Thursday, March 03, 2005

God, Part II

I'm reading Steve Stockman's book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 and I noticed that he missed the point of the beginning of one of U2s songs - rare for him, I think, because most of his comments are right on target.

The song "God, Part II" is, indeed, about John Lennon and starts out with the lines "I don't believe the devil, I don't believe the book" which Stockman takes as a counterpoint to the litany of things Lennon does not believe in as listed in the song "God" from JL's Plastic Ono Band album. (This is a great album, by the way, just don't listen to it if you're already depressed.) The lines in this case are more about The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman - a book that was released just before Rattle and Hum was released which said many negative things about Lennon. There was a bit of a controversy with the book's release and this song was Bono's two cents defending Lennon's legacy. The devil in the first line is Goldman

I disagree with Stockman's assessment and, it seems to me that he entirely missed the book connection.

3 comments:

jystewart said...

Steve's just finished work on a new edition of Walk On which should be on the shelves shortly. No idea if he caught that when doing the revisions. Maybe worth pointing out to him when he's back at Calvin in April for the Festival of Faith and Music?

Beth said...

Just my 2 cents: multiple meanings, as usual. Yes, the devil is Goldman and the book is his Lennon biography, *and* the lyric is worded such that you can also hear it with a more general reference, *and* it echoes Lennon's "God" in its structure. We get all three.

I have a sermon on this song in "Get Up Off Your Knees," and I elected not to mention the specific Goldman references because I thought they'd start listeners on a rabbit trail - I just slipped in a quick sentence about the song having a primary reference to Lennon. Perhaps more excusable in a sermon than in a historical book though....?

Bob K said...

Thanks, Beth - my issue was that he didn't mention it AT ALL and it seemed like he completely missed the reference. In fact, didn't they record the song after the album was essentially done because the book came out and irritated them so much?