U2′s New/Old Song: Wave of Sorrow

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What lyrics would you sing?

When the name “Bono” is mentioned these days you are more likely to find yourself in a poverty conversation than a music one. Many have speculated the lead singer would soon be waning from the subject matter as often is the case for many celebrities/individuals and their various charitable interests. This said, you don’t earn a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for a simple side hobby.

It should be no surprise then that U2′s upcoming single finds its setting in Africa’s landscape. In a video interview released on the band’s website late last week, Bono not only performs the new single, he discusses its inspiration as he sings. What is fascinating about the new song is that it is actually an old one—originally written (at least partially) during the Joshua Tree recordings in the 80s. Bono had first visited Africa in 1984 as a result of Bob Geldof’s Live Aid. And although Bono’s participation in the relief effort was for the most part tabled until the late 90s, the interest and sorrow began during this first visit to Ethiopia—where he and his wife spent 6 weeks working at an orphanage.

The visit eventually inspired the following song “Wave of Sorrow” that was also tabled until this year. Taking his cues from both scripture and his own experience, Bono engages Solomon in a question that he seems to ask of himself: “What lyrics would you sing?”

“Waves of Sorrow” is an attempt to put reality to lyric. It breeds more questions that answers… questions of abandonment… the questions of possibilities… the questions of one’s own involvement.

Though the questions are left to ponder, Bono concludes the song by juxtaposing existing reality with the hope and belief of a greater one. In his own version of the Beatitudes, Bono speaks of the “blessed” in a way that can only leave one wondering about Christ’s own words (included below). And in a somewhat ironic fashion, Bono has made certain to not exclude himself from the mix: “Blessed is the ego/It’s all we got this hour” – as only a self proclaimed egomaniac could.

Would you not want to be included too? (Are you not?)



The song “Wave of Sorrow” will be released in conjunction with the remastered release of the Joshua Tree November 20th.


“Wave of Sorrow” (U2)

Wave of Sorrow
By U2

Heat haze rising
On hell’s own hill

You wake up this morning
It took an act of will
You walk through the night
To get here today
To bring your children
To give them away

Oh… oh this cruel sun
Is daylight never done
Cruelty just begun
To make a shadow of everyone

And if the rain came
And if the rain came

Souls bent over without a breeze
Blankets on burning trees
I am sick without disease
Nobility on it’s knees

And if the rain came
And if the rain came… now
Would it wash us all away
On a wave of sorrow
On a wave of sorrow

Where now the holy cities?
Where the ancient holy scrolls?
Where now Emperor Menelek?
And the Queen of Sheba’s gold

You’re my bride, you wear her crown
And on your finger precious stones
As every good thing now been sold

Son, of shepherd boy, now king
What wisdom can you bring?
What lyric would you sing?
Where is the music of the Seraphim?

And if the rain came
And if the rain came… now
Would it wash us all away
On a wave of sorrow
A wave of sorrow

Blessed are the meek who scratch in the dirt
For they shall inherit what’s left of the earth
Blessed are the kings who’ve left their thrones
They are buried in this valley of dry bones

Blessed all of you with an empty heart
For you got nothing from which you cannot part
Blessed is the ego
It’s all we got this hour

Blessed is the voice that speaks truth to power
Blessed is the sex worker who sold her body tonight
She used what she got
To save her children’s life

Blessed are you, the deaf cannot hear a scream
Blessed are the stupid who can dream
Blessed are the tin canned cardboard slums
Blessed is the spirit that overcomes


The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)

Jesus Christ said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”