Lit & Lyric: Achtung Baby

"Tarheel" Tim Striplin (

The song "Mysterious Ways" was clearly inspired by Oscar Wilde's play Salome. The lyrics speak to the protagonist "Johnny" who is "living underground." Read the play and then listen to the song again, substituting "[the Holy] Spirit" for the word "she" in the chorus... "Spirit moves in mysterious ways." Then watch the ZooTV Sydney staging of "Mysterious Ways." I guarantee that you will hear and see the song in a whole new way. More on this later...

Note: The submitter promised to send back the full essay after it was presented at a conference. We make it a policy to not harrass people, even if we want to, and so we waited. The essay was never received.

Angela Pancella (

An addition Tim Striplin made to his "Mysterious Ways" essay on Wire, with corrected French by Karine Maucourt: "On ne peut pas savoir comment Dieu agit, ses voies sont tres mysterieuses. Peut-etre ce que nous appelons le mal est le bien, et ce que nous appelonsle bien est le mal. On ne peut rien savoir. Tout ce que nous pouvons faire c'est de sesoumettre en tout."

"One cannot know how God acts (sets in motion, affects). His ways are very mysterious ways. Maybe what we call evil is good, and what we call good is evil. One cannot know anything. All we can do is submit in everything." -Oscar Wilde, Salome

Note: For the perplexed, Wire was an online U2 fan mailing list. The original is no more.

EBTTRT: "The sun won't melt our wings tonight"--a reference to the Greek myth of Icarus; Daedalus made wings for his son Icarus and himself out of feathers and wax. He warned his son not to fly too high but he did anyway. The sun melted the wings and he fell into the sea.

Megan (

Mark 10:25- "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Compare this to- "Took an open-topped beatle (our modern day version of the camel) through an eye of a needle." (Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World.)

Matthew 24:29- "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."

Compare this to- "It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky/ It's no secret that our world is in darkness by the moon/ You know I don't see her (moon) when she walks in the room..." (The Fly)

Hebrews 11:12- "So from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore."

WOWY added verse? "..And we'll shine like the stars in the summer sky/ We'll shine the stars in the winter night..."

Angela Pancella (

Raymond Carver's poem "Suspenders" has the line "quiet that comes to a house where nobody can sleep," the genesis of a similar line in "Ultraviolet."

UTEOTW's dialogue between Judas and Jesus was largely inspired by "The Book of Judas," a series of poems by the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly.

Until the End of the World:

We ate the food, we drank the wine...I took the money, I spiked your drink...In the garden I was playing the tart, I kissed your lips and broke your heart...

See Judas and Jesus in Matthew 14-15, 20-29, 47-49.

So Cruel:

Between the horses of love and lust we are trampled underfoot...

2 Kings 9:33 (The death of Jezebel): "' Throw her down!' Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot."

Mysterious Ways:

Tarheel Tim's taken care of this one. The Biblical story of Salome can be found in Mark 6: 17-29.

Garth T Beaven/ Contributor: Megan (

About light:
Job says-
How I long for the months gone by,
for the days when God watched over me,
when his lamp shone upon my head
and by his light I walked through darkness!

U2 says-
Your love was a light bulb
Hanging over my bed
Baby, baby, baby light my way

About death:
Job says-
I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
I despise my life; I would not live forever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.

U2 says -
Sometimes I feel like I don't know
Sometimes I feel like checking out

About God's love as treasure:
Job says-
Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure?

U2 says-
You bury your treasure
Where it can't be found
But your love is like a secret
That's been passed around

About dark nights and long days:
Job says-
Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages,
so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.

U2 says -
Wipe the tears from your eyes
You know I need you to be strong
And the day is as dark as the night is long

About feeling really rotten:
Job says -
When I lie down I think, 'How long before I get up?'
The night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.

U2 says -
Feel like trash

Milena (

In "Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World" Bono says: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Well, there is this book by Arthur Bloch called "Murphy's Law and Other Reasons Why Things go Wrong!" and in it the author says: "A man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle." Pretty slick, huh? There could be numerous interepretations to that and I would like to hear what other people think about it. I hope it could be added to the other sources that you have - it gives one more side to Bono and his music.

John Soltis (

Note: No direct lyric and then literature here, but the reference is important. Read on...

Bono used to quote lines from this W.B. Yeats poem in the live version of "Love is Blindness" on the ZooTV tour.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Rose (

I came across this in my The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats book the other day: "In dreams begins responsibility." It isn't a line from any of the poems, but used as a quote to in a way introduce another phase of Yeats' work. It's credit simply reads Old Play. I don't know what Old Play is, if it's the actual title of something or a descriptive term to call something with no name. If anyone knows PLEASE e-mail me!

Oh, yeah, the U2 connection... The line resembles a lyric in Achtung Baby track "Acrobat". The clip goes like this: "You can stash/ And you can seize/ In dreams begin/ Responsibilities..." Sounds like Bono could tell me what this Old Play is.

Note: Several days after writing this, I logged into Excite and I've got the Quote of the Day thing enabled. Anyway, the quote was the exact same "In dreams begins responsibility" as quoted above. But the credit was given to Yeats. I didn't say in which play or poem, though. Can anyone clear this up?

Pia Lauridsen (

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities was Delmore Schwartz's first book, of short stories, from 1938. He lived 1913-66, was American, and wrote mostly short stories and poems.

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