Why "The Wanderer" on Zooropa? - U2 Feedback

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Old 10-19-2001, 12:27 PM   #1
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Why "The Wanderer" on Zooropa?

I was wondering what evreryone thought of this songs purpose on the Album, and what its meaning is to you.

For me this song seems to pull you back down to earth on the album. Whenever I listen to Zooropa in its entirety, I feel like I just went on a trip in a space shuttle or something. Zooropa is the the begining of the journey and by the time you get to The First Time, you are ready to come home. But the Wanderer follows in almost every closing song to a U2 album: It has a biblical reference, It brings a sense of twisted hope,its reflective, and it feels different on any other song on the album.

But these lyrics are very unlike Bono. The Wanderer almost has this story like feeling to it. Its rich in imagery rather than symbolism, and using Johnny Cash to sing it allows him to tell the story with more fluidity. If Bono sang it, i think the words would get lost, and we would focus too much on his voice. Plus he would probably try to do too much with his vocal range.
Rather, with Cash we get a direct voice, and it explodes with power and prestige. Its almost like God is telling the story.

But what is this story really about? I'm not really sure. Is it about a man doing God's work? Is it about searching for something? For love, peace, happiness, answers to unruling questions? And what is its relevance to the album? Why put a song like that on an "alternative" like sounding soundtrack?

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Old 10-21-2001, 04:28 PM   #2
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Good questions, tackleberry! I agree with what you said about Zooropa being a journey. With Achtung Baby there was always the pull of home, but on Zooropa you're just out in the world soaking it all in- too much is not enough. As the album goes on the craziness kind of subsides and, like you said, by The First Time it's time to return to the real world.

I kind of see The Wanderer as a summary of what's been happening through Zooropa. The speaker talks about how I went out there / In search of experience / To taste and to touch / And to feel as much / As a man can / Before he repents, but I left with nothing / But the thought you'd be there too / Looking for you. I see "you" here as God. Basically, the speaker went out to soak in the world, but he was also looking for Jesus and God somewhere out there. It goes back to that "looking for Jesus under the glitter and trash" idea. The speaker went all over the world, no doubt doing all sorts of crazy and sinful things, but hoped that he'd be able to find God if he peeled the superficial things away.

There's also a tie-in to Achtung Baby with the lines Yeah I went out for the papers / Told her I'd be back by noon. AB was all about the pull of the home and wife versus the temptation of the outside world. So the speaker told his wife he'd be back by noon, but he got lost in the world and basically forgot about her. Now there's no longer a pull of home- he has succumbed to the outside world and his wanderlust.

In the Flanagan book it mentions how Bono really wanted the Johnny Cash version to be on the album, and Flanagan hypothesized it was because the lyrics hit a bit too close to home and Bono didn't want people to view him as the character as the Wanderer. The line I passed by a thousand signs / Looking for my own name sounds pretty egotistical, and I don't think Bono wanted people thinking of him as a conceited rock star who goes out searching for God With a bible and a gun. Plus, the lines The word of God lay heavy on my heart / I was sure I was the one would be good ammunition for critics who claim that Bono thinks he's Jesus and wants to save the world. The band had just put a lot of effort into revamping their image, and I don't think they wanted to go back to how they were viewed during the JT and R&H eras.
So even though The Wanderer deals with a serious subject, I think U2 managed to get it to fit in with Zooropa's more experimental/alternative style by having sort of funky music and Johnny Cash's singing.

Well, that was my 2 cents. Hopefully this will spark a bigger discussion!






[This message has been edited by Giant Lemon (edited 10-21-2001).]
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Old 10-22-2001, 11:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by tackleberry:
Rather, with Cash we get a direct voice, and it explodes with power and prestige. Its almost like God is telling the story.
I agree
I never understood why people over here dislike that song so much

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Old 10-22-2001, 03:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Giant Lemon:

There's also a tie-in to Achtung Baby with the lines Yeah I went out for the papers / Told her I'd be back by noon. AB was all about the pull of the home and wife versus the temptation of the outside world. So the speaker told his wife he'd be back by noon, but he got lost in the world and basically forgot about her. Now there's no longer a pull of home- he has succumbed to the outside world and his wanderlust.


