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Rock n' Roll Doggie FOB
Jun 22, 2001
Live from Boston
I loved reading the analysis on Exit and thought you all might enjoy this too, about Mofo... if anything it's a good distraction until tonight's show.

Bono has said this song could sum up his entire life. Myself and Velvetdress try to figure out why...

Overall: the places being a musician/rock star is trying to fill, the forces that drive him to be a musician/rock star, and the resultant chaos of the life he has almost accidentally created. Trying to fill the sometimes wavering faith (God-shaped hole), the void his mother left, the space vacated by his lost innocence (the face I had before the world was made), trying to reconcile the duality of being a child (pampered star) and an adult (father of my two little girls). I was thinking the other day about how in MOFO he says "I'm still a child", and in Kite he says "I'm a man, I'm not a child." I think he is both, as we all are, and that he knows that. But in Kite, 4 years later, he is less confused by the contradiction in that. His father being sick and passing may have an influence on this- now he literally is "the man" of the family, the top of the line.

Is he going to fill up that God shaped hole w/ rock and roll? or is the mother sucking rock and roll that causes him to NEED to find this stuff out? By knowing as much as we know about Bono, we can assume that the rock & roll is his attempt to fill the holes in his life. But his celebrity/artisanship has
begun to cannibalize him, as well. In attempting to fill the holes, is he actually making them bigger? Is the void alread there or self created? Eat the monster before the monster eats you. "And you become a monster so the monster will not break you". "Every artist is a cannibal". The synthesis of
many of his lines, many of his beliefs and fears in this song.

Looking for to save my save my soul / Looking in the places where no flowers grow / Looking for to fill that God shaped hole /
Mother...mother sucking rock and roll (Mother...)

The first stanza I think he is explaining his confusion- the uncertainty he is feeling. Explaining what he's doing- looking to save my soul. But how? By God? By rock and roll? By himself? Is he going to fill up that God shaped hole w/ rock and roll? or is the mother sucking rock and roll that causes him to NEED to find this stuff out?

Holy dunc, spacejunk coming in for the splash / (Been around the back...been around the front)

I'm not too sure about this holy dunc stuff (typing that makes me think of a baptism) I never got holy dunc because of the "dunc" spelling. Holy dunk would make a great deal of sense, especially with the following line about baby Jesus. "space junk coming in for the crash" - suddenly I can see all this stuff from outer space zooming in towards the earth in a terrible collision, illustrating not only the character's confusion, but the imminent danger of his creation crashing back down on him. He's written more about this "outer space" motif in BD: those images are supposedly what's seen from a spaceship. Plus "man takes a rocketship up tothe sky sits on a star burning in the night"...!! Of course he's been around the back first, sneaking in. also could be sexual innuendos there! Yes, another "leave a bad taste in your mouth" -type unintentional innuendo for obsessed fans with dirty minds!

White dopes on punk staring into the flash / Looking for the baby Jesus under the trash

Under the trash literally? or figuratively? under the trash of these doped out punks making music? You know how Bono has said that Jesus didn't waste his time on the pious, he was always with the people who needed him the most, and that if he were around today he would be with the AIDS victims on the streets of San Fran, with prostitutes and drug addicts. I think that is where this "dopes on punk stare into the flash, looking for baby
Jesus under the trash" comes from, directly. They're fucked up, they're on the edge, and even they are looking to fill their God-shaped hole, and from many Bono observations, "under the trash" is probably the most likely place to find the baby Jesus. "It is no coincidence that he was born in the shit and straw" or something like that. His quotes over the years are directly reflected in this stanza. If you take white dopes on punk and flip it around: white punks on dope. Thats sorta obvious and relates to the sugar dropping later on in the song.
(on Musical Journey there was a great insight into this line- siting U2 as boys as being the white punks)

Good connection with Jesus in other songs, such as "they put Jesus in show business, now it's hard to get in the door".This album definitely says "Jesus" more than any other (you've got Dead Man as well. Interesting that it's Jesus mostly, and not God.....This is the new testament U2, unafraid of God ("many will see and fear"), but turning to Jesus in both desperation and recrimination. Dead Man is a very BALLSY song to me; imagine what it takes for a committed believer to address Jesus in that tone!)

