comes, beauty plays the clown
Here she comes, surreal in her crown.

[Pavarotti’s Italian bit]
Dici che il fiume // Trova la via al mare (You say that the river finds the way to the sea)
E come il fiume // Giungerai a me (and like the river you will come to me)
Oltre i confini // E le terre assetate (beyond the borders and the dry lands)
Dici che come il fiume // Come il fiume…
L’amore giunger // L’amore… (You say that like a river the love will come)
E non so pi pregare (And i don’t know how to pray anymore)
E nell’amore non so pi sperare (and in love i don’t know how to hope anymore)
E quell’amore non so pi aspettare (and for that love i don’t know how to wait anymore)

Is there a time for tying ribbons
A time for Christmas trees?
Is there a time for laying tables
When the night is set to freeze?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 28 2010

    I’m having trouble viewing the video – message reads “This video contains content from UMG – It is resticted from playback on certain sites”. I’m able to watch it on YouTube, but without the lyrics. I was hoping to play it with the lyrics at church on Sunday – are you able to send me the file?
    Thanks so much for introducing me to this song and giving me lots to ponder.

    Reply
    • Nov 29 2010

      Hi Matt
      thanks for the comment – i’m afraid the video is not embedded only a link from youtube. I only added the words in a Keynote presentation – and the file for that is VAST!
      So i’m afraid the simplest thing is to download the video from youtube directly – if have a Mac and use the Mactubes app. Not sure what to suggest if you have windows – but a google search should help you find something quickly
      mark

      Reply
  2. Dec 1 2010

    Thanks for the reply Mark,
    Have downloaded from youtube and prob just go without the lyrics.
    Love your blog btw!
    MATT

    Reply

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