Saturday, June 13, 2015
The 3rd song of the U2 concert at the L.A. Forum on May 27 was Vertigo. Vertigo, of course, is dysfunctional dizziness, often resulting from certain movements or motion. Flying vertigo is disorientation because you’ve lost a true understanding of the horizon. Bono has explained the song: “In the case of 'Vertigo,' I was thinking about this awful nightclub we've all been to. You're supposed to be having a great time and everything's extraordinary around you and the drinks are the price of buying a bar in a Third World country. ...you're just looking around and you see big, fat Capitalism at the top of its mountain, just about to topple. It's that woozy, sick feeling of realizing that here we are, drinking, eating, polluting, robbing ourselves to death. And in the middle of the club, there's this girl. She has crimson nails. I don't even know if she's beautiful, it doesn't matter but she has a cross around her neck, and the character in this [song] stares at the cross just to steady himself”—Bono, U2 by U2. My take as Bono shouted the opening line, “Uno, dos, tres, catorce” is that U2 sings of how dissonant this world is because of brokenness due to Adam’s Fall into sin and rebellion…that resulted in our own sin and brokenness. 1,2, 3…14? That makes no sense…and neither does this world many times. Just turn on the news. Or…just look around you…OR…just look WITHIN you. The wonder of the Biblical Christian World and Life View is that we have an answer as to why the world is so messed up. Sin and Satan are real. Thus Bono’s lyric in Vertigo…that he always sings with such clarity… “All of this, all of this can be yours All of this, all of this can be yours All of this, all of this can be yours Just give me what I want And no one gets hurt.” Bono is clearly reciting the devil’s words to Jesus during His temptation (Matthew 4:8-9). But not only does the Christian World View have an answer as to WHY the world is upside-down. The Gospel offers a solution..Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The only answer to the world’s Vertigo? Christ’s response to Satan: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Look at the Cross...and steady yourself.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
The second song of the concert at the LA forum on 5-27-15 was their first single, Out of Control. Bono has clearly explained the origin & meaning of the song. Bono: "Out Of Control is about waking up on your eighteenth birthday and realizing that you're 18 years old and that the 2 most important decisions in your life have nothing to do with you - being born and dying." The passing of U2's tour manager of 30 years was on my mind as I listened to the song...I would think it had to be on the mind of U2 as well. Bono sang the song with great passion and energy. At times, as he was swinging the mike on the mike stand, it almost seemed to me like he WAS feeling "Out of Control." He almost seemed...ANGRY. And why not? We SHOULD be angry at death! As he'd say later in the concert before the song, "Iris," U2 is family...and when they lost Dennis earlier in the day, they lost a family member. As Christ-followers, we OUGHT to be angry over death. Jesus was. In John 11:35, Jesus wept as He observed the grief of Mary & Martha over their brother's Lazarus' death. Lazarus was also a very dear friend of Jesus. I believe if Christ's tears could speak, one of the emotions they would claim is anger...anger at death...anger at the world as it is and not how it was originally created to be by the Father. As Christians, we have an explanation as to why death is so universal, yet so feels so painfully foreign to how we know that we know things should be. Death came into the world because of sin. But as followers of Christ, we also have hope because we know that death has been conquered. In this life, though, death is still hard. It hurts. It makes us ANGRY! It makes us feel...Out. Of. Control. I wonder if Bono experienced the frustration of being out of control when it comes to death. Another thing struck me as Bono sang the words of "Out of Control." Even as he sang the words and acted almost "Out of Control," the audience was NEVER Out of Control. Not even close. There's something different about people who attend U2 concerts. They're...well...nice. I struck up several conversations as we waited for U2 to come out. We all respected each other. Were kind to each other. Throughout the concert we even looked out for each other. Bono at times during concerts, has been known to say, "God is in the house!" As I looked around at the audience, some people (including me!) were seemingly in an attitude of worship (not of U2...but of the God Who is often behind U2 lyrics). Most, I'm sure, were just enjoying the concert...but somehow U2 attracts people who know that being truly "Out of Control" is uncool. Even when the song is Out of Control.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
