I know it’s seriously uncool to like U2, (that’s why here’s a video from Mumford & Sons) I know the thought of another Christian churning out some more theories on the band and their songs makes most people want to run in the other direction, I know there is nothing some Christians like more than declaring their views on Bono’s state of heart before the Lord. To be honest I get bored myself with the over analysis.
With that caveat aside I find myself again plunging into their back catalogue. In a Christian subculture starved of ways to express the experiences of everyday long term slog living, starved of songs of lament, frustration and boredom, songs of joyful exuberance and songs that speak of the reality of being human, U2 go someway to filling the gap. There are others out there who are more cool, Mumford & Sons also have excellent lyrics that express being human and trying to relate to there being a God in this world.
There are others who produce deeply enriching music, music that worms it’s way into my soul and reminds me of a bigger world. To know we are not alone is an essential part of being human, to know we aren’t the only one who thinks our thoughts, who struggles with our struggles and who sees sunsets in a similar way is part of the joy of being human. Common experience does something deep inside us. Standing in Hyde Park singing along with thousands of others to the songs of Blur last summer took me to a place other things rarely do. It is not good for us to be alone. Ray Lamontage, Martyn Joseph, Bruce Springsteen, Damien Rice, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and many more speak truth about human experience that makes me feel less alone in this world.
And so to U2, whilst I would love to expound my theory of each triplet of albums in their career I’ll leave that to some U2 geeks and stick to the point. Which was? Ah, yes, the point is, these guys make songs that express some of normal life lived in a universe where there is a God, who we don’t understand, who we sometimes want to praise and sometimes want to shout at. Songs like ‘Wake up Dead Man’ and ‘Peace on Earth’ lament for this broken world we live in. ‘Yahweh’ speaks of the longing for transformation. ‘Somedays are better than others’ speaks simple truth that today might be a crap day, but tomorrow might well be different. Something I have yet to really grasp how to really live out.
What are your songs that remind you of the real world out there? What songs remind you that you are not alone in this world? What songs are the songs of your journey through life that encourage you to keep believing there is more to this world than meets the eye? I find most of these songs aren’t in the traditional vein of ‘Christian’ music but in the hints and suggestions and things unsaid of the genres that aren’t classified as ‘religious’ in my itunes library.