Author Topic: I stand with the sons of Cain  (Read 2760 times)

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Offline summerholly

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2019, 10:33:05 PM »
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Bono’s use of Biblical references and Christian imagery has mostly been intentional and related to their traditional meaning, not merely decorative.  Especially in the Joshua Tree years.  Bono has never been good about keeping the secrets of his songs and has been extremely open in expressing his surprisingly conservative Christian beliefs and how they relate to his lyrics.  I Suspect that in the case of this lyric he had something more intentional in mind than Cain being a cool way to false-rhyme with “flame”.

If it were Leonard Cohen I would agree with you.

I think that the key term you bring here is "Christian imagery" which is essentially all that it is...  we're talking about a vague reference to an even more obscured Genesis story re-translated by many generations which stray far from any original source...  it's easily more "decorative" than suggesting any possible personal, or otherwise, connection to any "traditional meaning", in my opinion...  alot of Bono's repertoire is "decorative" (he's extremely adept at it) as is alot of it derived from deeper inner explorations of human experience...

I mean, I could toss this out...  Bono's parents were of conflicting faiths and perhaps Bono himself is also conflicted as a result...  we have the words "dream, dreams, dreamed & dreamers" sprinkled throughout...  yet there's "sad eyes" and "crooked crosses" to boot...  then we have "naked flames" alongside references to "sons of Cain"...  but I'm just someone observing from a distance and guessing at what this "Christian imagery" might mean, if it has any meaning at all...  purely decorative I say and, yes...  it fits well with Leonard Cohen's own "decorative" words scrolling along the massive Joshua Tree stage setup...:-)   

One thing about religion than never fails to exasperate me is that how all these different factions of the Christian faith can be conflicting and historically bloodthirsty, Protestant and Catholic and whatever.  I sometimes think that they get so bogged down in the literal translation that they miss the point of the meaning of Christianity altogether.  I think the point of Christianity is what Bono actually does get.  From his interviews he certainly takes his reading and understanding of the scriptures seriously and is somehow able to interpret them in a way that actually makes sense and he tries to get this out in songs and how he lives his life for the most part.   Bono is on a journey of self discovery and this often results in conflicts especially I expect when dealing with Christian texts and resolving them with life in general and relating them to life and his experiences.   

I guess if some Christians think he is anti Christian or whatever that is their choice to stop following him.  The whole Cain thing passed me by completely, maybe it is a reference to the fact that he doesn't consider himself as perfect and has worked hard to compensate and understand his own failings, I know he has referred to his aggressive streak and quickness to lash out when he was younger.  Bono does understand human failings and relationships quite well I think.  Knowing Bono I doubt it is a throw away line but something personal and well thought out in the context of life.

I tend to get a lot of meanings from Bonos lyrics without even factoring Christianity into them and so do I suspect thousands of others. 

Offline Tortuga

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2019, 10:43:19 PM »
Well, I don’t understand the relevance of how many times its been translated.  Sons of Cain has a specific meaning to believers such as Bono, generally it is symbolic of being apart from God.  If for you it is just words that sound good together, nothing wrong with that.


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Offline summerholly

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2019, 01:14:27 AM »
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Well, I don’t understand the relevance of how many times its been translated.  Sons of Cain has a specific meaning to believers such as Bono, generally it is symbolic of being apart from God.  If for you it is just words that sound good together, nothing wrong with that.


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I am not sure who you are referring to here but I most certainly don't think Bono is using the reference only because the words sound good together that is not how I believe Bono fundamentally rolls when it comes to song writing.  My limited knowledge of the bible despite having it shoved down my throat as a kid would totally think that he is referring to himself in some context of apart from God or his failings or whatever.  Bono is a very smart man and questions and digs into religious texts to find meanings and relevancy in his life.  Sure I am not a full bottle on Christianity and some specifics may pass me by but there is a whole more than just words that sound good together in his songs that I seem to get in my own way!
« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 01:29:09 AM by summerholly »

Offline Tortuga

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2019, 06:08:56 AM »
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Well, I don’t understand the relevance of how many times its been translated.  Sons of Cain has a specific meaning to believers such as Bono, generally it is symbolic of being apart from God.  If for you it is just words that sound good together, nothing wrong with that.


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I am not sure who you are referring to here but I most certainly don't think Bono is using the reference only because the words sound good together that is not how I believe Bono fundamentally rolls when it comes to song writing.  My limited knowledge of the bible despite having it shoved down my throat as a kid would totally think that he is referring to himself in some context of apart from God or his failings or whatever.  Bono is a very smart man and questions and digs into religious texts to find meanings and relevancy in his life.  Sure I am not a full bottle on Christianity and some specifics may pass me by but there is a whole more than just words that sound good together in his songs that I seem to get in my own way!

Sorry, I was replying to Billy Rhythm.


