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U2 => The Music and Lyrics => Topic started by: binary_code on November 25, 2015, 08:36:59 AM

Title: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: binary_code on November 25, 2015, 08:36:59 AM
As I was revisiting my beloved Pop album today, it hit me I didn't really know what 'Last night...' is about. I have some thoughts myself, but it would be interesting to hear your interpretations of the lyrics as well! Either an official one from the band (if you know if one) or your own. Bring it! :)
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Thunder Peel on December 01, 2015, 11:54:43 AM
I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: EdgeWanderer on December 01, 2015, 11:35:07 PM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

I could go on forever analyzing U2 songs but this is basically the short and sweet version of my interpretation.

In other words, it's best to live each day to the fullest and not get caught up in the temptations of materialism. After you die, you can't take anything with you. We are constantly running out of time to enjoy what really matters and what we take for granted.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: satellitedog on December 02, 2015, 04:16:25 AM
I'd say it's an amalgam of thoughts on pre-2000 social anxiety and heightened expectations and angst, and fears, channeled into hedonism by the counterculture, and consumerism by the mainstream (not that they weren't mingling) and society's addiction to the 24 hour information tap and how modern life is dependent on instant gratification, combined with their own jet-set lifestyle and of course as I remember this was one of-, if not the last song they worked on before sending the record to mastering, so there must have been a bit of running on fumes feeling (that permeates the whole of Pop, so it was maybe part of the: "what the f*** are we still doing here, who are we as a band, where do we go from the top of the world without a holy escalator", plus the beginning of a midlife crisis) , so it all added up nicely into an apocalyptic fantasy strolling down Main street.

Way to predict the internet age by the way.

Also there happens to be a Ray Bradbury short story that takes place on the last evening/night of humanity, with everyone just knowing there won't be a tomorrow. No meteor, no known cause for the end of the world, just the certainty nobody's going  to wake up the next morning, even nobody being there to wake up. Wonder if Bono's read that, or a similar literary work.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Lizard on December 02, 2015, 06:57:55 AM
These are quite interesting bits and pieces of thoughts that seem to lead towards All that you can't leave behind especially to Walk on with the All that you measure, all that you build.... enumeration of things that must be left behind.

I especially like this part of the song:

The more you take the less you feel
The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today


I'm not sure whether I understand it correctly. But to me it means that having (money / gifts / knowledge..... whatever) has consequences on the feeling, on the beliefs, but also for my responibilities.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: satellitedog on December 03, 2015, 01:39:23 AM
Yeah I think it's like Gone, about his guilt for having gained as many riches with what is basically a leisure activity for regular folks.
Also it sounds like a nod to the young rich dude in the camel and the needle's eye story from the Gospel of Luke.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Chip on December 05, 2015, 11:40:29 PM
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These are quite interesting bits and pieces of thoughts that seem to lead towards All that you can't leave behind especially to Walk on with the All that you measure, all that you build.... enumeration of things that must be left behind.

I especially like this part of the song:

The more you take the less you feel
The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today


I'm not sure whether I understand it correctly. But to me it means that having (money / gifts / knowledge..... whatever) has consequences on the feeling, on the beliefs, but also for my responibilities.


Yes. A good number of POP's lyrics definitely point to ATYCLB.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Chip on December 06, 2015, 12:23:13 AM
To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: tom_b1807 on December 06, 2015, 03:02:46 PM
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To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.

Or she's sat at the bus stop with the Sun newspaper...?
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Chip on December 06, 2015, 08:25:59 PM
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To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.

Or she's sat at the bus stop with the Sun newspaper...?

That's an interesting interpretation that makes sense, Tom; I personally don't hold to it because of the addition, "sun, here it comes." Bono's partly incorporating a welcome playful allusion to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" (or so it has always seemed to me), but we've also got the sun weaving in and out of several POP songs, so much so that I don't see its appearance here as relating to the paper. If Bono had stopped at one "sun" ("Sun"), I'd agree with you, but those extra words and the use of the sun imagery throughout the album make me think otherwise. I also think of Bono's live (Mexico City) commentary that the sun's appearance is valued in Ireland, and the fact that we have parallelism between "not waiting for a savior to come" and "here it comes" in connection with the sun. That's some of my line of thinking, anyway.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Canadanne on December 06, 2015, 08:50:09 PM
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To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.

Or she's sat at the bus stop with the Sun newspaper...?

