Wednesday, January 28, 2009

U2's New Song--Get On Your Boots

U2's new single is out. Musically it has a lot of energy...energy that grows on you, as does the song. But I want to focus on the lyrics. Let me begin by saying I am no U2 expert...I've just followed their music and have been able to learn a lot about their lives over time. I've read much of what's out there on U2 and have tried to study Bono's own words about himself and the band. Obviously I don't personally know any of the boys from Dublin, I just know some things about them. I know that for much of their career, 3 of the guys have been believers, and that the band almost broke up just as it was getting going because of discussions as to whether followers of Christ could play music that wasn't blatently Christian. I also know that now, bassist Adam Clayton is also a believer. I know that they know the Scriptures very well...well enough to either quote them in their songs and also well enough to layer their lyrics with Biblical allusions. Their whole career has been about bringing the redemptive hope of the Gospel to listening ears, almost cryptically, in a way not unlike Christ preaching in parables (those who have ears to hear, can; parables are spoken as much to conceal truth from the disinterested as to reveal truth to the seeker). As my friend Steve Stockman of Northern Ireland says in his book on U2, Walk On, Bono has developed the art of "skillful disguise." However, it must also be said, at many times U2 are not so subtle (Grace; Yahweh, etc). I think that their early career as well as their most recent albums are most bold in the clarity of the Gospel message, others might disagree. Bono is a poet...he writes lyrics that have many layers of meaning...he uses symbol to make several statements at the same time. For instance, he can sing about a woman that is about a female, but is also about God's grace (the song "Grace" really is about a woman named Grace, but its also obviously about God's grace). Many times, Bono is singing about a real person or nation or event, but the song is layered with a deeper spiritual meaning. "Get on Your Boots" apparently is grounded in the thought that men have messed up the world, so let's give women the chance (sexy boots). It could also be about a world leader (female?) or a leader nation (even the U.S. which doesn't know the potential we have to bring beauty in the world; or it could be about an already beautiful Ireland that could be more beautiful as she became unified and endured no more violence). But, again, there is almost always also a deeper spiritual meaning in U2's songs. I know its hard to believe, but these guys take their faith and their "pulpit" seriously! So, from a spiritual perspective "Get On Your Boots" might also involve a prayer to Christ to put on His "boots", even "sexy boots", meaning His love and grace, and visit the planet with "a big kiss"...If you're a U2 fan, you'll recall words from the song "Yahweh," where Bono sings, "take this mouth, give it a kiss." Seems like the same thought is present here...here, a kiss that will remove the violence and hate in the world...the hate between those who have military might and those who have economic power ("submarine and gasoline"). The line, "winds blow with a twist," could be the surprising fresh winds from an unexpected place (women/grace, or, perhaps most surprisingly, the Bride of Christ which is the Church?) that will change the scene on earth The "Night is falling everywhere" highlights the darkness of evil enveloping the world. It could also be an allusion to the words of Christ that we must work while it is still day, darkness is coming when no one can work. Of course there are many passages in the New Testament that deal with darkness as the presence of evil. Evil is revealed through the song in "rockets hit the fun fair, Satan loves a bombscare." Clearly a commentary on contemporary events. What is hopeful, however, is the line, "but he won't scare you." Now, why a woman wouldn't be afraid of Satan, I don't understand. Therefore, the "You" could also be Christ, Who has defeated Satan and therefore Satan doesn't scare Him; or the "you" could be the Church, about which Jesus says, "the gates of hell will not prevail against her," so she should not be scared either. In typical Bono poetry, I would guess that he may mean both at the same time, especially since the Church is the Body of Christ on earth, the Bride of Christ, the Woman...so there's the cry to "Get on Your Boots, sexy boots." What makes me think it could be the Church is that Bono during the last several years has turned to the Church as one of its prophets and preached the clear message that its past time for the Church to wake up and realize Who She is called to be. Bono spent much time in 2004 with American evangelical leaders and musicians sharing his passion for the poor, for the AIDS victims in Africa and DATA. Again, it perhaps begins as a call for women to rise up and help the men who've made such a mess of things, but then progresses as a cry to Jesus to rise and trample evil and violence in the world, and finally becomes a prophetic call to the Church to activism and to stand for peace and love...or again, perhaps poetry involving all ideas. At first the line stating "free me from a dark dream, candy first, ice cream; all the kids are screaming but the ghosts aren't real" confused me. But with the theme of women in view, how many of us don't remember waking up from a nightmare and being held, comforted, assured by our moms? Women are the ones who tend to comfort best in times of fear and confusion...even if they may resort to candy and ice cream to calm children's fears. They can whisper in children's ears like no one else after a bad dream, "Don't worry, the ghosts aren't real." But the truth is, in this broken world, OUR ghosts ARE REAL! The line then follows, "here's