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U2 => Lyrics => Topic started by: ian ryan on October 11, 2016, 11:55:16 PM

Title: I can't live with or without you
Post by: ian ryan on October 11, 2016, 11:55:16 PM
"I can't live with or without you" or "I can't live, with or without you." So which is it, and why?
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: riffraff on October 12, 2016, 05:05:50 AM
"I can't live with or without you". I think it's a simple interpretation of how hard it is to keep a relationship healthy. You sometimes really can't live, even with a soul-mate, without experiencing doubt, fear, pain, etc. You can't live without them, but it can be so hard to live with them. In my humble opinion, a description of a normal long-term relationship.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: OnlyU2 on October 12, 2016, 05:57:52 PM
It's always a difficult choice to make. You're with someone you love, yet it can get so hard to deal with that person.  You're fighting all the time, or maybe there is abuse in the relationship.  You try to tear yourself away, but find yourself miserable without them.  You either continue being with that person through all the bad times, or leave them and struggle through the heartache of getting over them. 
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: THRILLHO on October 13, 2016, 08:22:19 AM
exactly. my wife brings this lyric up alot and how she hates it.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: shineinthesummernight on November 05, 2016, 03:26:52 PM
If you've ever been married, I think the meaning is very clear. 8)
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: codeguy on December 19, 2016, 04:09:54 PM
wow....I think you're all wrong :-P

Bono has intimated on multiple occasions that WOWY is a conversation with U2's audience, written at a time when Bono was first grappling with mega-stardom. I believe (with some evidence) that it's twisted to imagine the rock star as the crucified messiah, and the fan as the adoring disciple who expects you to sacrifice yourself - with the singer bouncing back and forth between talking as the audience and talking as himself. The line "see the thorn twist in your side" is an obvious Crucifixion reference, and reminds me of "they want you to be Jesus, they'll get down on one knee, but they want their money back if you're alive at 33" - another crucifixion reference but one that's twisted to refer to stardom.

He gives himself away. You give it all but I want more. I can't live, with or without you. The stone (diamond) set in your eye - a reference to the bleary eyed groupie fan. The thorn twist in your side - a reference to the fans ability to turn on you and expect you to sacrifice yourself. I (the fan) wait for you (the rock star, to appear).

And then, in the end, neither the fan nor the star can live with or without the other.


Here's some evidence:

In Eamonn Dunphy's 'Unforgettable Fire', now sadly out of print and disowned by the band - Bono is quoted as stating that the song is about his relationship with U2 fans.
On stage at Zoo TV and Popmart shows, Bono - in MacPhisto character  - undoes his shirt by his heart, a reference to the 'piercing the lords side' view of the crucifixion.
In Neil Stokes books, Bono gives the song multiple meanings, but states that its about the juxtaposition between wanting to be married to Ali while at the same time have the trappings of rock stardom.
In Hot Press, in 1987, Bono stated that with or without you doesn't make sense without luminous times - a song that's often been understood to be about the temptations of groupies (note in verse 1, she is the carnival, but if verse 2 she is the wave and she pulls me under)

It's not e=mc(2) but it's pretty good circumstantial ....

Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: Tortuga on January 01, 2017, 07:44:35 AM
Obviously songs can be interpreted any way you want but I think songwriters often in interviews like to relate a more obscure meaning that a song has come to mean to them other than the more obvious primary meaning the song had when written.  I think in the case of WOWY the most obvious interpretation is a man who is tormented by a woman he is very much in love with but she has cheated on him and given herself to another man.  He doesn't feel like he can take her back but he can't live without her.  The thorn reference is more likely pulled from 2 Corinthians 12:7, from the apostle Paul...maybe mixed up with a reference to feeling crucified.  Its more imagery than meaning.  The stone set in her eyes=starry-eyed fans is a tortured interpretation.  Much more elegant for it to refer to her willfull and cold indignation in cheating on him.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: dwhenderson2017@U2 on March 14, 2017, 08:21:38 PM
OMG, I can't believe noone is understanding this song. It is Bono's rendition of how it must feel to be God. He can't 'live with' us because we won't accept Him wholeheartedly and He loves us so much that He'll never let us go, He 'can't live without us'. His 'hands are tied', He can't change self will, 'His body bruised', Jesus on the cross. 'And you give yourself away'... People sell themselves short for a measly piece of bread... C'mon, doesnt anyone get it? Does Bono even know God is speaking through him here? Seriously, wake up people.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: riffraff on March 15, 2017, 05:44:20 AM
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OMG, I can't believe noone is understanding this song. It is Bono's rendition of how it must feel to be God. He can't 'live with' us because we won't accept Him wholeheartedly and He loves us so much that He'll never let us go, He 'can't live without us'. His 'hands are tied', He can't change self will, 'His body bruised', Jesus on the cross. 'And you give yourself away'... People sell themselves short for a measly piece of bread... C'mon, doesnt anyone get it? Does Bono even know God is speaking through him here? Seriously, wake up people.
Gee, thanks for the wake-up call. Welcome to the forum. Be nice...seriously!
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: JTNash on March 15, 2017, 07:14:19 AM
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OMG, I can't believe noone is understanding this song. It is Bono's rendition of how it must feel to be God. He can't 'live with' us because we won't accept Him wholeheartedly and He loves us so much that He'll never let us go, He 'can't live without us'. His 'hands are tied', He can't change self will, 'His body bruised', Jesus on the cross. 'And you give yourself away'... People sell themselves short for a measly piece of bread... C'mon, doesnt anyone get it? Does Bono even know God is speaking through him here? Seriously, wake up people.
actually it was about being on tour and the rock star life and wanting to be home with his wife at the same time, being torn between two lives
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: riffraff on March 15, 2017, 07:34:18 AM
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OMG, I can't believe noone is understanding this song. It is Bono's rendition of how it must feel to be God. He can't 'live with' us because we won't accept Him wholeheartedly and He loves us so much that He'll never let us go, He 'can't live without us'. His 'hands are tied', He can't change self will, 'His body bruised', Jesus on the cross. 'And you give yourself away'... People sell themselves short for a measly piece of bread... C'mon, doesnt anyone get it? Does Bono even know God is speaking through him here? Seriously, wake up people.
actually it was about being on tour and the rock star life and wanting to be home with his wife at the same time, being torn between two lives
I wanted to tell them that, but didn't have the heart to break what seems to be a stubborn heart that's sold on a misinterpretation! Thanks for posting this...
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: JTNash on March 15, 2017, 08:48:10 AM
not every U2 song is about God,  nothing  wrong with that.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: THRILLHO on March 15, 2017, 01:12:23 PM
eh i see it as the married life, you really cant stand certain parts of living with your spouse but you cant live without them either.

my wife can't stand this song for that very line she doesnt get the lyrics.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: Lizard on March 17, 2017, 08:20:32 AM
Like many of U2's songs there are mulitiple layers in there. This is what makes them so interesting and worthwhile liestening even  after so much time.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: riffraff on March 17, 2017, 08:30:12 AM
Yes, layers and layers and layers. I love this aspect of their music.
Title: Re: I can't live with or without you
Post by: xy on March 19, 2017, 04:07:34 PM
Always thought it was about  Bono juggling domestic life (Ali marriage) and the increasing pressures of U2 getting more famous.