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Old 08-24-2002, 09:21 PM   #1
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U2 and Rastafarianism?

Hey guys! I had a question about one of the lyrics in the song "Elevation" on ATYCLB.

It's the part where Bono sings "I and I in the sky, you make me feel like I could fly, so high, elevation!"

When I first heard the song and didn't consult the lyrics, I assumed that he was singing "Higher than the sky". Later, after closer examination of the CDs printed lyrics, I saw that he was actually singing "I and I". I dismissed it as a fun play on words, although I still felt that Elevation was a great spiritual AND soulful song (as many U2 songs are).

Well, a couple of days ago, I decided to do a little research on Bob Marley and his spiritual beliefs. I've really gotten into listening to the Bob Marley Legend compilation recently. A friend gave it to me for my birthday and I've enjoyed it immensely! I love the way Marley weaves spirituality into many of the songs he sings. Being a Christian, I felt (and still feel) that many of his lyrics rang true to me, even though I wasn't sure of his religious affiliation. This got me interested in looking on the internet to see what he believed and I found that he was a Rastafarian.

I admit I am still very ignorant of the subject, but I was fascinated by the similarities it had to Christianity. For instance they believe that Jesus Christ was the "fullness of God" and that he brings redemption to his people, etc. etc. BUT they also believed that Babylon is the white oppresive government that enslaved the African people and that one day a king will come who will return his people to Zion (Ethiopia). They felt that this prophecy was fulfilled or partially fulfilled when Ras Tafari was coronated King of Ethiopia in 1930, thereby being referred to as "Emperor Haile Selassie I, conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of the Kings of Ethopia". This king became a prophetic and messianic figure for the religion. They also believe that marijuana is a spiritual herb and that when you smoke it God will reveal himself to you and you'll also have revelation of Ras Tafari. Apparently, there are no official leaders of this movement and everyone just kind of takes care of themselves and seeks to love God and people (I guess).

I know I'm probably butchering what true Rastafarianism is, so if there are any Rastafarians out there, please feel free to correct me! I'm just basing my facts on a couple of articles i've read.

Back to U2: One of the terms in Rastafari is "I and I". I and I is suppose to symbolize "oneness". It refers to God being in all people and all of "the congregation" being in communal unity with God. When I read this, I immediately thought of the lyrics to "Elevation".

What genius!! Once again, years later, I feel like I get another piece of a U2 lyrical puzzle. Just when you think that a lyric is a "throw away", you find out that it packs more punch than you knew about.

So..... am reaching here? Is this a true connection or is it my imagination? Was the lyric intentional or am I not seeing something else? Any thoughts?

If there is a connection, what do you think the deeper meaning could be? what are they trying to say? I would love to hear feedback on it. I believe that some of the band are Christians (from lyrics and interviews they've made) and not Rastafarian, but what point do you think they were trying to make?

Thanks for listening.

Sorry this post is lengthier than I wanted it to be.
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Old 08-24-2002, 09:53 PM   #2
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I don't know enough about Rastafarianism to comment, only that it rolls off my tongue in a delicious way. I will say that Bono has always expressed a deep love and appreciation for Bob Marley and his music, so you could be on to something, or, in the case of many of Bono's lyrics, not. Anyways, welcome to the forum UltravioletTX...hope to see more of you around.

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Old 08-24-2002, 10:18 PM   #3
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Cool..that is how I've always seen Elevation as well..also, god is also known as the great "I am"...therefore, I and I in the sky could make sense in that way as well..i loved that song live....also, I could be wrong..but does "Yahweh" translate into "I am"?
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Old 08-25-2002, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by popsadie
Cool..that is how I've always seen Elevation as well..also, god is also known as the great "I am"...therefore, I and I in the sky could make sense in that way as well..i loved that song live....also, I could be wrong..but does "Yahweh" translate into "I am"?
First, what a fabulous insight! Given that both Bono and Edge are Bob Marley fans and spiritually minded, I would not be at all surprised if they had learned enough about his beliefs to pick up that term along the way.

I had a gut feeling that it meant something about connecting with God the great I Am, but to hear this specific reference is cool.

As for the translation of Yahweh - it's notoriously hard to translate. The best known is "I am that I am." It can also just be "I am." "I will be what I will be." "I let [everything] be." But it's definitely something about being.
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Old 08-25-2002, 12:44 PM   #5
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How strange... I hadn't seen this thread till now...yet last night I was listening to the very same "Legend" cd and I noticed the very same lyrics... hmmm
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Old 09-06-2002, 02:03 PM   #6
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Sorry to enter this very interesting thread a little late...

I am a Rastafarian. I don´t wear dreads, but many of you know that´s not what it is mainly about. Oh, there is some reason for dreads: to let your hair grow freely and wildly, like we suppose God has made us.

