"['Mofo'] . . . became the heaviest song maybe we've ever written. I feel like my whole life is in that one tune."
Like A Song: Hawkmoon 269
October 10, 2013
[Ed. note: This is the 80th in a series of personal essays by the @U2 staff about songs and/or albums that have had great meaning or impact in our lives. In honor of Rattle And Hum's 25th Anniversary, this month's column features a song from that album. The related story links at the bottom are also songs from the Rattle And Hum era.]
I pledged my undying devotion to U2 upon first hearing "Hawkmoon 269." As I wrote a few years back, it hooked me right there on the spot. I didn't care what the critics said about Rattle And Hum. This song wasn't in the film, but the song could stand on its own without being on a soundtrack. It earned its place in the U2 pantheon as a tour opener song during the LoveTown tour.
A quarter-century later, I'm finding myself coming back to "Hawkmoon 269," needing to be hooked on U2 again. With the many challenges going on in my life at the moment, I've grown more distant with my passions out of necessity. It's been about my family and keeping everything moving in a forward motion. This six-minute simile-laced lesson cuts at the heart of what's been taking me away from those passions, eats at the core of my frustration with my family's situation and reminds me that I need to have hope.
Like a desert needs rain
There comes a point where the emotional well is dry. Being a protective mama bear, I am pouring myself into my children more than I probably should. As I wrote in a previous Like A Song column, my son has a mild autism spectrum disorder, and I'm happy to report that he's making great strides and progress. He's now in first grade and we're finding ourselves at odds with the public school system with the way it wants to educate him. With the same intensity Bono sings "I need your love," I'm asking for answers to the questions I've been posing for more than 12 months now. As much as a desert needs rain, parents need answers, and we're still seeking them.
Our daughter has been quite understanding through it all, but she's reached an age where she's discovering her independence. She's strong willed, which is great; however, that emotional struggle in the toddler stage has really taken a great deal out of me as well. I've had family members laugh it off and tell me, "Wait until the teenage years -- you think you have it bad now?!" There are days when I look to her and think all I need is a bit of love right now. As much as a town needs a name, she needs understanding, which will only come with maturity. I shouldn't be having an emotional battle with a 4-year-old when all I'm seeking is peace in the situation.
Through managing all of these busy lives, my husband and I are nothing more than drifters needing a room. Most days, he's gone to work before the sun comes up, and it’s the children's bedtime by the time he gets home. I'm too exhausted to do anything else other than sleep. It's an awful place to find yourself, and while I know that we are both in a committed, loving relationship, the inability for us to find quiet time for ourselves only brings more ache and yearning to "I need your love." We know that we are in that period of our relationship where it's no longer about wooing each other, getting flowers or having candlelit evenings, but talking with each other more by phone while in the car than we are in our house is frustrating, to say the least.
Like a Phoenix rising needs a holy tree
What keeps me going is this light at the end of the tunnel. We can see it, and we are confident that once we get through the tunnel, things will start to lessen up. I envision our family as the phoenix rising out of the holy tree, transformed by what we have been through and prepared to bring good out of the fire that's consumed us. I'm not the type of person who seeks revenge from enemies, but I will say that after all that my son has been through over these 12 months, I hope for vindication and justice for him. At age six, he has been through more than his fair share of misunderstanding, false accusations and a system that lacked compassion.
I may not be able to get what I want, but I've always received what I've needed. While I wanted answers, what I really needed is love. Not only to receive it, but to offer it. As empty as my well is, that love continues to be replenished. I'm of the belief that God is love, and throughout all of these struggles, He continues to provide for me, yet I struggle with the why of it all. Why would God put me through this season of emotional famine, heartache and struggle? I know He's been with me this whole time, but why allow all this turmoil occur when I've been faithful? To put it "Hawkmoon" style:
Like a story to be told
Like a purpose for your life
"Hawkmoon 269" reminds me of my innocence when I first heard it at age 15, and how much growing up I have done over these 25 years. I can understand the similes with much more depth, and the pain behind the repeated "I need your love" declarations. If someone were listening, you'd only have to say it once. The repetitiveness of that one line makes me think that Bono's trying to get through to someone in the song. This is like my constant questioning of my family's situation, and I've yet to get through to those with the answers. You don't know by the end of the song if the message got through -- if the love became reciprocated. I hope that's not the case in my life.
© @U2/Lawrence, 2013.