Achtung Baby

Mysterious Ways

  1. I think it is so obvious that it is about the moon. If there's some deeper meaning I must have missed it. For one, it says "the moon". For two, the moon is often reffered to as a she and myterious. For three, the moon turns the tide. For four, lift my days, light up my nights, well, that would be the moon again. Also note the moon that is there throughtout the entire video.

    Bobbie Jo Richey erichey@virtualwebdesign.com (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)

  2. I believe the song is about the holy spirit for a number of different reasons. Firstly there is a famous bible quote "the Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways", hence the name of the song. Secondly in the final chorus, the lyrics change from "she movies in mysterous ways" to "spirit move s in mysterious ways". Thirdly, the quote "if you wanna kiss the sky better learn how to kneel" quite obviously refers to praying (kneeling) to go to heaven (Kissing the sky). Fourthly, a moon can't "talk about the things you can't explain" can't "see the man inside the child" and can't "be there when you hit the ground", but the Holy Spirit can.

    Jonathan Lowe jlowe@gizmo.maths.monash.edu.au ( 1:st of November 1998)

  3. The story in Mt 14.3-11 is about the death of St. John the Baptist. St. John is known as Jokanaan in Oscar Wilde's play, and simply as Johnny in U2's version.

    The opening line of Mysterious Ways introduces us not only to Johnny, but to the moon. The moon plays a prominent role in Wilde's Salome. This detail is given only as minor evidence of the links between the works of U2 and Wilde.

    Now, the "she" that is referred to in the song's title, verses, and choruses, is Salome, daughter of Herodias, princess of Judea. In the biblical story, and the play, Herodias' husband, Herod, promises Salome anything if she will dance for him. Salome dances, and then demands St. John's head on a platter.

    A quick summary of points connecting U2 with Wilde:

    1. The "underground" that Johnny lives in is representative of the cistern in which he was kept in Salome.
    2. Johnny running away from what he doesn't understand, love, echoes Jokanaan's refusal of Salome's advances in Wilde's play.
    3. In concert, Bono will occasionally substitute "She's the wave / She turns the tide" with "She wants you / you don't know why." The change in these lines takes us back to number 2.

    I could go on and do a line by line analysis, but that could drag on a bit. Rather, go out and purchase the $1.99 Modern Library/Random House edition of Salome. All of your answers can be found between its covers.

    Rory Blyth blythr@reed.edu (13:th of December 1998)

  4. The implication that Bono refers to the Holy Spirit seems quite accurate. But there is this one line that struck me in particular. She sees the man inside the child in the song make a clear reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Jesus's mother was the only one who knew about her son's destiny while Jesus was a child and she always regarded Him as a man. Lets remember that the band is from Ireland, obviously carrying a Catholic influence with them. Catholics have a higher respect and admiration for Mary than other christians. Catholics also believes that Mary has divine powers. It is possible that Bono refers to Mary and the Holy Spirit throughout the song. But the line she sees the man inside the child certainly refers to Mary.

    George Iliadis giliadis14@yahoo.com (22:nd of February 2001)

  5. My initial thought when I heard this song is that it is about Mary the mother of Christ. U2 and Bono especially are devout Catholics. Mysterious is an easy reference to the mysteries of the rosary (Sorrowful, Joyful, Glorious and, now, the Mysteries of Light.) Catholics are slightly distinct from non-Catholics in their willingness to kneel and the Rosary is often performed kneeling. Thus, the line "if you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel." The problem is that strictly speaking Catholics don't worship Mary or think she is divine. Mary was the first person to know Jesus was God as she request his help at the Wedding Feast of Cana and knew stuff from visiting her cousin, Martha, thus she would "see the man inside the child." The Holy Spirit reference is a possibility, however, since the Holy Spirit is often referred to in the feminine in Catholic tradition, although there is no theological ground for this. It might also explain turning the tide and such, although it would not be wickedly unreasonable to argue that some Catholics have deified Mary to the point of attributing to her supernatural powers. The rosary prayer says stuff like "never was it known that anyone who fled to [Mary's] protection was left unaided...]

    Johnny "eating from a can" could easily refer to John the Baptist who lived in the desert as an ascetic monk type. I recall specifically hearing the John the Baptist ate wild herbs and bugs and was a generally unkept looking person. When "Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain, Let her talk about the things you can't explain." It could easily mean that you should be baptized in water and receive the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

    Peyton Ferrier (23:rd of August 2003)

  6. Lilith is often referred to as the one who gave birth to the moon. She was the first, before Eve. Also, before she became demonized by some denominations (because she did not wish to be dominated by Adam), she was considered to be God's wife, and his equal. so... take a walk with your sister the moon could be referring to Lilith herself, or to any number of attributes of her. It could also be referring to the feminine side of God, as the word Elohim (God) is both masculine and feminine.

    "Downey-Forsythe, Shay" ForsytheS@gtc.edu (18:th of March 2005)

  7. The opening lines are probably a reference to "The Canticle of the Creatures", composed by the famous Cristian Mystic, St. Francis of Assisi.

    The second stanza of the Canticle is: "We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures, especially for Brother Sun, who is the day through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor, of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

    We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars, in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair."

    St. Francis is also likely "Johnny". His full name was Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone. Johnny is the English equivalent to Giovanni.

    The Canticle is a song of praise to God, and a delaration of the wonder of all creation, the the connection of all things, incuding ourselves though the creative power of God, and eventually our death and final communion with God.

    I beleive the connection to this poem, and the final chorus lyric, "Spirit moves in mysterious ways", makes it clear that the song is probably about God's creative Spirit present with us at all times. We can't really understand it all, but "It's alright".

    The reference to "She" might cause some confusion, but there are Biblical references refering to the mysterious wisdom of God in feminine terms. The Book of Proverbs regularly uses "she" to describe God's wisdom, for example.

    Dave davencasi@gmail.com ( 9th of June 2011)

  8. George & Peyton seem both correct in their analysis of there being references to Mary (Christ?s mother) particularly that she is the patron saint of the sea, hence She's the wave / She turns the tide / She sees the man inside the child

    However there seems to be some significance in the song to Mary Magdalene. Could Bono be referring to this Mary and Jesus? supposed desire of her? Mary is regarded as an adulteress and repentant prostitute. She's slipping / You're sliding down

    Mary was the one who stood vidual till Christ was brought down from the cross. She'll be there / When you / Hit the ground

    david david@loane.com.au (21st of July 2011)