October, and all its God-related stuff is just that - GOD-related. Not Jesus. JT seems more concerned with God than Jesus, to me (e.g. it's more New Testament than Old Testament). On AB we get our first real JESUS song, UTEOTW, and on Zooropa we get The Wanderer, which is Jesus-related. The implications of addressing Jesus instead of God are quite interesting, actually. Now the "blame", when it's there, switches to Jesus, who lost his life to save others. A questionable enemy, for sure. why not still God? I'm sure B is obsessed w/ Jesus too in the sense that Jesus was HUMAN, so he experienced ALL the human emotions, and we see this illustarted in the Bible. I still your son / You know I've waited for so long to hear / you say so
The "mother" stanza is always hard to hear b/c it reminds me of Bono's motherless life. "Am i still your son?" even though I'm all grown up.. waited to hear you say so" I always felt it was "say so" that you are still my mother. That you are not really GONE. But.... does he want to be told no? This stanza is just BRAVE, like "man not a child". He puts it all on the line, is completely naked before the fans and critics. To couple this song with "I Will Follow" on Popmart was just stunning to me -- and particularly ironic since 90% of the audience would have no idea what he was doing regarding his mother and would just be banging their heads during MOFO and hopping around during Follow. He didn't need to wear sunglasses during those two songs because although he had unveiled himself with the music, no one could SEE what he was doing. left and made me someone / Now I'm still a child, no one tells me no

Still definiant, violent (mentally, as he says) and rebelling. No one tells him no. But.... does he want to be told no? I think he does! Look at his choice of wife, someone who takes care of him and makes sure he takes his pills. When Ali says to him "Shut your trap before I kick the lifts out of your shoes," he loves it. He doesn't want to be entirely responsible for himself in the way that perhaps you or I do. I think he wants to be told no, too. I think that is a complaint, that line. I think it's a bit of a whine or a cry for help! Absolutely right, and the right way to characterize it, that it is a complaint. The "whine", too, really reflects his desire to be a child, is still a child, even the way he drags out the tells me noooooooo", is very whiney. Just also thought
of this: "I was like a two year old, just wanting more"......

Another spin on this is Ali. She, too, is a mother. This adds some ambiguity and another shade of meaning. Also in I Will Follow, the lover/mother switch: "lover takes him by the hand, he starts to think, he starts to cry" where it used to be mother and now is lover. Was there an inbetween stage? Was he ever NOT held by the hand? In reality, Ali stepped right in so shortly after his mother's death. Which in itself gives a big insight as to one of the many roles she has played in his life, and why he chose her. I'm not saying it's all of it, but definitely a part. You can't underestimate the impact of losing your mother as a teenage boy.

Looking for a sound that's going to / drown out the world

This i love! the words are beautiful. the meaning v. strong- looking for one sound to drown out the rest. sound as in music, or maybe the sound of a woman's voice? This is a beautiful line, one of his best ever. He's tired of the cacophony, the "numb"-esque life on one hand, pleading for respite, but he's still got his straw in lemonade, can't resist it. Duality. Contrafuckingdiction.

Looking for the father of my two little girls

He's in this duality now, a child but a man. Doesn't know quite how to handle it, but he knows he can't afford to fuck this up. Can he have r&r and this other life? he desperately wants to still be a child though.

Got the swing got the sway got my straw in lemonade

This line conveys a sense of "whatever - i'm gonna do what i want" esp after that previous line of the two littlegirls. But lemonade- can be sour! or too tart! it's a very cheeky thing to say, defiant, him with his McPhisto smug expression. Beautiful rhythm in this line also. Which is why he chose lemonade. Needed a 3-syllable word with stress on the last syllable to end the line. Rhythm is awesome. It DOES swing and sway.

Bubble popping sugar dropping rock and roll

Rock and roll is like a drug to him. it also entials a lifestyle for many people that exists soley for the sugar dropping. good and bad. sugar is sweet but sugar dropping (now meaning the drugs) is obviously not so sweet. "Ya know you're chewing bubblegum" metaphor is extended here! And also nice drug imagery that is verrrry subtle with the "dropping".

Soothe me mother Rule me father Fool me brother Woo me sister

Each have their own position. Moms are supposed to soothe. Father's to rule. brothers, well think of "for the first time's line about brothers". and sisters are supposed to woo, and talk sweet. (Also, we know Bono extends the word sister to encompass all women- even his wife/lovers. Does not necessarily limit the woman to a relative sister). But aren't these exact stereotypes? but stereotype are easy and comfortable b/c you always get what
you expect, quite unlike the real thing.

How about the title? He never sings MOFO aloud, exceptin concerts. It's one of the few songs without a direct reference to the song title in the song. The only sense I can make of it is it's a title to throw off the people sniffing around the song for the truth of it. Bono dons his sunglasses. Like Achtung
Baby to throw people off the fact that it was a "heavy mother".

