Posts Tagged ‘U2’

It’s Holy Week. It’s a time where the story of Jesus invites us to engage with it a little more intentionally. There are many opportunities to experience worship services that are like no others during the year (and often include more focus on the story of Jesus and less focus on preachers). Below is a list of songs that perhaps will accompany you through this week. I like them. Maybe you will, too.

1. Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil – Comedian

The “King of the One Liners”  had us thrilled
Then came the punchline, now we want him killed
And when he’s gone…gone
Who gets the mic…if it’s on?

The Kickstarter-funded album Goliath was just released at the end of 2014 (and on vinyl and cassette on March 31). The more I listen to, the more I’m beginning to realize that it may just be an masterpiece. Highly recommended!

2. The Velvet Underground – Jesus

Help in my weakness,
’cause I’m falling out of grace.

Perhaps the most sincere prayer every put to music. It need not be more complicated than this.

3. U2 – Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday’s alright!

For some reason, this is the U2 song I always come back to as a metaphor for God’s grace. Also fun to watch Bono (inspired by The Screwtape Leters by C .S. Lewis) mocking the devil in front of a stadium crowd.

4. Red Wanting Blue – My Name Is Death

I’ve got a million weapons and ways to use ‘em:
From nuclear power to drugs and boozing.
But my favorite just might be the element of surprise.

There is no getting around it: death is real. At the cross of Calvary the whole Jesus-is-God-made-human thing reaches its climax. God is with us, even though the “grim reaper” is still lurking. Side note: Red Wanting Blue may be the greatest rock band you’re not hearing.

5. Flobots – Stand Up

We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
Except by a woman dying from the loss of food
Except by a freedom fighter bleeding on a cross for you

We shall not be moved
Except by a system thats rotten through
Neglecting the victims and ordering the cops to shoot
High treason now we need to prosecute

So Stand up

Let’s not forget that the Holy Week story is a story of revolution against persecution, a movement versus an empire. Jesus continues to be publicly executed today in every corner of the world because there is no standing up to evil without paying a dear price.

6. Bill Mallonee – In the New Dark Age (The Only Lamp Burning Bright is You)

All the masks came off and disguises were dropped
The game was declared over
Love was escorted out
There was hardly a shout
I’ll take the crimson & clover

Bill Mallonee‘s songs capture the scandal of Holy Week: the life of faith is not for the faint of heart. True religion is not escapism or self-help; it spends its time in the muck and misery of the world.

7. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

Well I’m so above you, and it’s plain to see,
But I came to love you anyway.
So you pulled my heart out,
And I don’t mind bleeding,
Any old time you keep me waiting (waiting…waiting).

The cross. Plain and simple. Jesus is the lonely boy who won’t stop waiting (waiting…waiting).

 8. Sister Gertrude Morgan – I Am the Living Bread

There is something simply transcendent about the voice of an elderly New Orleans street evangelist armed with only her voice and a tambourine. I recommend Sister Gertrude Morgan‘s entire album.

9. Rez – Rooster Crow

This short bluesy intro to the Innocent Blood LP cuts me to the heart every time I hear it. Peter’s denial is the stuff of blues. My favorite moment from an evangelical Christian rock band that consistently stood against injustice and American feel-good Christianity.

 10. The Swirling Eddies – The Twist

here, touch my side…let doubt be crucified
nailed with your wounded pride to love’s grim altar
here, taste my flesh: my bloody humanness
i am no phantom guest; no skinless martyr

This one’s a pretty straightforward meditation on the Holy Week story from one of the great bands anchored by the songwriting of Terry Scott Taylor (see also Daniel Amos & The Lost Dogs).


That’s my playlist. What would you add?


Below is a video and lyrics to the next U2 single…and first great hymn of 2009…enjoy!