where you gotta be, love and community." This line could refer to the mass community of female humanity, but it would not easily refer to Christ. However, it would be an appropriate line for the Church...or it also could refer to all humanity to pull together through the nurturing effect of women involved in world affairs. But there certainly seems to be an allusion to the New Heavens and New Earth with the line "laughter is eternity if joy is real." Then the haunting line, "You don't know how beautiful, you don't know how beautiful you are. You don't know, you don't get it do you?" It could be a reminder to women that they are image bearers and beautiful and able to make a dramatic impact in homes, churches, nations and the world. But again, it also seems to me that it could be a line about the Church...she doesn't realize how beautiful she is and what beauty she can weave into the world if she would just live redemptively for grace and peace and hope and joy among the nations. It could be, again, a reference to broader humanity (or a world leader or leader nation) which doesn't realize the beauty of being created in God's image or what such image bearers are capable of by common grace. People of hate fail to see that the ones they are hating are also image-bearers worthy of dignity and respect. "Someone's left to blow it up" seems to refer to terror, such as suicide bombers, perhaps. The next line supposedly says, "the wear weeds are growing up" which makes little sense to me...when I listen to the song it sounds like Bono is actually saying, "someone's left to blow it up, but we're into GROWING up." Listen for yourself. Could refer to U2 who are growing up; growing up in Christ and growing up in understanding their mission in the world. If it does refer to U2, it would be growing up for Bono, because he's been rather harsh of the Bride of Christ through the years (on the other hand, the evangelical church has often been less than kind to him!!) Certainly the broader Church ought to be more into growing up than blowing up! The Church is often guilty of lobbing idealogical grenades when we could be building bridges with those outside the Church. We, as followers of Christ, must grow up and live more like Christ lived. Then the line, "women are the future." U2 may truly think at one level women can do a better job of leading the world than men. Hopefully Bono realizes, however, that women, as much as men, have been broken by sin. We need to remind ourselves that often Bono writes of the "female" or nurturing aspect of God, the loving/caring nature of God, and also often speaks of grace and love as women. I wonder if he's also saying grace and love are the future. It sounds to me that the next line is "All the big revelations" but supposedly the line reads "Whole of big revelations." If my ears are right, I wonder if Bono continues the thought that all the big revelations for our future involve grace and love winning the day. Of course, there is the thought that women may just come up with solutions. But Christians are called to be people of grace and love...and if WE would get it together, the world could and would change...and all humanity could be impacted. Then the line that highlights what has been for much of history, the problem between men and countries... military might and economic power---"I've gotta submarine, you've got gasoline." The world thinks those are the power elements, when grace and love in Christ is the only way to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb! Bono then says he "doesn't want to talk about war between nations (not right now)"... instead of the focus always being what is wrong and all the fighting and all the killing and all the hate, let's stop focusing on all that and do something to change it all! No question that women, typically, would not want to talk about war between the nations, as typically, they don't want to talk about football!! Come, women! Come men! Come Christ, Come Church...get on your boots...sexy boots. Then at the end, Bono cries, "let me in the song." Bono could be speaking for women who have felt left out, been left out...saying "Hey, let us in! Let us have a chance." From a spiritual perspective, it could also be the song of the Trinity, the song that is the hope of the last line of the Gospel, that peace will come. It could be that Bono wants in THE Song that he has longed for his whole Christian life...the Song where the promises of the Gospel are entirely and finally fulfilled. Though we may wonder, "how long to sing this song," and though we "still haven't found what we're looking for" or what the Gospel calls us to expect and what was promised by Christ, peace will come and the finality of His redemption is closer today than it was yesterday! Christ WILL set up His kingdom "Where the Streets Have No Name." Bono doesn't "wanna drown" in the sorrow of a kingdom that "can be believed in but not yet seen" or experienced...in the midst of the "sound" whether the sound of this song, or the sound of rockets hitting the fun fair, it could very well be that Bono cries that Christ would meet him and make some sense of it all...so the cry continues, "Get on your boots, Get on Your Boots, Get on Your boots. So, Church, cry out to Christ to meet this broken world with His grace; Cry out that He will put on His boots and trample His enemies that foster hatred and violence. And Church, come join the song and fight against evil...fight against the violence and hatred...Church, be the redemptive force in the world you are called to be! Now, do I know that Bono means all this...not really. After all, he hasn't called me and talked about the song. But I will say this...what I've written would be completely in line with the symbolism and poetic layering he has used in the past. Anyway, that's a first stab at a song I've been listening to again and again...and I like it!

