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Old 02-23-2009, 11:36 AM   #1
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Unknown Caller

I put this on songmeaning dot net. What do you think?


My interpretations of the song:

This is a beautiful worship song portraying an intimate experience with God.

The song is nonlinear. It is looking back at an event with narration spliced through the event. It's easier to understand by regrouping the lyrics. Everything Bono sings solo is the main character of the song narrating or recalling his state previous to the event. The Bono/Edge harmony is the character of God. God’s words are nonlinear also. The character is retelling them in a different order.

The soft opening, bird sounds, and Sunshine, Sunshine is the present time. The character wakes with new meaning seeing the Light (Light of Christ, John 8:12) in a new way.

Bono solo/recalling the character's situation.

I was lost (these three words give all the meaning. He was lost. Isaiah 53:6) between the midnight and the dawning
In a place of no consequence or company
3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock face (the call from God comes at 3:33 Jeremiah 33:3)
Speed dialing with no signal at all

I was right there at the top of the bottom (he was stuck in the middle of nowhere)
On the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be (he didn’t exactly realize he was lost or stuck, he thought he was where he wanted to be)
I had driven to the scene of the accident
And I sat there waiting for me (his life was out of control and he was about to crash)

Words of God:

(first grouped by the technical metaphor, then the rest)


Force quit (This Macintosh metaphor is a poetic masterpiece. Force quit in Mac language is the method to quit a program that is out of control and can’t be stopped the normal way. It needs a different kind of intervention. God is doing a force quit on this guy’s life.) and move to trash (Mac language for delete. God is deleting the man’s life. Isaiah 1:18)
Restart and re-boot yourself (John 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17)
Password, you enter here, right now
You know your name so punch it in

Go, shout it out, rise up
Escape yourself, and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak, Shush now (You’ve been so busy doing your own things to hear me before. Stop and listen.)
You're free to go
Shout for joy if you get the chance (Psalm 40:3. This is a U2 theme. They have been shouting the joy of God and redemption throughout their time in the spotlight. Gloria, 40, October, WTSHNN Elevation tour version, Yahweh.)
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now
Don't move or say a thing (Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.)

The last part of the song is the best. My interpretation is that the message we hear in the lyrics of the song is “be quiet so I can teach you” and the generic message “leave your old life and start a new life in me”, but there is much more after the lyrics end. After God speaks the final words of “Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak, Shush now, don't move or say a thing”, the song goes right into non-lyrical music as if it is a continuation of the lyrics. I believe U2 is using music as a way to imply spiritual communication (Ephesians 5:19, see U2’s interpretation of the Holy Ghost in The First Time “She got soul, soul, soul, sweet soul. And she teach me how to sing”).

The music starts out with beautiful organ/cathedral style music and then moves into an amazing Edge guitar solo, as if the meaning and feeling God is speaking is too beautiful to put into words and instead is portrayed by music over the final minute and half of the song.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:05 PM   #2
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After reading UAME's explanation of the "My Savior's Love" I added this.
addendum

I just discovered the final 1:30 of the song including Edge's guitar solo is taken from the hymn "My Savior's Love". This adds even more meaning to the song. This implies an alternate interpretation for the final 1:30. This could be cutting back to the present retelling of the account and is the character's answer and expression of God's admonition: "Shout for joy if you get the chance."


The words of that hymn:

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

Refrain
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

For me it was in the garden
He prayed: “Not My will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

In pity angels beheld Him,
And came from the world of light
To comfort Him in the sorrows
He bore for my soul that night.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
'Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:32 PM   #3
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Great analysis, ltcf! As I answered in my thread, I don't have any concrete evidence of the hymn, but I KNOW that's what I'm hearing.

If I'm being honest with myself, I must admit that I don't really prefer the lyrical or singing style used in the chorus of this song. However, the music and the message have quickly made this one of my favorites on the album, and it's moving up my all-time U2 list, too. I love it more with every listen.
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:49 PM   #4
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Awesome.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:08 AM   #5
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My wife had an interesting idea on a possible interpretation. She hasn't been exposed to any other conversations about possible meanings, just listening to the album for the past few days.