Oh, magnificent

I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven’t had a clue

Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart
Black and blue

Only love
Only love can leave such a mark
But only love
Only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice
But to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry
It was a joyful noise

Oh, oh
Only love
Only love can leave such a mark
But only love
Only love can heal such a scar

till we die
You and I
will magnify
Oh, the magnificent


Only love
Only love can leave such a mark
But only love
Only love unites our hearts

till we die
You and I
will magnify
Oh, the magnificent

I’ve listened to the new U2 record “No Line on the Horizon” (in stores March 3rd) and am beginning to put some thoughts together on it. As I listen to it, I’m mindful that my relationships with U2 records are always long-term committed affairs. At this point, I think we’ll get along fine…but we’ll need to get to know each other.

The adjective that kept coming to mind the first time through was “brooding”. While repeated listens seem to be suggesting something other than “brooding”, I’d have to say that “Get On Your Boots” does not offer a very accurate peek in the window as the lead single for the record.

Bono’s voice sounds great throughout the record. The Edge’s guitars are in place. Adam & Larry drive the songs as I’d expect and hope from them. I suspect that Brian Eno probably ought to be credited as the “the fifth Beatle” on this project, which seems, at nearly every turn, to reflect his penchant for ambience and electronic noises kicking around in the background. Most of the time it comes alongside some undeniably “Edge-y” guitar sonics.

I also keep finding myself thinking at times that this record wants to carry the markings of “late masterpieces” like Sergeant Pepper’s or Pet Sounds or the White Album (for good and for ill).

This record is just about the opposite of a collection of hit singles (thankfully, U2 has never tried that approach). The potential singles (after the already released “Boots”) are probably “Magnificent”, “Breathe”, “No Line on the Horizon” and “I Know I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (which I would predict will find a spot at or near the beginning of the upcoming tour’s nightly setlists). “Stand Up Comedy” might make it to radio, too.

The record starts off strong, soaring and anthemic with the title track and “Magnificent”. Guitars up front with electronic noises in the back that sort of switch places at times during “Magnificent”. The title track has a bit of an Arcade Fire feel to it.

The song most likely to be remembered in 10 or 20 years is “Moment of Surrender”.

The emphasis in “Stand Up Comedy” is on “Stand Up”. Along with “Boots”, it resurrects the cheekiness that was ever present in the Zoo TV and Popmart concerts.

“FEZ – Being Born” is the opposite of a radio-ready hit single. Starts out sounding like a remix, with looping samples of “Get on Your Boots”. Sort of Radiohead-esque at times. It might just be brilliant.

“White as Snow” is like no U2 song I can recall. Again, slow and brooding with a sort of spaghetti western guitar sound. For some reason, the melody brought to mind the Advent Hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel”. On some level, the two songs might be connected by more than their music. Made me think of Johnny Cash working with Rick Rubin.

“Breathe” would probably be a more appropriate (and probably better) single than “Get on Your Boots”. Here’s a video of the band premiering the song on French TV:

“Cedars of Lebanon” ends the record in a way familiar to U2: instead of a climactic grand finale they offer an understated, reflective, and even melancholy final scene. The song ends with such stark suddenness that it almost stings as much as “Wake Up Dead Man” did on 1997’s POP.

Lyrics to the songs are available here (I’ll also mention that is a great and reputable fansite).

I’m starting to feel a connection to the songs after 2-3 listens. This was the longest hiatus between records in U2’s entire career. I hope the wait is not as long for the next one.

Below is a “video Christmas card” from my family to yours this blessed season. Our prayer is that you know peace and joy in ways that inspire you to be courageous and imaginative in the way you love others.

The video was shot on our digital camera while in center city Philadelphia. It features Amber as “the Cherub”. The song is called “I Believe in Father Christmas” and was written by Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer fame). The lyrics I use come from the version that U2 recorded this year for (RED)Wire. Here they are:

They said there’d be snow at christmas
They said there’d be peace on earth
But instead it just keeps on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth

I remember on Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell; that Christmas tree smell
eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
They sold me a fairy story
But I believe in the Israelite

I believed in father Christmas
I looked at the sky with excited eyes
‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

They said there’d be snow at Christmas
They said there’d be peace on earth
Hallelujah, noel, be it heaven or hell
Christmas we get what we deserve

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

May peace be yours this Christmas….