Song For Someone is another of those beautifully crafted songs from Songs Of Innocence that can be played stripped down, like the piano version on the Deluxe version extra disc.
It is for Ali. Bono explained on the Innocence & Experience Tour that he was trying to impress her as a teenager and she told him she wasn’t interested in perfect. It has to be said that for Bono he was blessed that he met a life partner who does personify Christ’s idea of grace. It is easy to see how he can often blend and blur God and his wife in his songwriting.
He does it again here. The you is very obviously Ali for most of it but then:
And I'm a long way
From your hill on Calvary
And I'm a long way
From where I was, where I need to be
The romantic opens up to the spiritual. There marriage is anchored in their beliefs and their ambition is seeking that bigger vision.
The whole thing holds together in the chorus. We are back to that light that was the image of the Innocence & Experience Tour. The bulb above the stage, in the room that boy walks through on the screen during Song For Someone, the lightbulb on the t-shirt. The gist of the song is that whatever is going on around us there is a light that we need to cling to.
For me it took on new significance after the Paris terror attacks. It was a crystal clear moment in the midst of the bombardment of stimuli of that Tour. Bono is singing Song For Someone and a wee boy acting out Bono’s adolescence is sitting, strumming, walking around that house on Cedarwood Road where Bono first thought through Songs Of Innocence, forty years before he and his teenage mates made those experiences into song.
From out of this song of romantic love and spiritual pilgrimage these lines raised themselves into another dimension in my ears:
“If there is a dark,
that we shouldn’t doubt
And there is a light
Don’t let it go out.”
In Belfast the concert was just five days after the Paris attacks. Europe felt the darkness that large swathes of the planet feels every single day, much of it never making the news. Dark. Evil. So, Bono throws a twist to the lyric of Song For Someone, "I know there's so many reasons to doubt/But there is a light/ Don't let it go out"...
Reasons to doubt. But hang on to the light… My soul jumped. A powerfully subtle preach.
When U2 sing of the light, be in no doubt, it is the light of faith. Jesus said he was the light. U2 never ignore the dark. In the midst of the dark they shine or sing about a light. A light that bring hope. For those who believe, the dark can be a challenge. The events of Paris can test the soul. As they did after 9/11 in America, U2 become the pastors to a world living in the traumas of terrorism…“And there is a light… Don’t let it go out.”