U2, MLK, John Lewis, Donald Trump, and W.B. Yeats – Forever On The Same Soundtrack

This past weekend served as a reminder that there is an ever-growing soundtrack of songs that not only keeps playing in the back of my mind at all times but that keeps growing because the story of my life as it becomes wrapped up in the story of others becomes bigger. And greater.

And the songs that played in my head this weekend more than the others came from one group: U2.

Not many bands have stayed together for thirty years with all of the original members. Not all bands in the liner notes of each album credit the just the group with songwriting.

Today is the day that our country honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy for the fight for civil rights. And I am reminded of the first U2 album that I ever owned.

On cassette tape.

The Unforgettable Fire.

the_unforgettable_fire

Track #2 is “Pride: In the Name of Love.” It is a song written about King. And while some critics in the 1980’s may have not received the song as highly as the charts did, it is probably one of the most enduring songs of U2’s career. Take away the fact that King did not die “Early morn, April 4,” but rather that evening, I find the lyrics to stirringly austere.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

 

And there’s that reference to the Judas kiss – the betrayal of betrayals. And to think that MLK was a man of God.

Words like “pride” can have so many connotations – some negative, some positive. But in this song about this man it wonderfully collides with the word “love.” And “love” is such an active word. Love should take energy to give, to show. Also, it gives energy if you allow yourself to receive it.

However, that is not the only U2 song that came about this weekend to the music box in my head.

Last Friday, the Freedom Fighter Rep. John Lewis, a 30-year representative of Georgia’s 5th district, said in an interview on NBC what he thought of Donald Trump’s election as president.

From nbcnews.com (http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/john-lewis-leads-charge-against-donald-trump-u-s-marks-n707156),

Lewis said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday, that he doesn’t believe Trump is a “legitimate president” and that he wouldn’t be attending the presidential inauguration for the first time in his 30-year political career, citing the intelligence community’s explosive findings over Russian hacking of the presidential election.

“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people, but it’s going to be very difficult,” Lewis said in the interview, which was recorded Friday. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” the Georgia Democrat added.

Rep. Lewis can say that. First Amendment rights. God knows Trump uses them plentifully. Trump in his news conference earlier last week even admitted to the Russians hacking, but not to what extent its effects may have been.

Trump quickly shot back through Twitter:

trumplewistweet

All talk?

No action?

Don’t think I have lost the U2 connection because it’s deep here.

selma

The picture above is from the march in 1965 in Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That’s John Lewis in the front. He was often with MLK as one of his closest allies, friends, and confidantes.

On Sunday, Rep. Lewis responded to Trump on NBC’s Meet the Press,

Rep. John Lewis said he would not invite President-elect Donald Trump to visit Selma, Alabama, with him, though he also would not “do anything to prevent him from coming.”

On what became known as “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, Lewis was badly beaten by Alabama state troopers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march for voting rights.

Bloody Sunday.

Lewis had his skull fractured that day.

alabama_state_troopers_attack_john_lewis_at_the_edmund_pettus_bridge__public_domain_

That’s actually a picture of it.

So, the song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” began to resonate in my head.

From U2’s album War, the song remembers the January 30th, 1972 massacre in Northern Ireland when British troops opened fire on unarmed protesters. Fourteen people were killed – seven were teenagers.

Yes…

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long…
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long…
’cause tonight…we can be as one
Tonight…

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
Torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long…
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long…
’cause tonight…we can be as one
Tonight…tonight…

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Oh, wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On…

Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sunday Bloody Sunday…

 

  1. A conflict over who controlled whom with religious interpretations as part of the division.

And every time I think of U2, I think of the fact that they are from Ireland which is the homeland of my last name as the only son of an only son of an only son in an Irish Roman Catholic family.

And I think of the fact that I am a native Georgian, having lived in the Atlanta area two different times in my life, who just happened to be born in Selma, Alabama in 1970 as my Irish Catholic father was stationed at an Air Force base there for a brief time.

And I think of the only time that I ever saw U2 live in concert at Philips Arena in 2002. My wife was pregnant at the time with our daughter who still has her red hair and looks as Irish as a Yeats poem. She knows a U2 song when she hears it.

Phillips Arena is in Atlanta.

Specifically, the 5th district.

Represented at that time in the House of Representatives by John Lewis.

Still is.

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