That's an interesting interpretation that makes sense, Tom; I personally don't hold to it because of the addition, "sun, here it comes." Bono's partly incorporating a welcome playful allusion to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" (or so it has always seemed to me), but we've also got the sun weaving in and out of several POP songs, so much so that I don't see its appearance here as relating to the paper. If Bono had stopped at one "sun" ("Sun"), I'd agree with you, but those extra words and the use of the sun imagery throughout the album make me think otherwise. I also think of Bono's live (Mexico City) commentary that the sun's appearance is valued in Ireland, and the fact that we have parallelism between "not waiting for a savior to come" and "here it comes" in connection with the sun. That's some of my line of thinking, anyway.

I've always taken it to be a deliberate double meaning. "The News of the World and the Sun" (newspapers), with the added Beatles reference as a nice bit of wordplay. I find it hard to believe that *isn't* what he intended - why bother namechecking any particular newspaper there, if it wasn't leading into the Sun pun?
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Chip on December 06, 2015, 09:26:55 PM
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To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.

Or she's sat at the bus stop with the Sun newspaper...?

That's an interesting interpretation that makes sense, Tom; I personally don't hold to it because of the addition, "sun, here it comes." Bono's partly incorporating a welcome playful allusion to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" (or so it has always seemed to me), but we've also got the sun weaving in and out of several POP songs, so much so that I don't see its appearance here as relating to the paper. If Bono had stopped at one "sun" ("Sun"), I'd agree with you, but those extra words and the use of the sun imagery throughout the album make me think otherwise. I also think of Bono's live (Mexico City) commentary that the sun's appearance is valued in Ireland, and the fact that we have parallelism between "not waiting for a savior to come" and "here it comes" in connection with the sun. That's some of my line of thinking, anyway.

I've always taken it to be a deliberate double meaning. "The News of the World and the Sun" (newspapers), with the added Beatles reference as a nice bit of wordplay. I find it hard to believe that *isn't* what he intended - why bother namechecking any particular newspaper there, if it wasn't leading into the Sun pun?

There's no reason it couldn't be just playful as you conclude, Canadanne; as I've already mentioned, it's a combination of the parallelism in that stanza and the use of the sun imagery throughout the album that lead me to my interpretation. In any case, if I'm wrong and we do have a reference to the Sun here (I'm not sure why one paper reference requires a second one), my larger interpretation remains the same.  :D
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Thunder Peel on December 29, 2015, 11:23:43 AM
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These are quite interesting bits and pieces of thoughts that seem to lead towards All that you can't leave behind especially to Walk on with the All that you measure, all that you build.... enumeration of things that must be left behind.

I especially like this part of the song:

The more you take the less you feel
The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today


I'm not sure whether I understand it correctly. But to me it means that having (money / gifts / knowledge..... whatever) has consequences on the feeling, on the beliefs, but also for my responibilities.


I always interpreted it as a vicious cycle of greed and materialism. We believe that having the latest gadget or a bigger house or a nicer car will satisfy us, yet once the newness wears off we find we need something else, hence "The more you have the more it takes today."
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: fresno dave on January 05, 2016, 03:01:14 PM
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To me, the central image of the song always has been "She's not waiting on a savior to come/ She's at the bus stop with the News of the World/And the sun, sun, here it comes/She's not waiting for anyone." The sun/rain imagery that Bono employs throughout POP always seems associated with God's presence/grace in a sermon-on-the-mount-inspired fashion. LNOE's main character isn't looking for God and so doesn't see the sun (in contrast with the "ones" in SATS, who do see it but are happy just to stare at it and fear to go any deeper than that), and the choruses make it clear that she's firmly jaded (probably too light of a word, actually). Instead, she lives her life hedonistically in the sense of needing to pay back her "living next week now." The vocal delivery gives her plight a sense of urgency, with the chorus seeming to me to be a call to action to help her.

Or she's sat at the bus stop with the Sun newspaper...?

That's an interesting interpretation that makes sense, Tom; I personally don't hold to it because of the addition, "sun, here it comes." Bono's partly incorporating a welcome playful allusion to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" (or so it has always seemed to me), but we've also got the sun weaving in and out of several POP songs, so much so that I don't see its appearance here as relating to the paper. If Bono had stopped at one "sun" ("Sun"), I'd agree with you, but those extra words and the use of the sun imagery throughout the album make me think otherwise. I also think of Bono's live (Mexico City) commentary that the sun's appearance is valued in Ireland, and the fact that we have parallelism between "not waiting for a savior to come" and "here it comes" in connection with the sun. That's some of my line of thinking, anyway.

I think he employs both meanings of "Sun"..first time, the newspaper..which then morphs into Bono'
s usual deeper meaning of "sun"  ("Staring at", "Fly" etc)
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: satellitedog on January 10, 2016, 09:18:10 AM
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These are quite interesting bits and pieces of thoughts that seem to lead towards All that you can't leave behind especially to Walk on with the All that you measure, all that you build.... enumeration of things that must be left behind.

