One song that I could have covered on any of the band’s tours over the last twenty years is “Until the End of the World”, which was originally released in 1991 as part of Achtung Baby.
The song took its title from the Wim Wenders film of the same name, in which it appeared in altered form, and although it was never released as a single, it seems that that was the plan at one time. The song does have an official promotional video, and since its release the song has been a favorite of the band’s, appearing at over five hundred concerts, even warranting inclusion on U2’s Best of 1990-2000 compilation. It’s not hard to understand why the band apparently think so highly of the song, with its intelligent, thought-provoking lyric and high-energy, guitar-heavy arrangement.
Lyrically, the song is about the relation between Judas Iscariot and Jesus, as told from Judas’ point of view. The first verse is about the final supper, the second verse references the events involving Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the third verse speaks about Judas’ feelings after his betrayal of Christ. I’ve always found it interesting to note that Bono sings about Judas feeling “waves of joy” along with the regret that he must have been wracked with. Perhaps Bono is intimating that Judas, although filled with feelings guilt, also knew the importance of the role he plated in the Biblical story of Jesus’ sacrifice – without Judas, without a bad guy to betray him, Jesus could not have made the sacrifice that is so integral to Christianity’s beliefs.
A highlight of many shows on the ZooTV, PopMart, and Elevation Tours was the bull fight acted out by Bono and Edge during the song’s climax (which I believe is meant to sound like “the end of the world”). Of course, the bull, played by Bono, could easily also stand for another being traditionally depicted with horns, The Devil. I always feel, while watching this mini-drama play out, that the two were acting out the scene that must have taken place in the conscience of Judas as he felt himself being pulled between “good” and “evil”. How interesting that by serving the “evil” side he ultimately fulfilled a greater good in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
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