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wondering about Faith

by | Apr 2, 2021 | Faith, U2, wonder

The wonder of Good Friday is back upon us.  The Faithful focus on 3 major events in the year, and you can get a good argument going on which is the “most” important.  It would mirror the conversation in the Upper Room last night – who is the most important Disciple?  Who is the favorite, who has the most important role in the team?  The bickering and fighting, jockeying for position…it is really a wonder that like many leaders, he would have thought twice about going through with the plan.  After all, were they really worth the price that was to be paid?

David Evans was a middle child born in England to Welsh parents.  Receiving his first guitar at 7, he and his older brother tinkered around with it, trying different strings, tuning, and both became good players.  He was now in Ireland because his dad took a promotion, and shifted between speaking with a Welsh accent at home and an Irish accent with his friends.  Like Bono, he joined the Lypton Gang and was given the name we now know him by – either for the shape of his head, or because he was quieter and stood off… at The Edge.  He and his brother had come to the audition at Larry’s house, and now the Edge was the remaining guitar player.

His family took a trip to New York in 1978, and as a 17 year old, he could care less about the sights.  He was looking forward to going to one of the world’s famous guitar stores – Stuyvesant Music.  He was looking for a guitar that could become his go-to instrument as the band was starting to take off, and knowing that looks meant as much as sound, one caught his eye.  Originally Gibson’s response to the futuristic Stratocaster in the ‘50s, the Explorer is an odd guitar shape – like a trapezoid that folds back on itself.  He thought it was perfect, and brought it back to Ireland, and it became his instrument for most of the performances and recordings for the first 10 albums. (And yes, I have one…in his honor)

The Edge by this point had become the classic guitar player – searching and wondering about new tones and sound, and the iconic sound of U2 is formed with Bono’s singing, sure, but his guitar wizardry is now legendary.  For the War album, while Bono was honeymooning, he was working on some new ideas.  Following an argument with his girlfriend, and a period of doubt in his own songwriting abilities, the Edge—”feeling depressed… channeled [his] fear and frustration and self-loathing into a piece of music”.  The simple 2 note riff, coupled with the thundering tones of Larry’s drum riff, provided the perfect backdrop for lyrics that Bono supplied upon his return. 

Being Irish, they had watched first hand the horrors of War – the “Troubles” of the attack on Bloody Sunday – not just in 1972, but also in 1920.  They also didn’t want to take sides as much as talk about the pointlessness OF the sides. And no wonder – their fellowship including both Catholics and Protestants, they had seen up close that the sides meant less if you really followed the leader’s principles – love, peace, forgiveness… and most of all, sacrifice for others. The song is one of the top 10 protest songs listed by Time magazine, one of the top 500 most important songs on Rolling Stone’s list, and more than that, catapulted U2 into playing arenas and out of small club venues.  

This early live performance would go into rapid rotation on MTV, and demonstrate to the world the power of the band – vocally, performing, and capturing the spirit of change that was starting to move through music in the early ‘80s.  And with their foundations established both lyrically and sonically, U2 was ready for it. What carefully as Bono dutifully marches to the front of the stage and plants vigorously the flag – the White Flag – of surrender, right in the middle of the stage.

As we are again faced with the wonder of our Faith, I think this song, while referencing Sunday, really fits more for this Friday.  What can we learn from these lyrics for ourselves and our teams?  I wonder how many times you are pulled into situations with sides… I know that was a classic place i would be – at first on one of those sides, fighting to win for…what? Mostly just to win… and then eventually at the top – realizing that only together could we really be successful as a group. As this leader saw the derision in the Upper Room, I wonder if he thought like many “what is the point?”  

Like Gloria, these lyrics are again explicitly linked to scripture: from Matthew 10:35 (“mother’s children; brothers, sisters torn apart”), Revelation 21:4 (“wipe your tears away”), and bring a twist to 1 Corinthians 15:32 (“we eat and drink while tomorrow they die”, instead of “let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die”).  The song finishes with a wonderful call for the Irish – for all of us – red/blue, white/black rural/urban….  to stop fighting each other, and “claim the victory Jesus won…on Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight
We can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead-end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up, puts my back up against the wall
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Alright, let’s go

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trenches dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight we can be as one, tonight
Tonight, tonight (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Tonight, tonight (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Alright, let’s go

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
I’ll wipe your tears away
I’ll wipe your tears away (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
I’ll wipe your bloodshot eyes (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
And it’s true we are immune

When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
The real battle just begun (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
To claim the victory Jesus won (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
On Sunday, Bloody Sunday, yeah
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

 

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