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Offline Billy Rhythm

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2019, 11:15:49 AM »
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Sorry, I was replying to Billy Rhythm

lol

I did see something here yesterday on the home page which may be relevant...  it was displayed on the 'Soundbyte' banner but no longer there so I'll try and recollect the quote best I can...  he did use the same word "conflicted" as he was describing his views on America, which we can all probably agree that the nation 'In God's Country' refers to is the U.S....  he said something like he had polarizing views on America, one being this dreamy kinda artistic landscape while also likening it to a "black comedy"...  going back to the lyrics discussed here it's looking like this song is an elaboration on that...  the "sons of Cain" reference could certainly make for effective "black comedy"...

another 'Soundbyte' that was displayed in its place when I went back searching for it was a Bono quote stating "songwriting is a lot more like painting than people think" which also can be applied here...:-)


Offline Tortuga

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2019, 11:40:35 AM »
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Sorry, I was replying to Billy Rhythm

lol

I did see something here yesterday on the home page which may be relevant...  it was displayed on the 'Soundbyte' banner but no longer there so I'll try and recollect the quote best I can...  he did use the same word "conflicted" as he was describing his views on America, which we can all probably agree that the nation 'In God's Country' refers to is the U.S....  he said something like he had polarizing views on America, one being this dreamy kinda artistic landscape while also likening it to a "black comedy"...  going back to the lyrics discussed here it's looking like this song is an elaboration on that...  the "sons of Cain" reference could certainly make for effective "black comedy"...

another 'Soundbyte' that was displayed in its place when I went back searching for it was a Bono quote stating "songwriting is a lot more like painting than people think" which also can be applied here...:-)

I don’t see the connection. We are probably looking at the same thing from completely different perspectives.  Happy Holidays!


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Offline laoghaire

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2019, 05:36:13 PM »
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I've always thought of "I stand with the sons of Cain" as meaning, roughly, "I stand with the mass of humanity." The key question, it seems to me, is whether "Burned by the fire of love" refers to "She" who "stands with a naked flame" or, as others have put it here, God. I have leaned over the years to "she," America, who wants to spread love but ends up burning people in the process. In that case, we have a fairly harsh criticism of America here, which fits with the rest of the song. But "love," of course, is Bono's favorite synonym for God, so you can argue for the song ending with a contrast between the America "with a naked flame" -- ultimately illusory and unsatisfying -- and the God who has the real flame and burns you with it in the process, enabling you to be "set . . . alight." If you think about Cain as a wanderer, you can then draw connections with ISHFWILF, TTYW, and other TJT songs, not to mention other songs throughout the band's career (including "The Wanderer"). I still favor the first interpretation, primarily because the song ends on a downbeat mood (it seems to me), but see the validity of the second one.

And laoghaire, regarding your comment about the devil horns in UTEOTW Slane, that was a standard practice on at least several Elevation tour stops; you can see it in the Boston video as well and I seem to recall it when they came to DC on that tour. I've always found it funny that some viewers think he's imitating a bull fight when it seems to me he's taking a page from medieval plays showing God (in this case, Edge as Jesus) and Satan in conflict. In the Boston video, when Bono ends the song by scratching at Edge's guitar, I see that as possibly Bono's acting out Gen 3:15.

I haven't visited this site in a couple of months, was surprised to see this thread got bumped.

Chip, lots of great stuff here, thanks.

Genesis 3:15. This passage is an interesting one for this discussion, since it may refer to that division between the sons of Cain, and some feel this may be a prophecy of the coming of Jesus ("the woman" perhaps being a prophesized Mary). So then, yes, it is an interesting backdrop for the UTEOTW confrontation between Jesus and Satan.

Which reminds me of another song reference: "all of this can be yours, give me what I want and no one gets hurt" - Satan's temptation of Jesus in the desert (Luke 4:7).

Can you tell me more about Cain as a wanderer?

My understanding is that The Wanderer refers to King Solomon.

Offline woodeye

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Re: I stand with the sons of Cain
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2020, 08:04:13 AM »
I connect with this song on the deepest of spiritual levels...

My young relatives were killed, senselessly, by a negligent big rig driver. The car accident took place out in the California desert, where the Joshua Trees live.

I drove out to the place where some dreams were crushed. I listened to In God's Country, over and over and over again enroute. The lyrics battered my soul.

Desert sky.
Dream beneath the desert sky.
The rivers run but soon run dry.
We need new dreams tonight.

...Every day the dreamers die.
See what's on the other side.

I arrived at this awful location, right down the road from where Sam Kinnison had died in a car accident fifteen years earlier, and talked to angels with his last breaths.

Slumping to the ground in the midday desert heat, I pleaded with God.
"Why God, why ? Why them instead of me ?"

The answer was clear.

Ron and Kelly died near a town called Needles.
Now the needle points at all of us.
Our time here is precious.
We must do good things.
As Ron and Kelly surely would have.

Bono specifically declares his love for America in singing In God's Country during the 2019 Joshua Tree Tour. Let us all strive to form a more perfect union. Gold has to be combined, not with greed, but with compassion, and a spiritual connection.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2020, 08:08:10 AM by woodeye »