I’ve been thinking again about U2 since I’m finally reading Bill Flanagan’s excellent book U2 at the End of the World. I’m struck by a number of things (aside from how little Bono seems to sleep when he’s on tour) but especially the way the band continues to tinker with their show to make it more say what want it to say and to react to what’s going on in the world and in their lives.
That made, for me, a connection to the song “Yahweh”, one of my favorites from How To Dismantle and Atomic Bomb. I had some questions about the use of the Muslim crescent and the Jewish star a friend helped me sort through that. What I haven’t seen anywhere, though, is the way the band changed the last line the night I saw them and, I assume, had been for the entire leg of the tour – perhaps for the whole tour. The line on the album is “take this heart and make it break.” An allusion that most people with a Bible background understand – PS 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
U2 usually uses “Yahweh” as the last song for the evening coming right after they sing “40,” a version of Psalm 40 with a bit of Psalm 6 thrown in for good measure. In concert, though, when I saw them, Bono sang “take this city’s heart and keep it safe,” That turn of the phrase turns the song from a personal confession (and quite a remarkable one at that) into a benediction. Bono once again changes the lyrics to fit the setting and does it in a way that blesses everyone. I really like this band.
9 months ago