The Edge said it's a nice derision about people from cultural culture:What am I to do/don't know if I can hold on/Don't know if I'm that strong/Don't know if I can wait that long.
Karine Maucourt kmaucourigr.fr (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
I agree with [the idea] that The Playboy Mansion represents Heaven, but I totally disagree with her suggestion that this song is Bono's view of Heaven. Rather, I think this is Bono's view of how the world sees Heaven. I believe that this song is a sarcastic song that is showing us how society views Heaven. The opening lines of the first two verses, If Coke is a Mystery...And surgery the fountain of youth...If O.J. is more than a drink...Talk shows, confession, are basically telling us that society's value system is screwed up. We have replaced God with things like plastic surgery, perfume, and talk shows. The line Another push and we'll be through the gates of that mansion is showing that we feel we need to force our way into Heaven be doing what society values rather than what it should value. The lines I never bought a Lotto ticket/I never parked in anyone's space reflect a view held by many people - I haven't done anything wrong - of course I'll get into Heaven. The banks feel like cathedrals/I guess casinos took their place - these lines are telling us that our society worships money. It has replaced God as something to worship. We'll go driving in that pool/It's who you know that gets you through/The gates of the Playboy Mansion - here Bono is saying that the world places more value on who you know than anything else, so that pool could be a reference to a carpool full of people who would be well looked-upon by society's standards. Then will there be no time for sorrow?... - It is interesting to note that Bono says these lines in the form of a question. It's as if he's questioning the world: If we follow these values, will we get to a place where there is no time for sorrow? This song surely is a sarcastic look at the world's view of Heaven. The pitch bends in the Edge's guitar line only add to a feeling of sarcasm and untruth.
Jeremy Epp achtungbabyearthling.net ( 6:th of March 1998)
I have read several critiques of this song that claim it is about heaven and/or reaching heaven. I don't think this fits with the lyrical content or the supposed F-you attitude the band had when they made this album (this according to the producer). When I listen to the lyrics, I sense that the song is about a person lamenting the fact that they are not part of the in-crowd that has access to the Playboy Mansion (a metaphor for the places that accept only the rich, famous and beautiful people). Thus the question is asked, Have I got the gift to get me into that mansion? The gift can be obtained through beauty or money (if we are lucky enough to have by chance been born beautiful, rich or both), and maintained by wealth through the fountain of youth (cosmetic surgery).
Those on the outside looking in are barraged by ads that assure them using certain products will make you one of the in-crowd. Coke is mysterious (in formula), Big Macs are huge in advertisements (never in reality), and perfumes are sold in a context of obsessive romance.
The song even delves deeper by pointing out that being part of the in-crowd can be fleeting. Both Michael Jackson and OJ are good examples of those who have fallen from having access to the in-crowd.
The narrator then tells us he has never bought a Lotto ticket (tried to get rich quick), or cheated/taken advantage of anyone parking in their space. And the banks look like cathedrals (he's not comfortable worshipping money or being a high roller) the casinos took their place. All of these are ploys people have used to get rich and be accepted as part of the in-crowd.
Then the person laments about not being able to hold on, not being strong enough to resist the temptation, to wait until the colours will flash (possibly the rapture when Christ comes back, 1Thes. 4:16 or the Day of the Lord, 2Peter 3:10-13) and the lights go on (when everything in the dark will be revealed, Luke 12:2-3). Then there will be no time for sorrow, then there will be no time for shame... because a new era will be ushered in and everything will be right.
Mel Andrews melsiteyahoo.com ( 5:th of November 2002)