More imprtant than dreads, though, is that you allow Rastafarianism to take a place in your heart. I am white, but that doesn´t mean I can´t be a Rastafarian. Everybody can be a Rasta. We also believe in other concepts, sometimes. For example, I am born roman catholic, and though I know of the many mistakes in the past, I think I will stay roman catholic, because it is my family´s religion. It is where I come from, and where you come from is just as important as where you go to.

While I am typing, I realize that I often use "I", and shouldn´t use it that often, because this is not about me. For Rastafari, the term "I" and the term "I´n´I" are two different things. "I", this is me, like I am sitting here at this desk, my normal life. "I´n´I" is a... different stage of what can be found inside of us. It´s the stage of spirituality, of being united, of feeling that God is love, the feeling that everything is one. It is always happening now, at the moment. "I´n´I" is the vision, it is the goal, it is what men are longing for. It is like a higher being inside of you. It is ONE LOVE.

I think you get an idea... it´s difficult to describe,...

We believe in the Bible. One reason why the bible is so important to the original movement of Rasta, is because it helped. You know, Kingston in Jamaica is a city full of slums. Many Rastas there, much criminality, much smoking. There was a time that some Rastas went up, out of town, into the hills. These are the Rastas from the hills. They don´t smoke. Even though smoking is accepted as a positive drug, it is not part of a Rasta´s real needs. Some of us have been strong enough to say no because they realized it was influencing their concrete plans negatively, you know, the usual effects of long term smokers. So, Rastafarianism is not about smoking.

Rastafarians often have a strong link to Christianity, many of us are Christians, because the Bible was the only book we could get in the slums, circulating widely. Our interpretation of the bible is, therefore, a different one from some interpretation of, say, middle age Europe, or of the views of the Vatican. It is more hands-on. It is about love in everyday´s life. It is about positivity. You might have realized that most of us are very positive persons... sometimes we stumble and fall, too, it is not easy,... but we think positivity has to be spread. We love Marley, just as we love Garvey. Do an internet search, if you are interested in the details of Marcus Garveys story.

It is also about politics. We don´t believe religion and politics must be segregated. Sometimes, it is better, but we prefer an approach that unites things. We think it is one of the easiest things to have a certain belief, but not to live it. We believe many Christians are not living up to what Jesus said. We believe that a life like Jesus wanted can be lived, also in todays world. We think that people who neglect this are not trusting their own inner power. Most of us are vegetarians (I am not, I continue to eat and to like meat... so I am far from being a brave Rasta).

We fight slavery in all of its forms. Many of Rastas forefathers were slaves. We believe that the worlds resources and wealth have to be shared. We believe that slavery caused extreme misery, that European countries were cutting any chance to develop an own economical system in Africa by Africans. We are happy that Jamaica is a beautiful country, but we are searching for our fathers land, in Africa, the continent where we came from.

We believe that NOW is the time to act, because we are living NOW: we believe there have to be paid high reparations, not only because it is just for the history our forefathers suffered, but because this incredible pain has to stop. Our heart is bleeding when we see so many MILLIONS and MILLIONS of children dying of hunger and thurst, of AIDS, of other diseases, of useless wars.

Rastafari is about love. About everyday love in everyday life. Yes, it is true that U 2 like Bob Marley. He wrote very concrete songs, and it is a miracle he was able to get famous and to spread the belief of the little nation of Jamaica all over the world.

At the Elevation concerts which I visited, I kept looking Bono right into his eyes. He has good, deep, impressive eyes. He is a believer, like us. Some attempts may fail, but he never gives up. Even though there is a lot of crap associated with the role of a rock star, he keeps on singing for Africa In The Name Of Love.

To conclude this little piece, here a part of Marley´s Redemption Song that many of you may already know.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Some say its just a part of it
We´ve got to fulfil the book
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Old 09-06-2002, 02:40 PM   #7
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What great insight! I've always thought of Elevation as a spiritual song, even if there are other interpretations of it as sexual or about Bono's sentiments on stardom. And when Bono sings "Love, lift up out of these blues...", I would think that he is referring to God, as he usually does when he says LOVE.

I only found out about Rastafarianism through Sarah McLachlan's song "Building A Mystery" where she sings, "stretch your Rasta wear".
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Old 09-06-2002, 02:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for the dead cool post
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Old 09-07-2002, 11:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by dizzy
What great insight! I've always thought of Elevation as a spiritual song, even if there are other interpretations of it as sexual or about Bono's sentiments on stardom. And when Bono sings "Love, lift up out of these blues...", I would think that he is referring to God, as he usually does when he says LOVE.

I only found out about Rastafarianism through Sarah McLachlan's song "Building A Mystery" where she sings, "stretch your Rasta wear".
Just a little interjection about the "Love, lift me up out of these blues" line. It sounds a lot like another U2 line:

ELEVATION:
Love, lift me up out of these blues
Won't you tell me something true
I believe in you

"40"
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay


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