Wouldn't it have been so much better if U2, performing at Lincoln's memorial yesterday, had played a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" instead of "City of Blinding Lights."
City of Blinding Lights was written by Bono as a tribute to New York City, and how naive he and the rest of the band felt when they arrived there early in their careers. Criticized as "Where the Streets Have No Name" Redux, the song really does sound a lot like their previous work. It's a great song, don't get me wrong, but there just isn't any subtle or obvious symbolism in it.
On the other hand, Marley wrote "Redemption Song" in 1979, after being diagnosed with the cancer that would later claim his life. Rita Marley reports that at the time of the song's writing, Bob Marley was already in a lot of pain. The song stood as a cry out from Marley's soul about his faith, his mortality, and his belief in a better life.
Now, on the day before Martin Luther King, Jr Day, and two days before the first black president is sworn into office, it seems to me that rather than playing a song about New York, perhaps U2 (who have covered Redemption Song before) should instead have played a song by Marley, who wrote about overcoming difficulty, about faith, and send a message that there are things in this world deeper than the skin and those things are universal, no matter your race.
Further, a song that reminds one of his own mortality would be a fitting song to sing to Obama, who surely is beginning to feel the soft glow of absolute power, and could use a healthy dose of humility.
And also, it is a soft, beautiful song that makes the listener reflect on their life, on the amazing life of Marley, and on the awesome power of God's redeeming grace.
You can listen, free, to Redemption Song here, by typing it into the search frame.
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