The poetry of growth and loss — Bono and U2

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Last Sunday I was driving home from Altoona, about a 40 minute drive, after having served as a supply priest for a small parish. It was a glorious afternoon and I had the topdown all the way. That calls for music and U2 was at hand. I set it all (and I believe I have all of their songs) on shuffle. The song “Kite” came on and although I have heard this song hundreds of times, I had never really listened to the lyrics.

The Wiki article says that the inspiration was an aborted attempt by Bono and his to fly a kite one day with his daughters.

Guitarist The Edge assisted Bono in writing the lyrics and felt that they were actually about Bono’s emotionally-reserved father, Bob Hewson, who was dying of cancer at the time: “[Bono] couldn’t see it, but I could.”

I can too. There is little doubt in my mind. In particular, there are the lines:

I wonder what’s gonna happen to you

You wonder what has happened to me

This encapsulates so beautifully the moment when we begin to contemplate what lies beyond this life. “I wonder what’s gonna happen to you.” And for the parent, looking at their child and seeing a woman, a man; someone they know and yet they realize it is someone who has experiences, thoughts, and beliefs beyond their own.

Bono and the boys have so many songs like this, touching on life, death, and faith. “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” is particularly full, including “Stuck in a Moment,” a song that Bono has said was what he wished he had said to his friend and lead from INXS Michael Hutchence who had committed suicide. “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” and the song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your own” were inspired by Bono’s own father who had died of cancer.

Bono said, “Actually, I was talking about my father, Bob. He was the atomic bomb in question, and when he died (he) set off a chain reaction in me and I’ve been shouting about him and giving off (sic) about him and complaining about him and screaming about him for the last few years and maybe tonight [Grammy’s] is a time to stop.
“It’s really a great, great moment for me personally. I want to thank my father, Bob, for giving me the voice and a bit of attitude to use it.”

I will make no other observations but leave you with the lyrics for Kite (see below the video) which are well worth contemplating and this short clip of Bono being asked about his belief in God and Christ.1

Kite

U2

Something

Is about to give

I can feel it coming

I think I know what it is

I’m not afraid to die

I’m not afraid to live

And when I’m flat on my back

I hope to feel like I did

And hardness

It sets in

You need some protection

The thinner the skin

I want you to know

That you don’t need me anymore

I want you to know

You don’t need anyone

Or anything at all

Who’s to say where the wind will take you

Who’s to say what it is will break you

I don’t know

Which way the wind will blow

Who’s to know when the time has come around

Don’t want to see you cry

I know that this is not goodbye

It’s somewhere I can taste the salty sea

There’s a kite blowing out of control on the breeze

I wonder what’s gonna happen to you

You wonder what has happened to me

I’m a man

I’m not a child

A man who sees

The shadow behind your eyes

Who’s to say where the wind will take you

Who’s to say what it is will break you

I don’t know

Where the wind will blow

Who’s to know when the time has come around

I don’t want to see you cry

I know that this is not goodbye

Did I waste it

Not so much I couldn’t taste it

Life should be fragrant

Rooftop to the basement

The last of the rocks stars

When hip-hop drove the big cars

In the time when new media

Was the big idea

What was the big idea

 
  1. I confess to wondering why this interviewer seemed annoyed by Bono’s answer. Anyone know the context of this interview? []

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