All that You Can't Leave Behind


  1. I think that in Elevation Bono is writing about the multiple lives he lives. Being a very popular man, he must adapt to the different situations - he has roles. The way he acts when he's at work is surely very different from the way he acts at home. And I think that this situation is killing him. He calls this thing mole which is digging further down.

    Let's call the role he impersonificates at work (concerts, studio...) as the "Showman" and the one when he's normal (like when he is at home...) as the "Quiet". The Quiet one is telling the showman high, higher than the sun, you shoot me from a gun, I need you to elevate me here..... Then Bono introduces the concept of the "eclipse": dualism...the sun and the moon forming something - the sun and moon are like the two roles (the Quiet and the Showman) forming what he is now, and one shadowing the other; the Showman shadowing what he really is. Then, the Quiet continues to tell the showman you ELEVATE my soul, I've lost all self control, BEEN living like a mole, now going down, excavation...I AND I, IN THE SKY, YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I CAN FLY... which might indicate that the Showman gave him a lot of opportunities.

    Also, the fact that he wrote a star, lit up like a cigar, strung out like a guitar.. might suggest that as the word Star is associated with famous persons and to reinforce this word he uses the word Guitar, then: Star + Guitar = Showman

    The cigar might suggest that the Showman Bono impersonificates can be put off just like a cigar - if he wanted to, he can just go out of the music business whenever he wants.

    As I said in the beginning, this sort of role conflict is killing Bono and this can be seen in Love, lift me out of these blues, won't you tell me something true, I believe in you. It's like as if Bono is asking for someone to help him out.

    The Showman keeps bono Elevated!

    Sylvan Borg sylvanborg@yahoo.com (27:th of August 2001)

  2. I believe that Elevation is about both sex and drugs, that Bono is comparing the two things or using one to talk about the other. He has already stated that the Elevation and Desire are similar songs and we know that Desire is about sex and drugs. In the first line he says he is high, higher than the sun, which reminds us of someone doing drugs, or rather of a man having an erection. Then he says he's shot from a gun, and 'gun' could mean a syringue or his penis. The word 'gun' have been widely used as a symbol to represent these ideas in songs by other artists and by U2 (e.g., Desire, over the counter, with a shotgun, meaning a syringue). Bono says he's going down, then he's in the sky, which refers to the mood swings of someone doing drugs. It also is an obvious metaphor for the sex act, a mole digging in a hole. He describes himself as a star, lit up like a cigar, strung out like a guitar. He's very excited, tension growing inside him. Next he aks if someone / something could 'educate' his mind, which is an instance of 60's psychodelic phylosophy, when people thought that they could educate themselves and do psychotherapy by taking drugs. It could also means, together with Explain all these controls, that Bono wants to gain knowledge about female physiology and understand female sexual stimulation and orgasm. The entire song is a mixture of sex and drugs references, besides the ones I pointed. One could think that Bono is saying he's using sex as a drug to take him higher, to elevate him, or that he's using sexual metaphors (erection) to talk about being high on drugs.

    Carolina Feher, mirrorball@interair.com.br ( 1:st of September 2001)

  3. I think the song is about the masses stupidly following the stars and doing everything for them. the song starts High, higher than the sun You shoot me from a gun I need you to elevate me here... is meaning the fame (or the success) he asked for.he acepts that to be famous is part of the job he wanted.

    continues by telling about the kind of live he lives: I've got no self control Been living like a mole now Going down, excavation... a very complicate kind of life and a conflictive part of him .

    to be a star is not only to be famous but to be some kind of a guide for millions of people Maybe you can educate my mind... and the fans are always hearing every litle thing he says because they want to hear what they can not say Explain all these controls Can't sing but I've got soul The goal is elevation... . but he realizes that this is nothing but an ilusion: A star Lit up like a cigar...

    and in the part of Lift me up out of these blues Won't you tell me something true I believe in you... is talking about the way the fans espect to be a star (or at least the way he thinks he should be) and the posible efect of every little word he says

    marcelo iriarte paginazul@yahoo.com ( 8:th of August 2001)

  4. I have always taken this song to be an inner drama of egotism ("I and I in the sky") versus humility ("a mole, digging in a hole") with a religious spin. I want to suggest a theory about its inspiration. St. Augustine's 4th century "Confessions," (Book V ch III) features most of the content of Elevation in very close proximity. I DO think it is the kind of thing Bono would read; I'm an agnostic and I think it's a gorgeous and timeless classic. Here's the passage:

    "They do not know the way which is thy word, by which thou didst create all the things that are and also the men who measure them [...] And they do not know this "Way" by which they could descend from themselves to him in order to ascend through him to him. They did not know this "Way," and so they fancied themselves exalted to the stars and the shining heavens. And lo, they fell upon the earth, and "their foolish heart was darkened." They saw many true things about the creature but they do not seek with true piety for the Truth, the Architect of Creation, and hence they do not find him."

    Two major points about this: First, you can see the clearly parallel theme of imagining oneself exalted to the stars, and "going down" in order to ascend truly, and ultimately the need for God's truth ("won't you tell me something true"). Second, this paragraph made a light go on in my head in regards to the most puzzling line in Elevation, "at the corner of your lips is the orbit of your hips." I now believe Bono is saying that God speaks through his actions, "the way which is thy word." Additionally, in the paragraph just before this one Augustine talks at length about prediction of eclipses as an example of the marvelous learning of philosophers ("the men who measure" referred to above); his metaphor is that men exalt themselves by their achievements but are eclipsed by God who made them able in the first place. Is there a connection? Connection or coincidence? You decide!

    Elizabeth Durack elizdelphi@charter.net (27:th of August 2003)

  5. Just thought I'd mention that during Catholic mass the priest's ritual of raising the wine over his head for the congregation to witness is called "elevation"

    Marc Anton marc@mathurinandassociates.com (14:th of December 2004)

  6. Bono is really referring to himself as the star in "Elevation", and he cleverly tells us this by using "I and I in the sky" as a play on words. He is well educated in alliteration and AIN (Epsilon Tau , pronounced "aye-in") is Arabic for Eye of the Bull. This particular star is the eye in the Constellation Taurus. Bono was born on May 10, 1960, a Taurus astrologically. Therefore saying "AIN and I" or "I and I" Bono is telling us he is the star in the sky.

    "Steven P. Sukel, Esq." sps@njtax.com ( 3:th of January 2005)