Although Bono's lyrics sometimes seem simple at first glance or initial listen, there is always an unyielding spiritual deepness in their meaning. His lyrics, like U2s music, is never on the surface. Only a few listens to their latest stellar album, may seem just that. Where's the rich, dark, deep meaningful lyrics that helped make Achtung Baby one of the greatest albums in the history of music? Well, they're there and just like so many Bible stories or even verses alone, the magnitude of their meaning and purpose transcend to multiple levels - leaving me inspired. And if you're not a fan, I encourage you to open your heart and you too will be uplifted.
The purpose of my latest blog entry is to deconstruct their beautiful rock ballad/anthem, Every Breaking Wave - track two on Songs of Innocence. I'll explain how this song, although unique in its own way, mirrors all of their other songs. Behind the music, behind the lyrics, when stripped down it is what they all are. A hymn. A hymn as powerful as all the breaking waves that come our way.
The following is my own personal interpretation. With all great writing comes varying interpretations. Bono may have had a completely different story in mind. Although after years and years of reading the meaning behind his writing, I feel I'm pretty close to hitting the nail on the head.
Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next on there'll be one more
Breaking waves represent the fingertips of Satan. Later on in the song that I'll get to later, Bono refers to the sea being a friend turned enemy. Thee Enemy. And what Satan touches and ultimately destroys is overwhelming and can be frightening to anyone that doesn't put on their full suit of armor. His plans and ideas are to turn and churn our lives are relentless. Trickery that may begin as a trickle, only grows in strength - if we let it. We are the shore - or rather, all of God's goodness and light represent the shore. If untouched, waves crash and return to the sea...return to the enemy. But there's always one more. Always more temptation. Always a plan to destroy. And he's good at what he does. It can take us down, knock us out and be the burden on our backs that we can sometimes be so accustomed too, we don't realize it's there.
And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for
With every decision whether a choice concerning ourselves, our spouse, our family or our work, we are gambling. We, those of that are humble, hope with all of our hearts that whatever is decided is part of the path God wants us to take. Sometimes we lose. It isn't our purpose to lose or to fail, but it's part of our path no matter what. The agony of defeat over a wrong decision doesn't move us backwards. I don't believe we ever move backwards on God's path. We simply turn in another direction. We're here to lose. Jesus said, "For those that are first will be last and those that will be last will be first." What a great paradox!
Summer I was fearless
Now I speak into an answer phone
Now I speak into an answer phone
Summer in this case isn't talking about the season of the year, but rather a season of life - a specific period in our lives like all others that are enveloped in either fear, hope or recklessness. The character telling the story here is speaking of a time in his life that -for the lack of a better description - didn't go so well. Whether he exited that stage with reflection and realization is answered in the next line. The answer phone (also known as an answering machine/voice mail) symbolizes his calling out, his prayer for a new direction - guidance on how to change his current course.
Like every falling leaf on the breeze
Winter wouldn't leave it alone
We are all leaves close to falling. It's not a pessimistic view, just a statement about how fragile we are. The enemy knows this, hence his relentless waves. He wants us to crash. He knows how easily we fall from our trees as soon as a new season (winter) comes along. We hold on tightly, but it's inevitable - we fall. The question is, do we keep an eye on the shore. Do you see the footprints of the man who picks us up and carries us?
This ends the first stanza. The song only get more beautiful from here. I'll continue unwrapping these lyrics next time and explain that not all waves are necessarily the fingertips of the enemy, but rather choices in our lives. Satan wants to convince us that we must have everything. He wants to convince us that what we have is never enough. There's always more, more, more. If we keep chasing every breaking wave we divide ourselves from the things that really do matter - God, family, friends.