Author Topic: It's hard to listen while you preach  (Read 452 times)

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Offline ToRontoRon

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Re: It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2018, 11:32:23 AM »
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I think the difference is that I donít believe song lyrics or poetry are intended be interpreted legalistically.  Whether its grammer or something like this they donít need to be ďcorrectĒ.  Thatís for essays and news stories.  Its the looseness and fuzziness that makes it art instead of journalism.


What does "grammar" have to do with it?  I've listened to U2's music and read Bono's lyrics for close to 40 yrs. now.  And I know for a fact Bono doesn't usually play too loose with his lyrics or his "grammar". In fact, I think he devotes more time to his lyrics than the music itself.  He always has some reason for wording things a certain way.  I think the OP is justified in wanting to understand that particular lyric.

I believe the OP's first interpretation of the song is correct - "I love EBW and interpret it as an offer to heal a very damaged relationship. Two people, probably in a marriage, who have hurt each other but still love each other - and can't seem to stop being pulled into conflict. An offer to surrender".

For the lyric in question:

"I thought I heard the Captain's voice - it's hard to listen while you preach"

I think the "Captain" in this case is God and the "you" in this case is Bono.  Bono is self deprecating on purpose here.  From my research into the song and reading various things about it, I came upon a reference to Hebrews 2:10 where Jesus is called the "captain of our salvation." And Bono selectively uses the word "preach" which is obviously religious in nature.  Which seems to point to Bono referring to something like the Hebrews 2:10 verse. Bono is basically pointing the "you" at himself and is saying that in his endeavors to do good, he has occasionally not made time to listen to his "Captain" (God) or spend time with God. He is basically admitting his fault in the relationship communication process since he has not spent enough time with God.  Spending time with God in this context is critical to the healing of a broken relationship.

The song, in fact, is very religious. It's a surrender to God and to the soul. In the Bible, ocean or water symbolizes soul.  There is a need to drown in the ocean as a way of release and peace. Chasing every breaking wave means struggling to do something with force instead of ease.  And letting go and just flowing is much easier, to stop chasing what is not chasing us, to let go and flow with what is meant to come to us naturally (love to each other). The theme is very transcendental - the spiritual importance of each other's soul.  And the spiritual importance of working together in a relationship, in order to make it work through the hard times.

In my opinion that is what it's about.  Yeah, maybe one can continue to argue that art is "looseness and fuzziness" but knowing Bono, I doubt that's the case here. 

Wow!  I never even considered that the Captain is God, and the "you" in question is Bono, but it fits perfectly.  That's quite the first ever post on this site, I Fall Down.  Welcome, but you've now set the bar pretty high for future posts.

Offline Amrice78

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Re: It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2018, 12:24:48 PM »
The Captain is most certainly God and Iíve always taken the Ďyouí in this line as Bono. Bono is known by supporters and critics alike as someone who can preach. He can get up on his so soapbox, mostly in a good way, but I think he is self aware enough to know that he could shut up once in awhile and listen, lol

I Fall Down

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Re: It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2018, 12:26:09 PM »
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But there is a difference between finding that meaning for yourself and falling on your sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  It really doesnít matter if thatís what Bono had in mind at all.


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It really DOES matter what Bono had in mind when crafting a song.  U2 are not the "usual" rock band.  For die-hard fans they are everything.  No one has the right to deny these fans of digging deep and trying to understand what Bono had in mind.  U2's music is art and with art it is always the case to try to understand what the artist had in mind with their work.  The lyrics of U2's songs are poetry and understanding the poetry writer's intent is everything.  You can't just dismiss that fact.  There's a depth to it that can't be ignored.  Bono doesn't randomly create lyrics for mass consumption.  There is always something there to find in his lyrics and to discover what his intent was.  Nobody is falling on their sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  That's foolish to say.

Offline Luzita

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It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2018, 02:43:57 PM »
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But there is a difference between finding that meaning for yourself and falling on your sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  It really doesnít matter if thatís what Bono had in mind at all.


