I Have Spoke With The Tongue Of Angels

You broke the bonds and You loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Took my shame
Took the blame
You know I believe it
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

The message, the music, and the passion of this song will never get old:


The more you know the less you feel
Some pray for, others steal
Blessings not just for the ones who kneel ... luckily
-- U2, "City of Blinding Lights"

That's one of my favorite lines from U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb classic, "City of Blinding Lights." I've always thought that last line was one of the best layman's definitions of Common Grace I've ever heard. Speaking of Common Grace, click here for a few thoughts on an October night four years ago.

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."]

Hello, Hello

The U2 tour started in Barcelona yesterday. Kudos to Sha for G-Talking me the set list while he was getting live Twitter feeds. The Irish boys lean heavily on songs from their new album, which is, I think, an affirmation of their greatness. Most bands that have been around for more than 30 years would take the opportunity to be playing their greatest hits, not new and relevant songs from their latest album. U2 is amazing. I can't wait to hear U2 wrap up its Houston show with "Moment of Surrender."

Osaka Sun On The Horizon

Tomorrow is a holiday of sorts. At least it'll feel that way since U2's new album No Line on the Horizon releases tomorrow. I'll have to turn my iPod away from Coldplay for the time being. I've been absolutely addicted to Coldplay's Viva La Vida, especially the track, "Lovers in Japan." Here's my favorite line from that track:

Tonight maybe we're gonna run
Dreaming of the Osaka sun
Ohh ohh...
Dreaming of when the morning comes

Something about that really resonates with me. I honestly have no idea what it is, it's something. The song is amazing.




Now that there's a deadline on the horizon for U2's forthcoming studio release, No Line on the Horizon, I've often caught myself thinking back to a warm October night in 2005 when me, my brother, my sister, and three of our friends saw U2 live at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The night was extra special because were able to be on the front row, about five feet or so from The Edge throughout the entire concert. As my brother said when it was all over, "It was like U2 played a private concert for us." Yes, it felt just like that.

With the exception of a my personal salvation, my wedding and vows renewal with my wife, and the births of our three children, that evening was, without a doubt, the most profound and enjoyable life experience I've ever had.

I'm thinking about trying to write some more about that night with the idea that I might post it on Thinklings, but for now I'm just happy basking in the warm memories.

Above all, that night was a spiritual experience, especially the last half hour or so of the concert. I'll never forget the grace poured out that evening.

The more you know the less you feel
Some pray for others steal
Blessings not just for the ones who kneel ... luckily
-- U2, from "City of Blinding Lights"

"Those little girls are a pest ..."

How the screaming changes when the meaning hits your ears
-- King's X

The unfortunate, and sometimes downright ingenious, thing about U2 is that their song titles often look ridiculous on the surface, until you understand what the song is actually about.

A case in point would be "Mofo" from the Pop album. I remember, circa 1996, hearing from my brother about the title of the song and thinking it was a little weird. Then 11/28/97 came around, and Brandi and I saw U2 at the Astrodome during the Popmart tour. I'll never forget that funky bass/guitar intro thing going on as Bono took the stage dressed as a heavy weight fighter while belting out the opening lyrics to "Mofo":

lookin' for to save my save my soul
lookin' in the places where no flowers grow
lookin' for to fill that GOD shaped hole

mother mother sucking rock and roll

My opinion of "Mofo" changed that evening. I also recall later reading an interview where Bono said something like if he had ever put his whole life into a song, it was "Mofo." The song is obviously about his mother, who died when he was a boy, and his attempts to fill the void left in his life after her death. Yes, the screaming changed when the meaning hit my ears.

Another example from the same album would be "The Playboy Mansion," which is, essentially, a song about materialism, and not a salutation to the licentious residence of ill repute.

Anyway, the point of this post was to point to a song Bono wrote for his then-prego wife, Ali: "Big Girls Are Best." Now that Brandi is with child, I chuckle every time I listen to this line:

She's elliptical, also political
Also spiritual, not superficial
Yeah, she's tropical
Yes, she's illogical
Those little girls are a pest
Big girls are the best

Brandi's pregnancy is showing a little bit, but the "big girl" phase is just around the corner. That's always a fun time, especially when you can feel the baby swirling around inside there by putting your hand on her stomach.

Yeah, she's tropical. Yes, she's illogical ...

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