Sunday, March 8, 2009

U2 on a Sunday

I know I'm probably the last one in the blogosphere to comment on U2's new release. It takes me awhile with U2. They are so idosyncratic as a group that your ear takes awhile to make sense of what it is that you're listening to. My friend, Scott Hagley, thinks this is why their music sticks with you, doesn't end up in the pile of sings you used to listen to. I'll go with that.

So, for me the jury is still out on the musical achievement. But again I feel myself comfortable in the horizon of their lyrical world. This cd is more shot through with specific biblical or theological allusions. You don't have to wonder whether or not there are biblical or theological overtones. They are right on the surface. This is a mixed bag for me because I think explicit references in a pop format can trivialize both the reference and the pop format. On the plus side, its not hard for me to find my bearings.

The faith on display here is no easy belief. The world is dark and God is not an obvious certainty gleaned from the facts on the ground. This is a grainy place to make out a clear picture. This does not, however, keep these songs from some beautiful pictures. Love that heals. Forgiveness where forgiveness is not. Magnificence. Joy and celebration. It is simultaneously realisitc and hopeful. Where else could joy spring from?

And there are moments of conversion. Life and faith are not all settled at once. This thing is hills and valleys. And the atm, the gaze of a stranger, and other ordinary places are also at the edge of the known universe. Every moment bears a transcendent possibility. I like that.

And I like that its all sensual, that sometimes you can't tell if they're singing about God or a woman.

So, today its a day with U2. Did I tell you that I met The Edge? He was at a Starbucks in Malibu a few years ago. We walked out at the same time (I timed it perfectly). I held the door for him, and he said...wait for it...wait for it..."thank you." So, then we're walking toward our cars and I'm trying to think of something to say without sounding like an idiot. So, finally the words tumbled out of my mouth, "Hey, thanks for what you do." He smiled at me and said, wait for it... "thanks, have a great day."

I am thankful for what they do.

From "Magnificent"

I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
Justified till we die
You and I will magnify
The Magnificant.


Cheryl Russell said...

Your "conversation" with The Edge made me laugh! I am a U2 fan and look forward to having some time to sit down with the new album, lyrics in hand.

thepriesthood said...

yeah, I've connected with this album much more quickly than I did with Vertigo. I'm really digging it.

Funny, some reviewers read those lyrics from Magnificent (i.e. "I was born to sing for you") as an arrogant song that Bono wrote to his fans, thus betraying a very naive and presumptuous understanding of Bono. If arrogance is what you're looking for, it can easily be found. And I think, especially in this album, the same holds true for finding God stuff.

enjoyed the review.