On the whole I've given U2 short thrift on this blog - I'm not really sure why because I've always been a big fan. I suspect it's because for the last couple of years I've found Bono's earnestness just a little too much. However, prompted today by my wife's departure for 8 days to Bosnia on an interfaith trip I checked out a song I've loved for a long time - Miss Sarajevo (The Passengers, 1995).
As I watched the video of the song - as below - it all came back to me. I remember being glued to the TV news during the war watching with grim fascination the pictures of the ordinary people of Sarajevo literally having to sprint for cover on the way to work to avoid the bullets around them. It was the weirdest of things seeing normality and war going on side by side. And U2 capture the sense of this paradox in the song magnificently (read about the song here). And as the beauty contestants hold up the sign saying 'don't let them kill us' the futility and pointlessness of it all becomes so stark.
I love the lyrics, too with their echo of Ecclesiastes. Until today I hadn't seen a translation of Pavarotti's part. Here it is:
You say that the river
finds the way to the sea
and like the river
you will come to me
beyond the borders
and the dry lands
You say that like a river
like a river...
the love will come
And i don't know how to pray anymore
and in love i don't know how to hope anymore
and for that love i don't know how to wait anymore
Powerful stuff, eh? And so, perhaps you'd like to spare a prayer for the people of Bosnia who have with such dignity begun to rebuild their country and my own 'Miss Sarajevo' who is there today.