10 comments:

Julie A. said...

Well, you now know that I am ignorant when it comes to U2 but I did download "Get On Your Boots" after reading your post. I was inspired. I so wish I could take your class at UofM.

The Bobosphere said...

thanks, Jules! Its only one class, but it should be fun!

rihannsu-poodle said...

Well, you were right in what you thought you were hearing on the lyrics. I don't know where you were getting the other words from but here are the correct lyrics:
"Get On Your Boots"

The future needs a big kiss
Winds blows with a twist
Never seen a moon like this
Can you see it too

Night is falling everywhere
Rockets at the fun fair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But he won’t scare you

Hey, sexy boots
Get on your boots, yeah

You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss, ice cream
All our kids are screaming
But the ghosts aren’t real

Here’s where we gotta be
Love and community
Laughter is eternity
If joy is real

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know and you don’t get it, do you
No, you don't know how beautiful
You don't know
You don’t know how beautiful you are

That’s someone’s stuff they’re blowing up
We’re into growing up
Women of the future
Hold the big revelations

I got a submarine
You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk about
Wars between nations

Not right now
Hey sexy boots, yeah
No, no, no
Get on your boots, yeah
Not right now
Bossy boots

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know and you don’t get it, do you
No, you don't know how beautiful
You don't know
You don’t know how beautiful you are

Sexy boots
I don’t want to talk about
The wars between the nations
Sexy boots, yeah

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, now
God, I’m going down
I don’t wanna drown now
Meet me in the sound

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Meet me in the sound

Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey

Larry Fischer said...

I am off to ITunes to download it now thanks Bob!
Larryfischer.net
thecampingpro.com

The Bobosphere said...

thanks for the right lyrics; glad to know even as I age that my hearing is still ok...I just got them from a U2 sight out there, probably not an official site.

theonemessenger said...

Um, Bob, I am sorry brother, but you are WAY off on this one. The God of the bible is a HOLY God. Nowhere in his word can I find Paul referring to "sexy boots" as "meaning His love and grace." Brother, let the world (with U2 in it) be the world, and Christ be our world.

xcualquiera said...

I've been reading your post. I think this song has much more of the present than of the past.

There are verses or parts of verses I cannot interpret.

Initially I though it was a song about a cold war going on. The verse "the future needs a big kiss, winds blow with a twist" is the call for the need. "Night is falling everywhere, rockets at the funfair" means nothing but that yes...the world is in darkness and weapons are toys for who wouldn't have to fight. The verse "Satan loves the bomb scare, but he won't scare you" reminds me (maybe because of my geographical location) of the trials with bombs, rockets and weapons being done by Chávez and Puttin here, next to the caribbean coasts. However, what I think in this verse is far apart from what I feel from it.I feel the message is purely spiritual to all of us, or even to God, a throw of faith.

"All our kids are screaming but the ghosts aren't real" is just the human tendency to be indiferent with known real dangers in the world as a whole, which kids cannot ignore and face scared.

"Here's what we gotta be love and community" is literal for me. I still don't get "Laughter is eternity if joy is real" It looks to me like a protest against the sarcasm of the "Clowny laughy" presidents in the world.

"If someone's into blowing up, we are into growing up" is the big idea behind this song, which I will summarize at the end. "I got a submarine, you got gasoline, I don't wanna talk about wars between nations" for me is just talking about the fact that Venezuela gives gas to Rusia and Russia gives weapons to Venezuela in order to temptate a War with Colombia and (or) the United states.

The chorus is simply a call for us to put in place for our humanity and to act accordingly to our responsabilities as humans and as a race. "Sexy boots" is just the particular call for those girls living in the far world of fashion, ignoring the present and the human problems. Then "Foxy boots" is another particular call.

"You don't know how beautiful you are. You don't know , you don't get it" is Bono's faith in the human nature and love. So this is why he calls so loud.

"Let me in the sound..." is the "I want to feel it, let me feel the sound of evil and wars, don't let us be indiferent". "My god, I'm coming down, I don't wanna drown now" looks more like a mofo verse and seems to be of sorrow.

Sorry for filling your blog abussively =).

I read a version which states that it is a song that Bono writes to the band (ofcourse, this makes a lot of sense if you think of it).

Maybe I can write about that version later. Sorry for my english. My mail is xcualquiera@hotmail.com.

Lance E Sloan said...

Interesting analysis, Bob. While I believe Edge is quoted on U2.com saying that the idea behind the song is that women should take charge, I think it's undeniable that this song has its Christian influences, like many other U2 songs.

PS: U2.com just absolutely stinks. It's a good thing that when I paid to join the online community, I also got a nice t-shirt and a couple CDs. Those made it worth the cost. I wish they would hurry up and put up a replacement web site.

Mary said...

I think this song refers to the Isaiah passage about how beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news!! Going to use it for the youth and my talk on mission

Lisa said...

There were some really great ideas of what was being conveyed here. I liked them. But, when I listen to the beat, which is quick, and listen to the correct lyrics, I can hear a message for all of us, yes, including women, to get on our boots, sexy boots, bossy boots, and stand up against the evils of the world before it's too late, quickly!

"You don't know, you don't get it, do you... you don't know how beautiful you are..." the beauty lies within grace. Listen to the lyrics again. They are beautiful, but listen to the beat too, it's fast, quick, urgent!

BTW there is no "and" in the line... it is simply, "you don't know, you don't get it, do you?"