As children of the eighties, my wife and I are huge fans of the band U2. The two of us have known each other for a long time and we saw U2 live together on their Achtung Baby tour in the early 90’s. One was a favorite song on that album and listening to it still gives me a reminiscently visceral experience. A blog about oneness, written by this author, would not be complete without incorporating this song.
I’ve lived the majority of my life using the left side of my brain. I studied engineering in college and made a career in business, utilizing my pragmatic, analytic strengths. I’ve always enjoyed music, but I never spent much time thinking about the meaning of the songs I love. Often, I didn’t even pay attention to the words. When singing along with the music, driving in my car, the lyrics tended to be more sounds than words. I always find reading lyrics of popular songs a fun experience because it’s common to discover that the words you thought you heard are entirely different from what’s written and what the vocalist is actually singing.
Taking the time to read the lyrics of the songs you love creates a deeper connection to the music. Here we find a connection of body and mind. Our bodies respond to the music and our minds respond to the words and together they can touch our souls. There is a beautiful oneness in this experience. On Day 5, we looked at the song Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons and broke down the lyrics to that song which gave it a more special meaning to me. I appreciate that song so much more when I hear it now, but as it was released in 2009, it has only impacted the last ten years of my life.
One by U2, on the other hand, came out the year my wife and I started dating in high school and it encompasses the entirety of our relationship together including all of our ups and downs. When it comes on the radio unexpectedly, we know this is one of our special songs. We don’t have to look at each other in acknowledgement, we just know.
Funny enough, I did some research about the meaning of the lyrics recently. In an article on Auralcrave.com, I discovered the story behind the creation of this song which has become one of their all time most popular. It turns out that the band was on the brink of separation. But one day during, “another unproductive afternoon in the studio,” according to the article, a miracle melody manifest and they rallied behind it. Apparently, the lyrics were inspired by a festival called Oneness to which the band had been invited by the Dalai Lama, according to an article on amerciansongwriter.com by Andrew Leahy.
One was the result. U2 stayed together and they continued to build on the huge success they had already established.
In the Leahy article mentioned above, he writes:
“The song is a bit twisted,” Bono explained in Neil McCormick’s U2 by U2, “which is why I could never figure out why people want it at their weddings. I have certainly met a hundred people who’ve had it at their weddings. I tell them, ‘Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!’”
Even though I did not know the history of the song at the time, somehow my wife and I knew not to make One our wedding song. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even part of our DJ’s playlist. But there is no denying the song’s meaning and its truth as it relates to us. There is a realness to it. Life is messy, but in the end, U2 kept it together and as one band they achieved huge success and inspired so many. They loved each other. They worked through their challenges and they persevered. I include my wife and I among the inspired. We are glad that U2 stayed together and that they are still one.
Today, enjoy a little early 90’s throwback. Here’s U2’s One: