Author Topic: With Or Without You  (Read 8427 times)

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Offline TheFly

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With Or Without You
« on: November 29, 2008, 06:47:19 AM »
Inspired by another thread discussing the use of pronouns in the song. A few comments have said it's about a discussion with God.

Bono said somewhere (can anybody remember where?) that the song is about possession and obsession.



Offline Malachi

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2008, 04:43:09 AM »
I think this song Is another one of those.    The song Means many things to many people. Everyone has A different interpritation. Mabye Bono Doesn't really know Himself.

I think the Songs about A Woman and God.    No reason why a song can't be about to things.


A brilliant Song though.

Offline aarond

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2009, 11:09:52 AM »
Bono has said (accurately I think) that their songs take on meaning based what happens after a song comes out. I'm thinking of some ATYCLB songs in relation to 9/11...but there are other examples.

Offline Aburrow

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2009, 12:13:39 PM »
I've read many comments about the meaning of this song, most of them from Bono himself, but when I listen to the track, I realize I have no idea what it's about. The possibilities are endless. In that sense, it's the ultimate U2 song.

Offline Joe90usa

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2009, 01:01:27 PM »
Bono tends to write songs about very specific things but word them in a very universal way. He's stated that this is a key to making songs timeless. So his goal is to leave plenty of room for interpretation by the listener in most cases.

Offline DGordon1

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2009, 02:08:54 PM »
I think that's one of the great strengths of Bono's lyricism. He writes in such a way that almost anyone can relate to U2's songs. You never feel isolated, or like an outsider looking in.

Offline evel12314

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 05:34:01 PM »
This song always reminded me of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The themes fit perfectly. Romeo and Juliet cannot be "with" each other because of their feuding families, but they cannot be "without" each other because they are so in love. Hence, "I can't live with or without you."

The extra verse sung in the live version makes the comparison even more relevant. It sums up the entire idea of Romeo and Juliet.

"We'll shine like stars in the summer night,
We'll shine like stars in the winter night.
One heart, one hope, one love,
With or without you."

In the Slane DVD, there is even a star chart on the giant screen behind the band. Stars are a recurring motif throughout the play.

"Star-crossed lovers..."

"Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp."
-Romeo, II.ii.15-21

"Come gentle night; come, loving black-browed night,
Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."
-Juliet, III.ii. 21-27

 :)

Sydney_Mike

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2009, 03:08:33 AM »
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The extra verse sung in the live version makes the comparison even more relevant. It sums up the entire idea of Romeo and Juliet.

"We'll shine like stars in the summer night,
We'll shine like stars in the winter night.
One heart, one hope, one love,
With or without you."


I adore this additional verse, but see the biblical references rather than Romeo & Juliet. Bono often sings the first line as "shine like stars in the universe", which is directly from Phillipians 2:16, where Paul urges the Phillipians to stop arguing with each other and display a more loving approach that sets a good example.

The third verse is pretty much another direct quote, this time from 1 Corinthians 13. This a passage all about the aspects or attributes of love and a regular favourtite for those getting married. It concludes with "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love". So for me this is a song about love and how it triumphs over all things.

Offline u2sbs3

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2009, 12:25:47 AM »
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Inspired by another thread discussing the use of pronouns in the song. A few comments have said it's about a discussion with God.

Bono said somewhere (can anybody remember where?) that the song is about possession and obsession.


I think it was in U2 by U2. I always took this song to be about an affair. When lust and love cross lines and you don't know what it is that you really want. But who knows maybe Bono was talking about the struggles he and the band were having with embracing their inner 'rockstars,' there sure was alot of that going on in the 80s.

You know with MacPhisto, Bono turned that song into an old standard with this washed up cabaret singer persona, and yet it seemed to carry on the storyline of the struggling lovers in Achtung Baby. There's just such a power to the lyric. How it whispers out of nowhere and brings immediately into this silent film of sorts. The imagery of the lyric is so strong that you have characters in a situation that need no dialogue - the anguish, disgust, heartache, frustration, desire, hope, and resignation is all their under the covers, so to speak.

Offline MASTER YODA

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2014, 07:05:16 PM »
Greatest U2 song ever!

Offline bondylan

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 10:58:44 PM »
Bono is fascinated with duality spiritual ,physical  flesh, spirit black, white good, evil (etc)The battle between self love and sacrificial love is a theme I see here  there are also strong images of the crucifixion of Christ with the( she )being the world, for God so loved  the world he gave his only begotten son (give yourself away)that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life (Shine like stars)!
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 11:53:18 PM by bondylan »

surit87

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2014, 05:12:02 AM »
I see a strong resemblance of WOWY with the 'Song of Songs' - two lovers yearning for each other but at the same time unsure about their relationship. I love the part when Bono sings 'Love will tear us apart' at the end of this song in Joshua Tree live from Paris '87.

Offline fresno dave

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2014, 12:46:35 PM »
Here's the earlier thread TheFLy was referring to
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Offline miryclay

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2017, 07:20:49 AM »
Great info on With or Without You:

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Offline Samdoyle1987

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Re: With Or Without You
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2017, 06:55:33 AM »
See the stone set in your eyes - what I think this means- bono sees his lover realise that the situation is hopeless. It could also mean that bono can tell from his lover's eyes that she no longer loves him. Her emotion has turned to stone.
"See the thorn twist in your side" bono can see the pain that this emotionally stressful situation is having on her.  The chorus is quite self explanatory, he can't live with her, because she no longer(/nevar has/ can't due to the situation) love him. He can't live without her, because he loves her so much.
"Through the storm we reach the shore" somehow, these two were able to briefly overcome their inconvenient circumstances to get to a place where they can be together. "You give it all but I want more" bono's lover has gone through a lot of personal difficulties to be with him, but bono wants her commitment to match his strong love. "My hand are tied, my body bruised" bono feels wrecked and helpless, he is unable to cope with this situation. "You got me with noting to win" bono knows that she will never love him again, so he has nothing to win. "And nothing left to lose" because bono has truly "given himself away" he has nothing left to lose". That is my interpretation of the song. Nothing groundbreaking, a pretty standard reading of the lyrics.