Bono’s Beatitudes

My brother gave me the 20th anniversary box set of U2’s Joshua Tree. This little gem not only has remastered versions of the original album; it has a second CD with tracks either originally intended for the album or closely associated with it (released with singles, etc.). Anyway, one of the songs on the second CD was particularly striking – Track 11, “Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)”. Bono wrote it in the wake of his experiences in Ethiopia. I’ve transcribed the lyrics below from the accompanying booklet (I could not find the lyrics anywhere on the web with a cursory search).

His contextualized “beatitudes” at the end of the song are worth noting — as are his references to Solomon (the son of the shepherd boy, David), the Queen of Sheba and Menelik (the Son of Sheba and Solomon according to the pseudepigraphal work, the Kebra Nagast [see Wikipedia article/Eng. trans.]).

I also found a great little clip on YouTube where Bono sings along with the song and explains its significance.

Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)

Heat haze rising on Hell’s own hill
To wake up this morning too an act of will
You walked through the night to get to today
To bring your children to give them a way

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

And if the rain came
And if the rain came now

Souls bent over without a breeze
Blankets on burning trees
I’m sick without disease
Nobility on its knees

And if the rain came
And if the rain came

Would it wash us all away
On a wave of sorrow
A wave of sorrow

Where now the holy cities
Where all the ancient holy scrolls
Where now the emperor Menelik
And the Queen of Sheba’s gold
You my bride wear her crown
On your finger a precious stone
Has every good thing now been sold

Oh son of shepherd boy now king
What wisdom can you bring
What lyric could 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, 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 have left their thrones
They are blessed in this valley of dry bones
Blessed are you with an empty heart
For you have nothing from which you cannot part
Blessed is the ego if it’s all we’ve got this hour
Blessed is the voice that speaks truth to power
Blessed is the sex worker’s body sold tonight
She works with what she got to save her children’s life
Blessed are the deaf who cannot hear her scream
Blessed are the stupid who can dream
Blessed are the tin can cardboard slums
And blessed is the spirit that overcomes