You took the soul in me and put a HOLE in me This lyric from I Will Follow comes directly after Mofo. That live lyrics change says a lot and intensifies the Follow/Mofo combination.

Girl comes up to me says Hey Bono,
I want to play with your band, Sweet Jane...

* U2TakeMeHigher *
Love the analysis, but I have to disagree with you on one line:

"White Dopes on Punk staring into the flash, Looking for the baby Jesus under the trash."

I think this line is autobiographical and a little more literal than you said. I think it could be refering to the four band members who were infatuated with the "Punk" music revolution in the late 70's & Early 80's. And this infatuation with Punk Rock music mixed with a heavily strict religious backround caused a little dilemma in the arly part of their careers. So this line refers to the band members search for God under the trash whilst being in love with the lifestyles of the Rock and Roll famous.

"You gotta put the women and children first, but you've got an unquenchable thirst for New York..."
Oliveu2cm...I loved your observation about this energetic, enigmatic song. MOFO is one of those songs that grab your attention immediately with its driving, maniacal keyboards, and thumping, hypnotic drumming. As you mentioned, the song gives us one of the most honest looks at Bono, and the dichotomy he faces of being a rock and roll icon, with his lifestyle that many of us will never know or be apart of, loved by millions, hated and jeered by others. At the same time, a husband, a father, a lover, a brother, a man of this world, facing the same heartache, and searching we all face in this life. Your bringing in other songs for justification hit the nail on the head in many instances in the song as well, that gave the song even more depth?great insights!

Sicy- exactly!

Spanisheyes- thanks for your comments, although I can't take credit all by myself- VelvetDress wrote the analysis with me. But i know we both appreciate it. The reason the song interested me so much was b/c Bono said it could sum him up. We didn't even touch upon how it SOUNDS, which could make the analysis dangerously long! lol

tackleberry- point well taken. I think you've hit on something there, too. that line was tricky at first. But I agree with you- esp considering its placement in the song after having been around the back, been around the front, and followed by the Jesus reference. Very interesting!

Girl comes up to me says Hey Bono,
I want to play with your band, Sweet Jane...

* U2TakeMeHigher *
Wow, hard to believe Pop was the album that "immediately" (even if it was three years) preceded ATYCLB. During the year or so that I spent with Pop (i.e. before it went into more even rotation with the rest of the albums), I was convinced it was their best album, period. Now of course, it jockeys with JT and AB for that title, but Mofo remains, to me, the best fucking recording they ever made.
Screaming, driving, harrowing, and Bono's voice in pieces (yes, olive, to talk about the sound is a whole other level) -- Discotheque, Do You Feel Loved, and then this: welcome to Pop. Yikes. Mofo is Bono's secret heart laid bare, all of the currents in him rising at once and threatening to rip him apart.

Mother sucking rock and roll
I always took that to be a deliberate, poetic, heartrending change to the phrase. Onstage, he actually sucks his thumb. That sums up all those currents: fame. loss. fear. shame. wealth. I've only just seen Popmart for the first time (missed the tour)...damn, I can hardly bear to watch him. His pain is palpable, esp. following that with I Will Follow. The first sentence out of his mouth, in a maelstrom of cold light and mechanical apocalypse, is Lookin' for to save my, save my soul... It breaks my heart. So does his taunt to the audience: Tell me, NO! [but do they respond?] Tell me, NO!

"White punks on dope," by the way, was a phrase associated with the Sex Pistols (I think...vague recollection; coulda been the Clash) back in the Seventies. A deliberate allusion.

And the four lines, the chant that closes the song and finds the singer restored to full voice, lifts it to the prayer that it is:
soothe me, Mother
Rule me, Father
Move me, Brother
Woo me, Sister

These are less "stereotypes," I think, than archetypes, brilliantly succinct aspects of the Feminine and Masculine Principles within us (or, if you prefer, faces of God)... and already the stuff of an entire album, AB. Lost in his own weakness, disgusted by his own ego, this is the sound of a man who has slipped out of reach of the Rock of his salvation; ...driftin', driftin' from the shore...slowly goin' under (thanks NotGeorge for that insight into Lemon. I didn't know that story)... His recall of it alone is the last thread he has to reach for.
God, I'm so rattled by his performance on Popmart Mexico, I need some input. Am I alone in this?? But that needs a separate topic...