I agree with you there on the tie to achtung baby. But I also think its a bit of foreshadowing as well of their next two albums. Think about "Gone" and how Bono is leaving for a much higher purpose and even leaving everything with a "goodbye..and no emotional goodnight, I'll be up with the sun, I'm not coming down." And of course think of "Walk On" & "Elevation" and how that can also relate to "The Wanderer's" character of searching for a higher purpose, a higher love.






[This message has been edited by Giant Lemon (edited 10-21-2001).]


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Old 10-22-2001, 03:49 PM   #5
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Sorry Giant Lemon that second paragraph is my writing. I guess I had problems with the BOLD key. oops
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Old 10-22-2001, 06:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by tackleberry:
I agree with you there on the tie to achtung baby. But I also think its a bit of foreshadowing as well of their next two albums. Think about "Gone" and how Bono is leaving for a much higher purpose and even leaving everything with a "goodbye..and no emotional goodnight, I'll be up with the sun, I'm not coming down." And of course think of "Walk On" & "Elevation" and how that can also relate to "The Wanderer's" character of searching for a higher purpose, a higher love.
That's pretty interesting, tackleberry! I like the idea that now he's leaving for a higher purpose- leaving all the superficial things behind. And I never really thought of a connection between Gone and Elevation before, but I see that "I'll be up with the sun, I'm not coming down" is elevation. He's moving to a higher ground. Good insight!

Quote:
Originally posted by adam's_mistress:
The Wanderer, deespite it being laden with spiritual imagery, about sums up both records imo. The Wanderer has to bury his emotionally violent past and leave everything behind but the thought of "you" in order to find his path: the 'spititual' path must be cleared so that a person can simply 'get on' with his life.
What adam's_mistress said here fits in with that concept too. You have to leave it behind to find a higher purpose in God. Wow- how all these albums can be connected is kind of freaky! U2 seems more and more ingenious as the days go on...




[This message has been edited by Giant Lemon (edited 10-22-2001).]
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Old 10-22-2001, 09:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Giant Lemon:
What adam's_mistress said here fits in with that concept too. You have to leave it behind to find a higher purpose in God. Wow- how all these albums can be connected is kind of freaky! U2 seems more and more ingenious as the days go on...


[This message has been edited by Giant Lemon (edited 10-22-2001).]
I've always felt, since (and I'll give a good starting point here) Achtung Baby, U2 records were more concept albums, whole records that envelop a stream of consciousness as the songs flow together telling a story. It's kind of hard to explain, these concept albums. Achtung Baby to me, is the perfect concept album. It starts off with an enthusiastic "I'm ready!" and the other songs take the listener down a path of emotional turmoil of a man whose life as he knew it was slipping away. Love is Blindness is the perfect record closer to this concept record because really, it pretty much is the sum of what Achtung Baby is getting at. The root of what it's about. Love of another person, love of life, love lost, and just about pulling your hair out because life has taken such a drastic turn. Zooropa for the most part offers some clarity (I've been using that word a lot lately ) in the sense that the protagonist takes up where Achtung dumped him off - and he pushes through the whole record to come to the revelation that he must seek out and regain his faith in other people and God in order to achieve higher ground both spiritually and mentally and even physically.

It is strange (only because I was thinking the same thing) you mention how all the U2 records are "connected" thus forming a chain of life events that would bring our protagonist to his musical and spiritual conclusion. We all know U2 doesn't make records that are a mishmash of fluffy love songs and heart break ballads - there is something much deeper emotionally behind the records and for the most part, even the "iffy" U2 fans can respect the band for that. As I've gone through the stages of my life I've found that certain U2 records appeal to me more than others. Although I've been a fan since the early 80's, my U2 obsessiveness really didn't boil to a head and take on a deeper meaning until Joshua Tree (or better yet) Achtung Baby came out. Perhaps I feel that Achtung Baby and Zooropa, Pop and ATYCLB speak to me, represent the stages of life that I'm going though. Don't get me wrong, I feel that there's deep meaning in previous U2 works (in my late teens and early 20's I was drawn to Boy because I 'knew' firsthand what the songs were trying to convey... and I think we all haven't really found everything we're looking for - yet anyways ) but I feel that Achtung and the latter are much more personal records because the pain is there, the love is there, the questioning our life on this planet is there. Even the very approach to song writing was different than in previous works. It really is amazing how the U2 records of the 90's and early part of this century bind together as one giant concept album. It makes me wonder if it was intentional or by accident. Either way, it's brilliant. There are a lot of musicians and bands that have created concept records (Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, NIN to name a couple,) but very few have created a stream of records that outline the stages of one's life.