U2ie (not the abbreviation for Ireland...or is it?), but the abbreviation for the Innocence-Experience Tour. I'll be blogging on the recent show I attended on May 27, in Inglewood, CA at the L.A. Forum. I'll take my time and share one song at a time. The concert begins. No warm up band. This is U2's Story. The stage is traditional on the one end, attached to a very long runway with a HUGE 2-sided screen that hangs over the runway. The long runway connects to a mini, pod-shaped stage at the other end. While the band sings certain songs, there is either animation or actual home video or pictures of home life while Bono and the lads are young that are shown. It was the most intimate and transparent of all the U2 shows I've seen. What made this show even more unique was the passing away of U2's long-time tour manager, Dennis Sheehan, the morning of the Show. Saddleback Church pastor and author Rick Warren described Dennis as "a calm and kind Christian man." I wondered throughout the day as I prayed for the guys: how would they be affected? I figured they'd either be flat...or flat-out crazy! Uh...they were not flat (I learned later that Rick Warren had been called in by U2 just before the show, to counsel with them, read Scripture to them and pray for them). So afterward, it all made sense. They were flat-out crazy this night! Bono told Warren: "We choose joy." These reflections are my own. I have never met Bono, so I don't know whether these reflections would fit with what he the rest of U2 may think. However, I have read a lot of Bono's own words and have read some great books chronicling their faith in Christ. I have also poured over the lyrics of their songs, blogging on many of them. "For those who have ears to hear..." Bono walks out singing "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). Right from the start I can tell that there is a special "energy" among U2 this night. Mystery is Present and The Spirit Moves in Mysterious Ways... I find it interesting that even the title of the first song reveals some mystery. It's called, simply, "The Miracle." Then, in parentheses, "(of Joey Ramone)." So, on one level, it is a tribute to Joey Ramone of the Ramones. Bono heard Ramone's voice and listened to his lyrics and something wonderful happened inside of him. Bono and the lads of U2 snuck into a Ramones concert and Bono was greatly encouraged by what he heard. But on another level, a level similar to the hidden meanings of the parables of Christ (another illustration Bono has used for his lyrics), the song speaks to me about The Miracle of Grace. I remember reading on several occasions where Bono says "U2 must be smart" about their faith in Christ. He once compared U2's approach to the early Christian church's symbol of the fish (IXTHUS). The Greek word for "fish" is used as an acrostic--IXTHUS=Jesus Christ God's Son Savior. A fish was often traced out on the sand or dirt by believers to reveal their faith, yet done in order to be smart and subtle. One person would trace the upper half of the fish symbol...and if the other person noticed it (and they would notice it if they were looking for it!) they would complete the other half. As a result, they would be able to engage in conversations about the Savior. Bono has said that U2 just sort of draw their fish in the sand. It's there for those who have eyes to see. For those who don't, they just enjoy the music at a different level. Hear are some of the key lyrics to me: I woke up at the moment When the miracle occurred Heard a song that made some sense Out of the world Everything I ever lost Now has been returned In the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. Sure, on one level this is about a young Bono resonating with the gifted artistry and power of Joey Ramone. Some say the lyrics refer to the Sirens' Song of Greek mythology and their power to entrance. But on another level, Bono is constantly singing about the "Song" and miracle of Grace. There are beautifully redemptive lyrics here: a song that made some sense out of the world. I couldn't help but wonder, that as Bono processed Dennis's death, whether these words took on even more depth..."I heard a song that made some sense out of the world." The Song of Grace for the Christ-follower can even make some sense out of death. Death for the Christian is not final, but has been overcome by Christ...."the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard." In other songs, U2 sings of "the sound" of grace, of the Gospel. Also, when one is "born again" in Christ, Scripture calls it The Miracle of the new birth. It is a "waking up" from the dead. I couldn't help but reflect upon my own conversion, "when the miracle occurred," and I "heard a song that made some sense out of the world." Then the beautifully redemptive lyrics that even remind me of the hymn, Amazing Grace: "Everything I ever lost, now has been returned." I once was lost...but I have been found. All that has been broken by the Fall is now being redeemed by grace. Near the end of the song Bono sings, "I get so many things I don't deserve." That. Is. Grace.