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It really DOES matter what Bono had in mind when crafting a song.  U2 are not the "usual" rock band.  For die-hard fans they are everything.  No one has the right to deny these fans of digging deep and trying to understand what Bono had in mind.  U2's music is art and with art it is always the case to try to understand what the artist had in mind with their work.  The lyrics of U2's songs are poetry and understanding the poetry writer's intent is everything.  You can't just dismiss that fact.  There's a depth to it that can't be ignored.  Bono doesn't randomly create lyrics for mass consumption.  There is always something there to find in his lyrics and to discover what his intent was.  Nobody is falling on their sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  That's foolish to say.
As far as what Bono had in mind, he has said that EBW is about committing to a relationship instead of chasing after other relationships ó after every breaking wave that comes along. It is about he and Ali deciding to devote themselves to one another.


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« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 03:18:20 PM by Luzita »

Offline laoghaire

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Re: It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2018, 02:57:51 PM »
<Shrug> I like to analyze stuff and you know that, Tortuga.

And you like to post on my analytical little threads. Maybe because they annoy you but I think you like analyzing stuff too. I suppose we could debate the merits of guyliner or beanies vs cowboy hats, but I like this better.

I'm not falling on the sword of What Bono Meant. I spent very little time on that, actually. (Father, maybe). I just had tried to see if it could make sense, and when I failed at that, I crowd-sourced some ideas. "Grammar doesn't matter to a lyricist" didn't really inspire me but "it's a quote from a third party you doofus" did the trick. It might not even be What Bono Meant but it makes sense so I'm happy.

Anyway, chances are good I'll drag some other lyric out for another autopsy some time. I could post hot mullet pictures but Monica and her hormones are long gone and the board is pretty quiet. I don't really want to spend a bunch of time explaining on every Lyric Autopsy Thread that I like to analyze, and I'm not upset, losing sleep, clutching pearls, yanking at my tie, or popping blood pressure pills about it. My writing style is a lot more dramatic than I actually am, though it certainly does accurately reflect my navel gazing lifestyle, including the character count I have devoted to this damn post.

So, with all that said, I don't plan to say it again.

Offline Tortuga

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It's hard to listen while you preach
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2018, 03:58:28 PM »
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But there is a difference between finding that meaning for yourself and falling on your sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  It really doesnít matter if thatís what Bono had in mind at all.


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It really DOES matter what Bono had in mind when crafting a song.  U2 are not the "usual" rock band.  For die-hard fans they are everything.  No one has the right to deny these fans of digging deep and trying to understand what Bono had in mind.  U2's music is art and with art it is always the case to try to understand what the artist had in mind with their work.  The lyrics of U2's songs are poetry and understanding the poetry writer's intent is everything.  You can't just dismiss that fact.  There's a depth to it that can't be ignored.  Bono doesn't randomly create lyrics for mass consumption.  There is always something there to find in his lyrics and to discover what his intent was.  Nobody is falling on their sword over ďthatís what Bono had in mindĒ.  That's foolish to say.

Absolutely I enjoy analyzing too.  I just donít feel the need to nail down every little inconsistency.  As for whether not its important to know what Bono meant, I suppose that depends on how you are approaching it.  I donít view any artist as a prophet (and not saying anyone here does either).  I see a lyric as a jumping off point for me to explore my own ideas and apply to my own life experience.  Sometimes that means exploring what was behind the artistís thoughts or inspiration and sometimes I might enjoy doing that.  But understanding that is rarely ever my driving objective. 

There is no right or wrong to any of this.  We all do whatever we do because it is what is meaningful to us.  But the fact that Bono writes meaningful thoughtful lyrics doesnít dictate that the only way thinking people approach them is by trying to figure out what he meant....which by the way is a moving target even for him.  Iíve heard him switch his story about why he wrote what he wrote over the years.  THAT is the nature of art, and I suppose part of why I donít like trying to nail down the meaning of a lyric to just one concept, e.g. what you think Bono had in mind.  Iím not sure he even knows that in every case.  Do you think he had some concrete concept in mind when he wrote the lyrics to UF or 4th of July?  Does it matter?  Often I donít want to know what he was thinking because it kind of closes off my mind to thinking about it many different ways...once Iíve heard Bonoís explanation all the mystery is gone and that explanation is the only one I can get from it.


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« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 04:37:37 PM by Tortuga »