Know Your Bonoisms, Part 17 – Blinding U2 Lyrics

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By now, we all know Bono has glaucoma. U2 Radio has already addressed the shocking announcement here, with Joepit’s piece that pointed out one of U2’s most eyesight-centric lyrics, “Vision over visibility” (good eye, Joe!). But let’s be honest, U2 fans: How shocking is this announcement, really? Bono’s first time addressing the glasses issue was actually nine years ago, when he told Rolling Stone, “If somebody takes my photograph, I will see the flash for the rest of the day. My right eye swells up. I’ve a blockage there, so that my eyes go red a lot.” For whatever reason, the only part of that quote that gets printed, typically, is the next part: “So it’s part vanity, it’s part privacy and part sensitivity.” For people who remember the first part, the revelation that greatest rock star alive today suffers from glaucoma might not come as a surprise.

Now, it’s time to pick out some other U2 lyrics that make reference to Bono’s floundering eyesight. Consider these, most of which we just heard for the first time around six weeks ago:

“Your eyes were like landing lights
They used to be the clearest blue
Now you don’t see so well
The future’s gonna land on you”

“Something in your eyes
Took a thousand years to get here”

“Hold me close…the darkness just lets us see”

“Free yourself, to be yourself, if only you could see yourself
Free yourself, to be yourself, if only you could see… ”

“Don’t look before you laugh
Look ugly in a photograph
Flash bulbs, purple irises the camera can’t see”

“I am still enchanted by the light you brought to me; I listen through your ears, and through your eyes I can see.”

Yes, I could have gone crazy with theories that “See the stone set in your eyes; see the thorn twist in your side” is a reference to the early stages of glaucoma, but let’s not get carried away. The condition was diagnosed 20 years ago, so I think that any references to eyesight in U2’s lyrics are purely coincidental prior to Achtung Baby – and as you can see (oops), these are all ATYCLB and after.

It’s fascinating that four of these are from SOI, and three of them are from “Iris” alone. I have always held the theory that there is a reason for Bono removing his glasses when singing about his parents (see DVD performances of “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own” and “City of Blinding Lights” – OMG, I just realized: “blinding”!). So, could this be part of the reason? Let me know what you think!

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Brook

Writer, wife and mom who loves U2. Achtung Baby was released on my 15th birthday. Shooting off my mouth, that's another great thing about me. Contact via Twitter at @U2RadioBrook.