Author Topic: Drowning Man - who is who?  (Read 189 times)

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Online laoghaire

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Drowning Man - who is who?
« on: November 10, 2018, 11:46:21 AM »
There's an old thread here where most people seemed to think Drowning Man was a romantic song, and a few thought it was a friendship song.

I always used to think it was a friendship song. The Drowning Man in the title could be the singer, but I always thought it was the person the singer is addressing. So I slways heard it as Bono singing to a man, a friend, in need of help.

But in the last year I've changed my mind on that. I now think that the singer is singing God's words to a man in need of help - not man to man but God to man.

Who do you think the singer is and who do you think the singer addresses in this song?



Offline Tortuga

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 12:11:59 PM »
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There's an old thread here where most people seemed to think Drowning Man was a romantic song, and a few thought it was a friendship song.

I always used to think it was a friendship song. The Drowning Man in the title could be the singer, but I always thought it was the person the singer is addressing. So I slways heard it as Bono singing to a man, a friend, in need of help.

But in the last year I've changed my mind on that. I now think that the singer is singing God's words to a man in need of help - not man to man but God to man.

Who do you think the singer is and who do you think the singer addresses in this song?

Eamon Dunphy book claimed it was Adam


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Online laoghaire

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2018, 08:20:06 PM »
Ok. So who is singing to Adam? Is this an entreaty from God or a show of support from his mate?

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 08:53:44 PM »
Its been a long time since I read the book but my recollection is that it was Bono telling him about God.  The “I” would be God.  But of course that’s just maybe the starting point of his inspiration.  Maybe it became several different things before he even finished the song.  I think it could be anyone talking to anyone else.


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Online Travis Henderson

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2018, 06:58:07 AM »
Yeah.  I interpret it to being the "I" is God, through Bono's voice, singing to Adam.  Although, the latter connection I didn't first get until a few years ago after reading about the song.  Bono, Edge, Larry were (still are) devout Christians and Adam was not (at least at the time of the song).  Plus, Adam struggled with drinking problems.  God, through Bono's voice, is telling Adam to "take my hand, you know I'll be there".  "Hold on tightly and don't let go of my love".  Interestingly, Bono switches to third person briefly near the end of the song - "His love will last, his love will last forever".  But then quickly returns to the "I".

If memory serves, there something to do with a verse from Isaiah from the Bible.  But I can't remember where I read that.

But as Tortuga said the song could also be about anyone speaking to anyone.  In my mind (as a different take from the Adam angle), especially the latter anyone who is hurt and needs help, love, understanding.  Someone who has been wounded by evilness in life and is struggling to overcome the pain.  Someone who's life has been ruined by this evilness.

It's a great song.  If any meaning is derived, it is one of hope and love against the evil in this world.  At least, that's my take.

Like so many U2 songs there are various ways to interpret them.  But that is what makes U2's music beautiful.

Online laoghaire

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2018, 07:12:26 AM »
I thought the lyric was "this love will last forever" (rather than "his"). I think that was the very line that made me reconsider the subject of the song.

Online Travis Henderson

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2018, 07:16:23 AM »
Yeah, you're right.  I got it wrong.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2018, 07:33:04 AM »
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Yeah, you're right.  I got it wrong.

I sure wouldn’t swear that it hasn’t been both from time to time.  This Love, His Love.  The original recording is just a starting point.  Make it your own!


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Online laoghaire

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2018, 07:45:38 AM »
Yup, I could easily see Bono singing "His love..." too.

If it was Adam, I wonder how he felt being proselytized to.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2018, 10:50:18 AM »
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Yup, I could easily see Bono singing "His love..." too.

If it was Adam, I wonder how he felt being proselytized to.
This question makes a great point.  How to be a Christian without being religious.  The song merely speaks of unconditional love.  No dogma.  That takes it outside the realm of evangelism and inside the realm of compassion.


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Online laoghaire

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2018, 11:09:03 AM »
Oh, I like that.

OTOH it can be annoying for athiests to have believers try to convince you to take God's hand, or what have you. A believer is seeing a problem to be fixed and the non-believer is like, dude, I'm fine, go work on your own relationship with God and leave me out of it.

But if anyone could pull it off, it's Bono. He really does lead with the love and not with the "you need to change."

Blessings! Not just for the ones who kneel! Luckily :)

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2018, 11:18:44 AM »
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Oh, I like that.

OTOH it can be annoying for athiests to have believers try to convince you to take God's hand, or what have you. A believer is seeing a problem to be fixed and the non-believer is like, dude, I'm fine, go work on your own relationship with God and leave me out of it.

But if anyone could pull it off, it's Bono. He really does lead with the love and not with the "you need to change."

Blessings! Not just for the ones who kneel! Luckily :)

I’ve always seen it as something offered to those who need it.  If a Christian is acting in love they they’re not engaging in selling a product to someone who doesn’t need it.  They have missed the point, the “religion” is the means to an end, not the end itself.


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Online laoghaire

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2018, 12:13:10 PM »
What do you mean by that last sentence?

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Re: Drowning Man - who is who?
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2018, 02:30:52 PM »
Nevermind, I think I was confused by the previous sentence, which is a Christian acting in love, being followed by the last sentence, which I think is a Christian acting in dogma.

That difference right there is a very tough one. The letter vs the spirit.