The Wanderer: U2 / Johnny Cash

This song has been inescapable for me over the past few days. I have known of its existence for some time, I have heard it before, but for some reason when it popped up in my mp3 player the other day (set to "random") it made an impact. Since then I have listened to it probably 40 or more times, and I still haven’t made total sense out of it. In any case, I thought I should share the lyrics and recommend that you get a hold of a copy for yourself and give it a listen. For those who don’t know such things, its on U2’s Zooropa (and shame on you for not knowing that!).
I went out walking through the streets paved with gold
Lifted some stones
Saw the skin and bones
Of a city without a soul
I went out walking under an atomic sky
Where the ground wont turn
And the rain it burns
Like the tears when I said goodbye

Yeah I went with nothing
Nothing but the thought of you
I went wandering

I went drifting through the capitals of tin
Where men cant walk
Or freely talk
And sons turn their fathers in
I stopped outside a church house
Where the citizens like to sit
They say they want the kingdom
But they dont want God in it

I went out riding
Down that ol' eight lane
I passed by a thousand signs
Looking for my own name

I went with nothing
But the thought you'd be there too
Looking for you

I went out there
In search of experience
To taste and to touch
And to feel as much
As a man can
Before he repents

I went out searching, lookin' for one good man
A spirit who would not bend or break
Who would sit at his fathers right hand
I went out walking with a Bible and a gun
The word of God lay heavy on my heart
I was sure I was the one
Now jesus, dont you wait up
Jesus, Ill be home soon
Yeah I went out for the papers
Told her I'd be back by noon

Yeah I left with nothing
But the thought you'd be there too
Looking for you...
Yeah I left with nothing
Nothing but the thought of you...
I went wandering


Don't you love it when that happens? The same thing happened to me with Sufjan Stevens and a whole host of his songs. I'm assuming Cash wrote the lyrics. I love songs with ambiguous narrative and imagery. They allow us to do the work.
Ben Myers said…
Yes, I love that song -- it so perfectly captures Cash's persona.
Patrik said…
The lyrics are Bono's. He seems to be the best when he writes in character, which is very interesting indeed.

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