One Rerun

[This has become a bit of a photo blog lately, which I don't mind, but I decided to rerun a post I did over at Thinklings a few months ago about U2's masterpiece, "One." Truth be told, it's just an easy way to get a lot of words on the blog in an effort to break up the photos a bit. Incidentally, the post did cause a bit of a brouhaha in the comments thread at Thinklings because I likened Bono's live addendum to "One" as "the boldest speech to the Almighty this side of King David." Sure, I was being a wee bit hyperbolic, so I softened the language a tad in this rerun post.]

This afternoon I took the familiar three-hour trek from Waco to Houston to join my family for New Year's Eve celebrations. On the way to Space City I listened to a lot of music: worship, classical, 80s rock, and, of course, U2. Among other anthems, I enjoyed two versions of U2's quintessential track, "One." Since my with-child wife is fast asleep right now (it's 10 p.m.), I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog about my favorite song of all time.

I recall being in high school gym class in 1992 and being asked by a cohort of mine if I had heard the new U2 song, "One." I wasn't much of a U2 fan back then -- heck, I wasn't a U2 fan at all -- and I told him I hadn't heard it, and, frankly, I didn't care to listen to it (I didn't tell him that last part).

A few months later many of the popular kids showed up to school wearing U2 concert T-shirts, and a popular shirt had a big "ONE" printed down its back. Believe it or not, I wasn't one of the popular kids back in high school, and I didn't care to get into their fads, so I continued to shy away from U2.

Eventually I heard the song, and in time I would listen to the song more than any one piece of music ever. The song was my bridge to U2, and to what has been my enjoyment of, I believe, the best band in history.

Is it getting better, or do you feel the same ... The song starts out benign enough, and with its subtle, almost cryptic, lyrics it can't quite be pigeonholed into the love song genre, but it definitely has an almost romantic flavor to it. In an interview with Rolling Stone (circa 2004), Bono said that there's "a little of everything" in the song.

On a random message board about the song, one poster said, "Somehow this song defines the bitterness in me." I can almost agree. A large part of the song sounds austere: We're one, but we're not the same/We hurt each other, and we'll do it again, and I can't be holding on to what you got, when all you got is hurt ...

Thankfully, the mood of the song changes, and I believe the crescendo turns from pain to love: One love, one blood, one life/You got to do what you should/One life with each other/Sisters, brothers.

I've heard people pontificate about lost love, citing "One" as a crushing love song, and I've heard people talk about the song's motif revolving around a common thread of platonic affection for all humanity. I've even heard Vineyard worship leader, David Ruis, say that the song is a prophetic utterance to the church at large. I think they're all correct.

To be sure, the song encompasses a vast landscape of human emotion, and the lyrics paint an unembellished picture of human feeling. In the aforementioned interview with Rolling Stone, Bono recalled an invitation by the Dalai Lama to some sort of world peace/oneness gathering. Bono declined the invitation, scribbling a curt reply: "We're one, but we're not the same."

In just about all live performances of "One," Bono expands the lyrical canon of the song by singing out to God: Hear us coming, Lord/Hear us call/Hear us knocking, we're knocking at your door/Hear us coming, Lord/Hear us call/Hear us scratching/Did you make us crawl?. While the addendum may sound heretical to sensitive ears, I think it's some of the boldest speech to the Almighty this side of King David. If we're honest, I think we all wonder whether God makes us crawl at certain points in our lives. Indeed, I think He does.

When I saw U23D with my wife, Brandi, at an Austin IMAX theater a few months ago, I remember listening to the song, watching the band in 3D, with my heart beating like a drum. I could actually feel my heart rate increase as I listened to the song. When "One" was over, I turned to Brandi and said, simply, "I love that song." I do. I really do.

[Click here to read the lyrics to "One."]


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