U2: The Journey Toward Ascension (Part III)

Three Chords and the Truth (Part III)

By  Nikki Vanasse

Blackstone, MA


Zooropa - From the opening crescendo of “Zooropa”, I was hooked.  Quite possibly my all time favorite.  I have goosebumps right now just listening to that opening song.  This is my fifth listen today.  No holding back, “She’s gonna dream out loud”.  I was most impressed with the fact that the band was bearing to the left at each musical fork in the road as time went on.  

We still move further away into new territory with Zooropa; we keep moving forward from Achtung Baby. Yet, the message hasn’t changed.  SOUNDS different, but  it’s the same message.  Even though this album IS about them, we still have the underlying universal message of hope where redemption and salvation are concerned.  Because Zooropa is a tale of excesses, particularly that of the media.  We need to be saved from the bombardment of media images and messages.  

Of Zooropa, Bono states that there is something in the New Testament “which says that the spirit moves and no one knows where it comes from or where it’s going.  It’s like a wind.  I’ve always felt that way about my faith.  That’s why on Zooropa I say I’ve got no religion.  Because I believe that religion is the enemy of God.  Because it denies the spontaneity of the spirit and the almost anarchistic nature of the spirit.” AMEN, Bono!  “Some days you feel like a bit of a baby/lookin’ for Jesus and his mother/some days are better than others”.

Another turn inside, to Jesus, in “Some Days Are Better Than Others”.  If Johnny Cash doesn’t convince you that he’s a preacher on “The Wanderer”, you better turn it up and listen again.  Another work born this time from The Book of Ecclesiastes about a preacher who sets off on a journey to gain experience and knowledge of whatever he encounters.  Open to the flow of life.  And if you ever listened to this record piped through headphones at a decent decibel level, the alarm at the end of the record will WAKE YOU UP.  And that’s deliberate.

Pop - This is when it got ugly with God.  The parody that began with Zooropa goes full-blown with Pop. Unlike Achtung Baby, Pop was highly regarded when first released only to quickly tarnish.  Bono once said, “It’s stasis that kills you off in the end, not ambition.” So regardless of what you might think about Pop, the truth is, they continued to take risks rather than play it safe.  

In all its glitzy-ness, the message is that the glitz of the human experience isn’t enough to satisfy us. We are living in times when instant gratification and an “all we can eat” culture is exploding.  “Gone” is probably the best example of that idea.  “You get to feel so guilty/Got so much for so little/Then you find that feeling/Just won’t go away/You’re holding on to every little thing so tightly/’Til there’s nothing left for you anyway.”  

Now this album, as shrouded in metaphor as it is, yields its share of prayer, Jesus, and God.  When the prayers aren’t answered, the singer feels he’s been cut off, “God has got his phone off the hook” (“If God Will Send His Angels”).  He even goes a step further in “Wake Up, Dead Man”, which is definitely not a nice song.  You just know that Jesus isn’t answering fast enough, “Jesus, I’m waiting here boss/I know you’re looking out for us/But maybe your hands aren’t free”.  The song captures a moment in time that can yet again be incredibly relevant 12 years later.

The world’s gone crazy, and we’re all wondering where God is at the moment.  “Wake Up, Dead Man” is a call or even can be as bold as a command for God to reveal himself and take notice.

After the ups (Achtung Baby) and the downs (Pop) of the 90’s, the excesses seemed to be purging from the band.   Music IS their religion; their version of prayer.  

Up next:  the stripping down of U2 and God re-connects his phone line.

In case you have missed the first two parts tw following links can take you back to the start

  • The Journey Towards Ascension, part I and part II 
  • Or you can click on the top of the page search tool and review many of the storie deails