I especially like this part of the song:

The more you take the less you feel
The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today


-Materialism and addiction
-Ignorance and religious certainty (bliss vs. worldweariness)
-Materialism from the rich man's point of view (also see the camel and the eye of needle story), conscience vs nihilism or cynicism, intelligence vs the previous line.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: nufc_nz on February 24, 2016, 03:41:25 AM
I always thought the line was "The more you have, the more it takes to beg"... "Today" doesn't make sense.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: binary_code on February 25, 2016, 12:42:46 PM
I thought it was "the more you have, the more it takes to gain." Haha. Makes sense eitherhow, though!

I enjoyed reading your interpretations. I guess it's not as "deep" a song as many other of U2's songs, but we obviously still find some different meanings of it. I always thought of it as a YOLO song with a questioning undertone, if you'd like. Like two different voices in the chorus, one saying "You gotta give it (your life) away" as in not only living selfishly and only for yourself. But "She don't care what it's worth, she's living like it's the last night on earth." "She" don't want to think about the consequenses her way of living may cause, to herself or others.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: ShankAsu on February 25, 2016, 03:51:38 PM
I always thought the title was taken from Bukowski's book The Last Night of the Earth, poems written at the end of his life.  U2 have lifted lines from him deliberately before, i.e. the days roam away like wild horses over the hills.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: shineinthesummernight on June 17, 2016, 08:49:37 PM
"You've gotta give it away." What I take from this is the notion of self-surrender.  You may be leading a materialistic and shallow existence, but at some point you may have to give it all away--to a spouse, a child, a lover, a Higher Power, etc.  Bono references surrender often, going back to the War album up to the current SOI tour.  I think he is a person with a very healthy sense of self/ego who is fascinated with the notion of giving it all away, laying it down for someone/something else.  "If I wanna live I gotta die to myself someday," he sang on "Surrender".
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: Dali on October 29, 2016, 11:54:34 AM
"Afraid of what you'd find / if you took a look inside" gives it away that the sun in "Staring At The Sun" is at least partially the Sun newspaper.

However, I don't think it's that Sun in "Last Night On Earth".
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: shineinthesummernight on October 29, 2016, 05:10:44 PM
The song to me is tinged in apocalyptic symbolism.  The sun comes, but presumably will also be extinguished at some point in time (the last night on earth).  She, the girl in the story, is not waiting on a savior to come, but he may come anyway.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: THRILLHO on October 31, 2016, 09:59:45 PM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

this. this isn't one of my fav songs on the album but i've always seen it as materialism, hedonism, what have you. esp. considering the commercialism spoof that was PopMart.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: SlyDanner on November 02, 2016, 07:19:42 PM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

this. this isn't one of my fav songs on the album but i've always seen it as materialism, hedonism, what have you. esp. considering the commercialism spoof that was PopMart.

whooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... hold on now.... PopMart was a SPOOF on commercialism?!?  Dang, now I get it.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: THRILLHO on November 02, 2016, 11:06:28 PM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

this. this isn't one of my fav songs on the album but i've always seen it as materialism, hedonism, what have you. esp. considering the commercialism spoof that was PopMart.

whooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... hold on now.... PopMart was a SPOOF on commercialism?!?  Dang, now I get it.

no one likes a smartass.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: SlyDanner on November 05, 2016, 10:18:43 AM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

this. this isn't one of my fav songs on the album but i've always seen it as materialism, hedonism, what have you. esp. considering the commercialism spoof that was PopMart.

whooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... hold on now.... PopMart was a SPOOF on commercialism?!?  Dang, now I get it.

no one likes a smartass.

or a humorless bore.  which I know you are not.

Come on Thrillho, take a joke.
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: THRILLHO on November 05, 2016, 11:31:12 AM
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I always looked at it as a song about materialism and the fact that we can't take anything with us when we go. It could also be about experience and living each day as if it could be our last.

this. this isn't one of my fav songs on the album but i've always seen it as materialism, hedonism, what have you. esp. considering the commercialism spoof that was PopMart.

whooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... hold on now.... PopMart was a SPOOF on commercialism?!?  Dang, now I get it.

no one likes a smartass.

or a humorless bore.  which I know you are not.

Come on Thrillho, take a joke.

 :P :-*
Title: Re: Last night on earth - meaning?
Post by: riffraff on November 05, 2016, 03:18:43 PM
gosh, I really DID miss all this stuff while I was away. lol