This song almost got to be about the terrorism in Northern Ireland. If you listens to it with that in mind it almost fits perfectly.
In an parked car, on an crowed street (car bomb)
Love is clockworks, love is cold steel (A bomb is produced by steel and controlled by an clock)
No call, no warning (Since when did terrorist warn thier victims?)
A common misinterpretion in my opinion is that this one acctually is about love and sex but I think that's wrong. The love that Bono is talking about is most probaly not the one between man and woman, it's probably about the love you feel for your country and what you believe in.
The song is (I think) about the misguided love the terrorist feels for his country and that it leads to totally blindness - blindess for what you are fighting for, the act of violence becomes a purpose in it self. Blindness can also be interpreted as stupidity and I belive that U2 tries to say that terrorism, and this extreme form of nationalism, is really stupid.
Mike Nickelson (nickelsoncsus.edu) told me that if you listen towards the end of the song you can make out a subliminal ticking sound which is out of time with the rhythm. This, along with the feedback guitar fury and Bono's droning chant ending brings to mind an impending bomb attack.
Jonas Steverud (Maintainer of U2MoL) (contributed at an unknown date)
Just stoppin by to say that the ticking at the end of the song is not out of rhythm, it's like this:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 x x x x x x x x x x
Larry dominique2gmx.de (26:th of September 2002)
This song could also be about the Edge and his wife. "Love is clockworks and cold steel, fingers too numb to feel." Guitar strings are made out of steel, and when you play too much, your fingers will go numb. "The thread is ripping, the knot is slipping" - when you marry, you tie the knot, if the knot slips, the marriage slips. So The Edge spending too much time away from his wife for his music could be the culprit. [This is consistent with some other reports on the web, maybe this is closer to the truth then the terrorist theory. /Jonas]
Brian Thomas pop_martianhotmail.com (10th of October 2006)