A Band on a Mission

Dave Long 2010 /U2TOURFANS For his part, Bono makes it clear his praise is directed to a higher power. “They’re all, to me, songs of praise to God and creation, even the angry ones,” he told CNN

U2 is a band on a mission, and a strong sense of integrity and purpose is the foundation for their music, lyrics, and relationships. They’ve sold a gargantuan number of records (estimates range between 100 and 150 million), won many Grammy Awards, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In an industry where longevity is measured in months, the band has stuck together and racked up years’ worth of smash hits and signature songs.

Yet for all the celebrity hype, Bono retains a certain authenticity, a centeredness. “He seems humble,” people have commented during the last tour.

The 1987 release of The Joshua Tree (the band’s seventh album) catapulted U2 into the rock stratosphere. It brought together anthems of spiritual longing (“Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”) with haunting songs about U.S. foreign policy and oppression in Central and South America (“Bullet the Blue Sky,” “Mothers of the Disappeared”).

Beneath the Surface

Probing beneath the surface of both the songs and the band’s persona is key to understanding and appreciating their music. But attempts to neatly categorize the band as “Christian” or “secular” are doomed to failure. For example, on the one hand, U2 is led by a cigar-puffing rock-and-roll star with a fondness for drink and an occasionally foul mouth. On the other, its impressive catalogue of albums is drenched in Christian spirituality—with lyrics written by the self-same star.

Of the band’s four members, only bass player Adam Clayton does not profess a Christian faith. In the song “Acrobat,” Bono acknowledges his Christian tightrope act in the hedonistic world of rock and roll: “Yeah, I’d break bread and wine/ If there was a church I could receive in./ Cause I need it now/ To take the cup, to fill it up/ To drink it slow, I can’t let you go/ And I must be an acrobat/ To talk like this and act like that.”

The band also likes to juxtapose erotic love with agape love using lyrics that could refer either to a woman or to God. Consider “The End of the World,” a song about Judas’s betrayal of Jesus: “Last time we met/ Was a low-lit room/ We were as close together as a bride and groom/ We ate the food, we drank the wine/ Everybody having a good time /Except you, you were talking about the end of the world.”

Bono wears one set of wraparound sunglasses but many hats: acrobat, showman, rock star, songwriter. But the role of social activist is one he takes very seriously. Earlier this year, Bono told the Los Angeles Times, “I genuinely believe that second only to personal redemption, the most important thing in the Scriptures … refers to taking care of the world’s poor.”

That conviction crystallized in 1985, when Bono and his wife, Alison, worked in an Ethiopian orphanage in the midst of a famine. On their last day, a man handed Bono his baby son and asked if the rock star would take him so the child would survive. Bono turned him down. “It was a funny kind of sick feeling … a feeling I can’t ever quite forget,” Bono said.

Bono works tirelessly to make sure the rest of us don’t forget the twin scourges of poverty and AIDS in Africa. During the concert, he challenged Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to live up to a pledge to put more money toward foreign aid. As Martin’s office phone number was broadcast across huge screens, Bono urged concert-goers to pull out their cellphones. “We want to make poverty history! This is the year!” The phones’ display screens lit up the stadium like a galaxy of twinkling stars as their owners called their nation’s leader.

Chords of Hope

U2 strikes chords of hope and optimism—

Perhaps it gives God goosebumps to hear these Irish rockers touch millions with their music while acknowledging and praising his name, even as they wrestle with him on a very public stage. May Bono’s voice and U2’s music ring out for a long, long time to come.

Statements of Faith

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (from Joshua Tree)
I believe in the Kingdom Come,
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But yes I’m still running.
You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains.
Carried the cross and all my shame,
You know I believe it.
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

“Grace” (from All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that changed the world.
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stains.
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things.

Why IE9 is the Bono of browsers

When Microsoft unwrapped an early version of IE9 yesterday, it proved beyond doubt something we’ve suspected for a while: IE is the Bono of browsers.

The similarities between the Irish singer and a Windows web browser might not be immediately obvious, but they’re there.

In their early days U2 were underdogs, and no matter how good their records the critics would say “U2! You are rubbish! And your singer has a stupid name!”

Early IE was like that too. Netscape was the critical darling, and early IEs were greeted with derision.

Being underdogs suited U2. They made better and better records, got better and better at doing gigs, and eventually everything came together. U2 released The Joshua Tree, a brilliant album that conquered the planet.

It was the same with Microsoft. Internet Explorer 4 was its Joshua Tree

Massive Reporting on U2 Fan sites - We don’t get the reference -

U2: The Journey Toward Ascension (Part II)

Three Chords and the Truth (Part II)

By  Nikki Vanasse

Blackstone, MA


The Joshua Tree - Lo and behold, three years later the union of U2 and producers Eno and Lanois produce a work that to this day, defines the band.  U2 fans, young and old, diehard and casual, can’t seem to stop comparing the new music to this one album.  It’s quite controversial in that sense.  Hardcore fans never deny the power of The Joshua Tree, yet many more casual fans can’t stop hoping for a new version to drop each time something new is released by the band.  