She proposed that the "3:33" might also be in reference to Christ's crucifixion. It seems that some scholars believe that Jesus probably died on the cross late in the afternoon, around 3:00. My wife thought the "Force quit / Move to trash" could be God deleting the sin of the world.

I don't know how well the metaphor fits the whole song, but I thought it was a pretty cool take.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UAME View Post
My wife had an interesting idea on a possible interpretation. She hasn't been exposed to any other conversations about possible meanings, just listening to the album for the past few days.

She proposed that the "3:33" might also be in reference to Christ's crucifixion. It seems that some scholars believe that Jesus probably died on the cross late in the afternoon, around 3:00. My wife thought the "Force quit / Move to trash" could be God deleting the sin of the world.

I don't know how well the metaphor fits the whole song, but I thought it was a pretty cool take.
I like that. I think the force quit/move to trash is a beautiful metaphor for the atonement, whether looked at in aggregate as your wife suggests or in an individual's life.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:50 AM   #7
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Superb .... simple one of the best songs on the album.
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcf View Post
Force quit (This Macintosh metaphor is a poetic masterpiece. Force quit in Mac language is the method to quit a program that is out of control and can’t be stopped the normal way. It needs a different kind of intervention. God is doing a force quit on this guy’s life.) and move to trash (Mac language for delete. God is deleting the man’s life. Isaiah 1:18)
Restart and re-boot yourself (John 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17)
Thanks for this - I'm not familiar with Mac talk (being a PC person). Also I found your interpretation very interesting and reasonable.
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:22 AM   #9
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I don't think it is even possible to explain what this song makes me feel like! To me personally, it is a sign of acknowledgement that what I have had to do in my life these past few years has been the right thing.

That may sound corny, but I have always been a person who needs a "sign", and I sure was begging for one these past few weeks. I almost couldn't breathe after hearing this for the first time.

Thank you, Bono...thank you God!
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:23 AM   #10
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The only problem with this song is that U2 is using mac lingo.

I love these interpretations. I didn't think there was a song on the album that was more spiritual that Magnificent.
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Old 02-27-2009, 06:12 AM   #11
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I rather like the Mac lingo.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boosterjuice View Post
The only problem with this song is that U2 is using mac lingo.

I love these interpretations. I didn't think there was a song on the album that was more spiritual that Magnificent.

He's trying to make a point that God can talk to us through anything or anyone including technology. Technology is not the enemy of soul.

Dana
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Old 03-06-2009, 08:40 PM   #13
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That's interesting that you brought up the "3:33" reference. It just hit me that there is a connection with this and the cover of ATYCLB. There's a sign in the background that says "J 33-3," which Bono has said is a reference to Jeremiah 33:3, that says, "Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and marvelous things that you know not"; Bono calls this "God's phone number." So, we have these numbers used again, this time in a song called "Unknown Caller"! Who's the Caller? It's obviously God!

Wow!
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:19 PM   #14
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I have the theory that this man in the song is the same one in MOS, a drug addict who has lost his wife and everything that was dear to him because of the drug, he would like to leave it, but he can't, then he goes to the ATM to get money to buy more drug and he realises the face looking at him is his own face he doesn't recognise any more, at the moment he has the vision of what he has done with his life and he gets desperate, the song finishes, then UC starts and the first words are "sunshine, sunshine" in indication that, contrary to what anyone could have thought, he's saved and seeing the light again, then there's a flash back to his moment of desperation. My interpretation of the rest of the song is more or less what the first poster has written, probably much better expressed than if I had written it, so I'm not going to repeat it.
For me these two songs together work as a parable, teaching us we mustn't desperate, even if we've made the worst mistakes, God and his Grace will always be there for us if we want to listen.
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:40 AM   #15
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also the musical arrengments of the song are awesome
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