"I might be a hero on stage, but off-stage I'm an anti-hero."
Like a Song: Mysterious Ways
November 19, 2010
[Ed. note: This is the 50th 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.]
I will forever associate "Mysterious Ways" with two things: yogurt and ponytails.
I've got two different tales of this song wielding its way into my heart.
I don't like grocery shopping, so I usually go to the supermarket early, around 6 a.m. on a Saturday, to get it over with and avoid crowds. The only obstacles are morning-shift employees surrounded by boxes in the aisles as they stock the shelves.
About a month ago I was on my usual morning spree when "Mysterious Ways" came on over the sound system, part of the store's loop of music to shop by.
I thought I heard someone other than Bono singing, "You've been living underground, eating from a can," but decided I was just having audio hallucinations after walking down the canned-vegetable aisle.
When I arrived at the dairy products, however, I found the faux Bono: an employee unpacking containers of yogurt from a stack of boxes. He was moving in his own mysterious ways to the music.
Every time Bono sang out "It's all right, it's all right," he joined in -- loud, clear and with conviction. And the "If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel / On your knees, boy" line made him do just that: slide down on his knees.
And in that moment, everything really was all right. I was not slogging through the chore of going to the grocery store, overwhelmed as usual thinking about 17,000 brands of cereal and the people who don't have any food at all.
I didn't care about anything but the sheer funkiness and fun of the song and this guy on his knees in an absurd posture of thanks.
My absolute favorite moment from the U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle DVD is on the "Mysterious Ways" bonus track when Bono draws his daughter Eve, then 10 years old, onstage to dance with him.
She's the picture of casual tween fashion, dressed in checked shirt with a sweatshirt around her waist, her hair pulled up in a short pony tail. She moves in the most casual way, swinging her head, dancing in a gracefully awkward way, clearly reveling in the dance with her dad.
And the moment I melt? After a chorus of "Lift my days, light up my nights," the singing stops, and for 15 seconds Bono just holds Eve tightly, pulling her head and its ponytail against him, humming lightly.
I think every girl, no matter how old she is, wants her daddy to love her that much -- and to show it.
One day you'll look back, and you'll see
Where you were held
How by this love while you could stand there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling
That's how I feel at a U2 concert: held by love, ready to follow any and all feelings.