Tag Archives: With or Without You

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #48

I’m listening to Bono’s memoir Surrender and loving it. I am finding myself thinking about what was going on in my life when he is talking about recording a song, writing a poem, being on tour, becoming a parent, getting married, being in that force of nature and brotherhood that is the band U2. I wasn’t expecting his story to have so much resonance with mine and all the reasons I have loved the band for so long are being revisited.

U2 was often on the turntable, or CD player in the house and car being one of THE bands forming the soundtrack of my child raising years. The poetic and the romantic expressions of universal themes always seem to find me.

The sound and this brotherhood – the Zen master of the guitar The Edge, the sparse intense intimacy of Adam on bass, the relentless demand of Larry on drums and the ache and urging of Bono – I am grateful for the music and the leadership they have shown in and out of the studio. 

The ability for sound to hold meaning and to be held by that meaning over and over again is like a universal prayer. It is the form and function of call and response that refuses to budge, and I am never released. The voice, the vocation, the call, the response and the consequent spiralling, like the nautilus swimming through an ocean, this pilgrim is moving into new waters. 

I learnt recently a nautilus has an extremely rare ability to withstand being brought to the surface from its deep natural habitat without suffering any apparent damage from the experience, able to withstand the incredible changes in pressure. I am drawing inspiration from this ancient mollusc as I come into the new role of Mayor. There has been a change in pressure as I am washed onto another shore, I am hanging onto the nautilus to hold me and remembering the rhythm and the tides, like the music of U2 keeping me afloat in an ocean of sounds and calls demanding a response.

Listening to the book also has me listening to some old U2 tracks like Pride, Desire, Streets with no name, With or Without You, and remembering, with great love, old conversations. Grief is sneaky and Bono’s voice has been its midwife this week amidst all the new learning, new pressures and new opportunities emerging.

There have been some disturbing moments this week with the ongoing 16 days of activism gendered violence and noticing how that violence shows up. Got to watch Brazen Hussies again this week in a community setting and in conversation with strangers. I was very unsettled by how far we have come and how far we still have to come. And the soundtrack of that doco was full of chants and the familiar voice of Helen Reddy. In the course of the week, I watched a bully use all his tools to try and intimidate a young woman, she drew on the wisdom and advice of others and easily found her voice and resisted. I celebrated her. I heard myself into speech about some moments in the election campaign where violence turned up. I am still working on myself to replace thoughts of violence rooted in judgements, to be replaced with thoughts and acts of empathy. I have plenty of opportunities to practice!

These thoughts, private and invisible, are invitations to transformation. My reluctance to embrace these invitations has been visible here and there this week. The lyrics of With or Without You have been swirling around in my head to accompany these thoughts. Bono wrote the lyrics as a tussle with himself, a bit like the idea that we take ourselves wherever we go whether we like it or not, and how we sometimes have to wait for parts of ourselves to catch up with other parts.

And you give, and you give, as you give yourself away is an invisible earworm making another spiral in the nautilus. When I do an exegesis on the line and listen again to the track, I discover the music, emptied of lyrics for almost half of the track, is the response to the call.  The spaces between the notes, the combination of sounds and instruments, the complexity of the mix, making a sonic ocean for the lyrics to land on the shore. Another U2 lesson to take with me into my internal and invisible places of resistance, resilience and surrender.

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I’ll wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails, she makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm, we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you, ah, ah
I can’t live
With or without you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you, oh
I can’t live
With or without you
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

With or without you
With or without you, oh
I can’t live
With or without you

With or without you

Songwriters: Adam Clayton / Dave Evans / Larry Mullen / Paul David Hewson

With Or Without You lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group