PART 3 - RAISED BY WOLVES
If track 6 on Songs of Innocence is a Volcano about to blow then Raised By Wolves, that continues the heavy sinister sounds of this section of the album, is about something that has exploded and blown Dublin city apart. On May 17th 1974 loyalist paramilitaries detonated three bombs at rush hour. Another one went off in Monaghan. Bono has often spoken about how he might have been caught up in the carnage had he not taken the bike instead of the bus that particular Friday.
His friend Andy Rowen wasn’t so lucky. Caught up in the bombing Andy was out doing deliveries with his father and what he saw that day would have a volcanic impact on his life to quote the previous song. Bono explains in the liner notes of the album how Andy turned to drugs to deal with it. The U2 song Bad was written about Andy and Bono calls him a hero.
Revisiting his teenage years for the inspiration to these songs, it was obvious that this incident would be featured. U2 have been been involved in the Northern Ireland Troubles since they wrote Sunday Bloody Sunday for the War album. Raised By Wolves might be seen as a tragic twin of that song. That Bono just missed this bomb, and that no doubt Andy would share the terror and horror with his mates on Cedarwood Road, must be a major contributing factor as to why Bono took such in interest in The Troubles, that mainly took place in another country, Northern Ireland, some 60 miles north of Dublin, the capital of the Republic Of Ireland.
Of course Bono doesn’t remain in 1974 in the song. You sense that he is using it to talk about the very contemporary terror where religious militants are filling our News reports, doing inhumane things in the name of belief all across the world. Two lines grabbed my attention for 1974 and 2014:
“of a cross in a passion where the passion is hate”
“the worst things in the world are justified by belief.”
Raised by Wolves is a fascinating title. Where does that come from? What does it mean? My friend Bob Flayhart pointed me to where I think the strongest clues are. Jesus spoke of wolves in the Sermon On The Mount; “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)” When the apostle Paul was giving his farewell address to the elders in Ephesus he warned them, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. (Acts 20:29). Raised By Wolves is a song where religion is perverted to kill. Such a twisting of the truth The Scriptures tells us is the work of wolves within the flock.
For me the line “Stronger than fear” has had me surmising. Is Bono saying that fear is the motivating factor of the wolves? Or is he leaving out a key word, maybe love, faith or hope, that is stronger than fear but absent from the wolves false teaching to the flock. If he is listening to Tupac than “Fear is stronger than love” but if Bono or maybe Ali is reading Joyce Meyer then she writes, “Faith if the only thing I know of stronger than fear.” Bono being a man of faith has often ruminated about the tiny tweaks that makes true faith a heresy and leads to monstrous acts done in the name of God.
Whatever… Raised By Wolves with its scary dark vocal gymnastics, reminding me of Hannibal Lecter noises, is the third song of trauma on Songs Of Innocence. Bono has seen tragedy personally and nationally. Where could a teenage boy find salvation in such a traumatic world… coming up in a climactic part 4…