There I go again, not making too much sense. Hopefully someone who happens upon my post can understand what the hell I'm trying to say.

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Old 10-23-2001, 02:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Salome:
Quote:
Originally posted by tackleberry:
Rather, with Cash we get a direct voice, and it explodes with power and prestige. Its almost like God is telling the story.
I agree
I never understood why people over here dislike that song so much

You can add me to the short list of people who love The Wanderer. It remains one of my favorite U2 songs ever.

I oftentimes felt that The Wanderer was a follow-up of sorts to The First Time. "He gave me the keys to his kingdom coming, gave me a cup of gold. He said I have many mansions, and there are many rooms to see. But I left by the backdoor, and I threw away the key..." For all intents and purposes, the Wanderer is very much a follow-up to the spiritual journey of The First Time - in both songs, the hero has made his choice to leave the rut comforts in seek of something worldly, something much grander than the original picture depicts. I'm probably not making any sense here...

Anyway - the Wanderer is a perfect end to a cenceptual album like Zooropa. To me, I always felt that Zooropa was like the second installment in the concept album series after Achtung Baby. After the emotional and tumltous journey of Achtung Baby where the protagonist seems sort of lost emotionally and spiritually (I would break bread and wine if there was a church I could believe in) Zooropa is about (IMO) a person regaining his spiritual balance and finding solace in his search for clarity. Actually, I think that pretty much sums up the whole of Zooropa - whereas Achtung Baby appears more about wallowing in despair and trying to deal with all that life has thrown him, Zooropa adds some closure by indicating that the protagonist is ready to move on. The Wanderer, deespite it being laden with spiritual imagery, about sums up both records imo. The Wanderer has to bury his emotionally violent past and leave everything behind but the thought of "you" in order to find his path: the 'spititual' path must be cleared so that a person can simply 'get on' with his life.

O.K., if that made any sense at all I'd be the first to be amazed at my whack analytical skills. If it doesn't... maybe I just need a few more cups of coffee.


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Old 05-02-2018, 12:52 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by adam's_mistress View Post
You can add me to the short list of people who love The Wanderer. It remains one of my favorite U2 songs ever.

I oftentimes felt that The Wanderer was a follow-up of sorts to The First Time. "He gave me the keys to his kingdom coming, gave me a cup of gold. He said I have many mansions, and there are many rooms to see. But I left by the backdoor, and I threw away the key..." For all intents and purposes, the Wanderer is very much a follow-up to the spiritual journey of The First Time - in both songs, the hero has made his choice to leave the rut comforts in seek of something worldly, something much grander than the original picture depicts. I'm probably not making any sense here...

Anyway - the Wanderer is a perfect end to a cenceptual album like Zooropa. To me, I always felt that Zooropa was like the second installment in the concept album series after Achtung Baby. After the emotional and tumltous journey of Achtung Baby where the protagonist seems sort of lost emotionally and spiritually (I would break bread and wine if there was a church I could believe in) Zooropa is about (IMO) a person regaining his spiritual balance and finding solace in his search for clarity. Actually, I think that pretty much sums up the whole of Zooropa - whereas Achtung Baby appears more about wallowing in despair and trying to deal with all that life has thrown him, Zooropa adds some closure by indicating that the protagonist is ready to move on. The Wanderer, deespite it being laden with spiritual imagery, about sums up both records imo. The Wanderer has to bury his emotionally violent past and leave everything behind but the thought of "you" in order to find his path: the 'spititual' path must be cleared so that a person can simply 'get on' with his life.

O.K., if that made any sense at all I'd be the first to be amazed at my whack analytical skills. If it doesn't... maybe I just need a few more cups of coffee.
Not to bump a really old comment, but piggybacking off of this, Pop is moreso like the protagonist finding his way through the newfound path and realizing that it's made out to be which leads to the discovery of his lost love and the problems with the world he's in, and trying to rekindle his love and personal spark again, but coming to an existential doubt and crisis that reaches its bitter end at Wake Up Dead Man. Then on ATYCLB, you get Beautiful Day and Stuck in a Moment starting the album, which both can be seen as a true spiritual awakening.
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