read Jeff Kuess:
“With or Without You” – is a song of longing to be alive, yet the resolution to this longing is not to be found in the accumulation of material wealth, experiences or even just having more time. Rather, the protagonist of the song comes to the realization that to be fully alive will require binding his life to the one he loves and in doing so, will end any sense of selfhood he had previously known or aspired to. As the protagonist wails in both lament and exaltation the refrain “with or without you, I cannot live”, the song moves from mere lyrics to a release into something beyond categories. At approximately three minutes into the song, lead singer Bono moves from words into a scream that is the sonic representation of Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting “The Scream.” With this release of the self into the sound beyond mere words, this simple pop song points toward much of what Lent is about.
After Bono’s scream of release quiets down and Edge slowly brings the song to a close with Adam’s steady bassline, I am left asking the question: Is what it means to be in the world either about gathering things to ourself – people, experiences, material possessions, knowledge – as an accumulating mode that ever increases and never relinquishes? Or are we merely to absolve everything, put the responsibility on mentors, doctrines, traditions and take no responsibility for our lives? Both paths in absolute will be our death. -Jeff Keuss,