Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where the Streets have No Name

Have you ever heard that the song, Where the Streets have No Name is about the Kingdom of Heaven?

In the first verse of the song Bono states “I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.” He longs to leave his earthly body.
When he states “when I go there, I go there with you, it’s all I can do,” he is talking to God or Jesus (or perhaps other gods, from other religions).

In longing for heaven he states, “I want to feel sunlight on my face, I see the dust clouds disappear without a trace. I want to take shelter from the poison rain where the streets have no name.”

On the Live in Boston DVD, Bono introduces the song from the more spiritual perspective, saying to the audience, “we’re going to give back to God for the blessings he poured out at the time of the salvation.”

LYRICS:
I wanna run
I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I wanna feel sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear without a trace
I wanna take shelter from the poison rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building
Then burning down love,
Burning down love
And when I go there
I go there with youIt's all
I can doThe city's a flood
And our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building
Then burning down love,
Burning down love
And when I go there
I go there with you
It's all I can do
Our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh yes, in dust
See our love turn to rust
And we're beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh, when I go there
I go there with you
It's all I can do

4 comments:

John Fraiser said...

Guiseppi,

What a fine blog you have here. Look for me to visit often.

I've always liked U2's music and appreciated Bono's endeavor to sing about more than the mundane. His music often has a transcendent quality to it. If your interpretation is correct and Bono does view his earthly body as walls that hold him inside and wants to be released from it, then his theology has more in common with Plantonism than it does Christianity. Plato viewed the body as the prison house of the soul, from which a person was only freed upon death. Paul on the other hand views us as having a treasure in these jars of clay known as our bodies (2 Cor 4:7). Paul doesn't desire to be unclothed from his body but to be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Cor 5:4). Paul awaits the resurrection when what is sown as perishable is raised imperishable (1 Cor 15:42). For Christianity the body is as important as the soul.

I'm not so much directing this at you as I am at Bono. His view of the kingdom seems to be one that is immaterial, made up only of some spiritual substance. A theology class or two would help him be better song writer, though he's certainly leagues beyond the abismal emptiness of current pop music. -John

Guiseppi said...

Thank you John for your thoughtful response. I wouldn't think many people would see that as clearly as you did.

I would consider myself a dichotomist (avoiding the error of Platonism), agreeing with everything you have said.

As far as Bono, well I just hope he (they) create good music.

michael preston said...

Good insights Joe. If you watch the Boston DVD again you will (faintly) hear Bono saying something during the introduction to this fine song. He's reciting Psalm 119 as translated by Eugene Peterson's Message.

"What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation -- A toast to God! I'll pray in the name of God; I'll complete what I promised God I'd do, And I'll do it together with his people."

Here's a link that will explain the connection. http://www.atu2.com/news/connections/peterson/

Say what you may about Bono's theology or lack thereof. I believe that the greatest benefit this tune brings to the church is the tangible sense of expectation. The song creates (at least in me) a yearning for absolute redemption. The website that is linked above has a page listing some of the biblical references in U2's songs. One of their best in my opinion is "The First Time". Thanks - Michael P.

Adam said...

While intrepretations are fine and dandy, the following came from the artist himself, so I'd believe this over anything else:

"Where the Streets Have No Name is more like the U2 of old than any of the other songs on the LP, because it’s a sketch - I was just trying to sketch a location, maybe a spiritual location, maybe a romantic location. I was trying to sketch a feeling. I often feel very claustrophic in a city, a feeling of wanting to break out of that city and a feeling of wanting to go somewhere where the values of the city and the values of our society don’t hold you down.
‘An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they’re making - literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become. You can almost tell what the people are earning by the name of the street they live on and what side ot that street they live on. That said something to me, and so I started writing about a place where the streets have no name...."