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Am I The Only One?

Monday, August 22, 2005

We're One... But We're Not The Same

I remember a cold November evening in 1991... My then-girlfriend, now-wife was throwing me an impromptu birthday party when I heard the opening chords of U2's new song "One". Now, I'd been a big U2 fans since 1982, but I'd been disappointed with albums like Rattle 'n' Hum and was starting to write them off -- but this song, with its beautiful guitar work and sad lyrics, changed all that.

I mention all this because several music mags have rated "One" as a top rock song. Q Magazine named it the #1 rock song of all time -- although any list that puts Eminem and Destiny's Child in the top 10 is obviously discredited. Rolling Stone put it at #36 of all time, which is probably closer to it's rightful spot. In the accompanying article, however, The Edge points out some funny misunderstandings about the song.
"I often come across people who've told me they played it at their wedding," the Edge said. "And I think, 'Have you listened to the lyrics? It's not that kind of a song.'"

Quite! For those not familiar with the song, it appears to be about a couple with a legacy of marital problems, sung from the perspective of the one asking for forgiveness for an extramarital affair:
"Is it getting better / Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you / Now you got someone to blame?"

An odd song to pick for your wedding, that's for certain.

Personally, I've always picked up an alternative message in the song: a metaphor for the Jewish-Palestinian relationship, ostensibly sung from the perspective of either side:
"Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
We hurt each other
Then we do it again"

And then the final verses, about the struggle find common ground in the negotiation for peace:
"I ask you to enter / But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on, to what you got
When all you got is hurt"


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