Ever tried to guess what Bono‘s lyrics mean and how he writes them? An interesting clip on their website gives a fascinating glimpse into the singer’s creative process. The group U2 has been re-visiting tracks from “The Joshua Tree”, and in particular an unfinished demo called “Wave of Sorrow“, a song “that was trying to describe experiences that myself and Ali had when we were working in Ethiopia during the famine,” according to Bono. In the extract, he explains what motivated him to write the lyrics, the symbolism he uses – in particular the contrast between the heritage of Ethopia (Queen of Sheba) and the stark reality today. He then sings along to the track, adding more asides. It’s interesting both for fans of U2 and anyone interested in songwriting, even if U2 are not your favourite band.
What strikes me – yet again – about this extract is Bono’s clear desire to be understood. Anyone that has seen the group in concert knows how communicative he is. This clip shows he applies the same desire to the lyrics. Although the symbolism is quite rich, he wants it to be understood.
Ultimately, I think it is one of the most endearing aspects of the band. Although there is often a strong spiritual aspect to what they do, they are not mysterious or obscure (unlike, for example, R.E.M.). I get the feeling that the band really wants people to “get” what they are doing.