Deb D

***Grace makes beauty out of ugly things***

the greatest frontman in the world -- by truecoloursfly:
good work, U2...olive2cm and Velvetdress
and Not George Lucas as well, very good
Their songs are always worth to analyse and discuss, especially one like Mofo, which means so much for Bono.

Seu pa?s ? lindo. Seu povo ? lindo. Suas vozes s?o lindas. N?o esqueceremos voc?s. - Bono - S?o Paulo - 01/31/1998
Very interesting.

Here's my thoughts on Mofo. Keep a few things in mind when you read this:

1. Bono is very naked in this song. It's very autobiographic. It's his Chasing Amy, if you will.

2. One major theme in Pop is a criticism of pop music. Much of what's said on the album is cleverly disguised as trashym throwaway pop grooves. Discotheque, for example, is all about how much pop music sucks.

3. U2 likes to refer to previous songs. More on that after the commercial break.

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Welcome back. Mofo is a fascinating song. Let's go through it together.

Looking for to save my save my soul
Bono is lost. He's having a bit of a crisis of faith. This crisis has been going on since the beginning of his career as a musician. He's finally coming out and addressing it.

Looking in the places where no flowers grow
Looking for to fill that God shaped hole

He wants to find God, and he's looking everywhere. He still hasn't found what he's looking for. Throughout this song, there's a sort of desperation in his voice. He feels trapped without that thing to fill the hole. The hole, of course, was left by the loss of his mother. There is a direct link between his mother and God. He has neither, so he tries to fill it with...

Mother...mother sucking rock and roll
Why sucking? Why not fucking? It's no secret that a working title for this song was MFRR, shirt for Mother Fucking Rock 'n' Roll. Why change to sucking? My guess is to avoid the Parental Advisory sticker.

Holy dunc, spacejunk coming in for the splash
I agree with what oliveu2cm said about this line.

(Been around the back...been around the front)
Edge sings this bit. Not Bono. It's also heavily distorted. Why? No idea. What does it mean? It brings to mind a part of a video game in which the character has to find a way to break into the palace. Both entrances are closed, so she has to find another way in.

White dopes on punk staring into the flash
Honestly, "White punks on dope" seems to make more sense. Nevertheless, I agree with oliveu2cm again.

Looking for the baby Jesus under the trash
Here's another interpretation. Remember how I said that Pop is about how pop music sucks? I think he's saying that there is no substance in it. It's all image. It goes with the previous line, too. He's got this crap music that he's looking for God in. Why Jesus instead of God, though? He's been around back and around front, trying to reach God. God's got his phone off the hook, though. He wants to use Jesus as a means to get to God. This is made more clear in Wake Up Dead Man, when he says, "Could you put a word in for me?"

So, he's sifting through garbage, trying to find Christ, since he know this is where Christ hangs out. I still your son
You know I've waited for so long to hear you say so

He has no relationship with his mother. Of course, this is to be expected, since she passed away when he was 15, but he still yearns for that relationship. left and made me someone
Now I'm still a child, no one tells me no

Look back at U2's career. How many songs have been written about his mother? He misses her, and he's devoted his entire life to being with her again. Where has that led him? Now he's a tired old pop star in platform shoes. He can do what he wants, now. He's a big rich rock star. He needs that person to ive him limits. He's still a child at heart.

Looking for a sound that's going to drown out the world
This kind of goes back to Achtung Baby. In AB, he embraced the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, but now it's too much for it. It's all too much. The world is too much. Too much is not enough. The world is not enough. Funny, they just toured with Garbage. Anyway, I digress. The pop star life is too much for him, and he doesn't want it. He wants something to drown it out. He doesn't want to be a pop star.

Looking for the father of my two little girls
He wants a simpler life. He wants to be normal. He wants to be the father he never was.

Got the swing got the sway got my straw in lemonade
The lemon appears again. It first appeared on Zooropa in the song, aptly titled Lemon. This is a classic throwaway song with great depth. It's almost a precursor to Mofo. Lemon is a song about his mother. He found an old picture of her, and she was wearing a lemon yellow dress, so he wrote the song. The song is all about trying to reach her and to find her, but never succeeding. No he's got his lemonade, which, as we all know, is watered down, hevily sweetened lemon. Again with the commentary on music lacking substance.

Still looking for the face I had before the world was made
He's looking for his innocence.

Bubble popping sugar dropping rock and roll
Throw in the criticism of pop music with the interpretation that oliveu2cm posted, and I think you might have something.
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