This is U2 at their most serious, before embarking on a journey of self-parody.  Of course the obvious one to cite from this album is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t broach the obvious.  Let’s look at “Where the Streets Have No Name”, often interpreted to be a song about being on the road.  In churches throughout the country, it’s no doubt about heaven (“The city’s aflood/And our love turns to rust/We’re beaten and blown by the wind/Trampled in dust/I’ll show you a place/High on a desert plain/Where the streets have no name”).

This is the song that began the movement known as “U2-charist”, which sprinkled certain U2 songs throughout the service, mainly in an effort to keep the interest of the younger members, according to Deacon Charles Cannon of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Now, U2-charist happens all over the USA, UK, and Ireland.  

Rattle and Hum - On the heels of The Joshua Tree, Americana roots start to grow deep.  This is U2’s most obvious demonstration of Christianity.  Bono’s lyrics are much more explicit as opposed to the challenges of metaphor.  The word “love” could certainly be a placeholder for “God”.  “Love rescue me/come forth and speak to me/raise me up and don’t let me fall/no man is my enemy/my own hands imprison me/love, rescue me”.  

I see myself as part of an arm-waving congregation on a beautiful Sunday morning, looking for the answers.  Salvation is at hand with the Dylan-esque song that Bono says he didn’t really write, but “remembered” the song from a dream he had in which Bob Dylan sang it.  He believed it to be a Dylan song to the extent that he asked the man himself if it was indeed his (Into The Heart: The stories behind every U2 Song, Niall Stokes).  

It should also be noted that when Bono had this dream, it was sleep induced by plenty of drink, and ended in a massive hangover. Of course after The Joshua Tree, U2 couldn’t seem to get away from the constant scrutiny of when they would put out another “Joshua Tree”.  It is also around this time, shortly after Rattle and Hum, that the boys had to “just go away and dream it all up again.

Achtung Baby - Enter Achtung Baby.  Arguably celebrated as “the second coming”.  And not alot of people liked it when it was first released.  The people who were stuck on The Joshua Tree, are now stuck on Achtung Baby.  Except me.  But I should also tell you that I’m in the minority of fans who flipped over POP and think No Line on the Horizon is right up there with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby.  For me, those three albums form sort of a “holy Trinity” of U2, if you will.  

This is historic on a couple of different levels:  the band reinvents themselves in a MAJOR way, and the Berlin Wall falls while U2 is in-state recording.  They’re in Berlin recording this album to give them a little inspiration.  Well, it worked.  Turns out the crumbling of the wall is very symbolic of U2 at this time.  It was the toughest period in the band’s life since October, only now they’re struggling with just how relevant they may or may not be.  Marital discord and other types of friction are right in front of our eyes, but again, the lyrical construction gives way to many different meanings.  Oh yeah.  And there’s a lot of sex here, too.  

Betrayal, love, morality, spirituality, and faith are all ingredients you’ll find in the Holy Scriptures, but oddly enough most of these songs could also tell a tale of infidelity, sex, and the guilt that goes with it.  It’s what I find most fascinating about Bono’s lyrics.

I hear God in every one of these songs.  Let’s choose one.  “Until the End of the World” finds Judas and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  BAM!  Betrayal.  Only this time Bono uses the illustration of the most well known case of betrayal to sum up what’s going on in the band, which is why I find it most interesting.  “We were as close together as a bride and groom/We ate the food, we drank the wine/Everybody having a good time/Except you/You were talking about the end of the world”.

Growing up Catholic, the “bride and groom” references always illustrated the connection between God and people, priest and church.  As I mentioned earlier on, the word “love” is often a substitute for God.

Look, I gotta go, I’m runnin’ outta change.  Up next, humanity gets lost in the blur of life with Zooropa.

1987: Bullet the blue sky

"Bullet the Blue Sky" is the fourth track from U2's 1987 album, The Joshua . Although never released as a single, "Bullet the Blue Sky" has been played at nearly every one of the band's live concerts since its first performance at the opening night of the Joshua Tree Tour on April 2, 1987. The song is one of the band's most overtly politically toned songs, with live performances often being heavily critical of war and guns.
Amazing when you think about the fact that they released this ablum as a CD and it jumped way up in sales.

Bullet The Blue Sky

This song has been played at the following 646 shows on the Joshua Tree Tour

Bullet The Blue Sky lyrics

In the howling wind comes a stinging rain
See it driving nails
Into the souls on the tree of pain
From the firefly, a red orange glow
See the face of fear
Running scared in the valley below

Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue
Bullet the blue

In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum
Jacob wrestled the angel
And the angel was overcome
You plant a demon seed
You raise a flower of fire
See them burning crosses
See the flames higher and higher

Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue
Bullet the blue

This guy comes up to me
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush
Like all the colors of a royal flush
And he's peeling off those dollar bills
Slapping them down
One hundred, two hundred
And I can see those fighter planes
And I can see those fighter planes
Across the mud huts where the children sleep
Through the alleys of a quiet city street
You take the staircase to the first floor
Turn the key and slowly unlock the door
As a man breathes into a saxophone
And through the walls you hear the city groan
Outside is America
Outside is America

Across the field you see the sky ripped open
See the rain through a gaping wound
Pounding on the women and children
Who run
Into the arms
Of America