How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

u2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a great album. It was a Christmas present from my son Samuel. Not as musically spectacular or unique as “All That You Cant Leave Behind”, but as a coherent collection of songs, it offers good insight on how to change the world for the better. It begins, at least in my interpretation, with the state of the world (Vertigo) and progresses through possible cures (Miracle Drug) and issues before climaxing with the song “Yawheh”

2 songs stand out with prophetic lyrics (apart from “Crumbs From Your Table that i mentioned earlier)

Numer 6 – ‘All Because of You’ speaks to me of a rocky journey in and out of the established church . .

“I was born a child of grace

nothing else about the place

Everything was ugly but your beautiful face

And it left me no illusion . . ”

“Some people get squashed crossing the tracks

Some people got high rises on their backs

I’m not broke but you can see the cracks

You can make me perfect again”

Number 11 – ‘Yahweh’ – seems to be the climax of the album. It avoides fundamentalism:

“Take these hands

Don’t make a fist”

and offers an urban missiology for city transformation that starts with us . . .

“Take this city

A city should be shining on a hill

Take this city if it be your will

What no man can own, no man can take

Take this heart

Take this heart

Take this heart

And make it break

I haven’t checked out if agree with me or not, but i would go there next for further insight and discussion rather than commenting here.

Buy: Bono | U2 | Crumbs From Your Table | How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb | 2004


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • myles says:

    i thought this album was profoundly better than the last one. it reeks with biblical themes; it’s beautiful.

  • cheryl says:

    Ah, U2, U2. I was a U2 fan bordering on idolatrous as a teenager in the 80’s. In the 90’s I gave up “secular” music. Thank God I found my way out of that trap. I think their latest album has the best lyrics in 20 years. But i find that the song that lifts my spirits the most is “City of Blinding Lights”. That song sends me into 2 year old mode (again! again!). I thank God for their incredible longevity and the impact they have made on others. 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    actually Cheryl, thats the song that is already playing in my mind as i am writing this.

  • Beth says:

    Thanks for the link, Andrew. I like your description of what they’ve called the “arc from fear to faith” of this CD. I haven’t done a complete review at the sermons book blog myself, actually, tho I wrote a piece on “Yahweh” (a song about which I’m somewhat ambivalent) and will probably be posting one on “Love and Peace or Else” soon. I agree that “City of Blinding Lights” is great, though, and will be massive live.

  • magz says:

    I just eat them up with an utter lack of discernment I’m afraid. I find their music great to write to. Their lyrics shift and quiver back and forth across time and world events a bit like prayers. They are so ‘plugged in’ to whatever’s going down and that is as inspiring as their music.

  • Edward Pillar says:

    Hi Andrew – great to have a son who is so discerning as to give you the U2 CD as a present. I am well on the way to brainwashing my kids (Zoe, 8 and Isaac 6) having played it in the car incessantly since it came out.
    I have been a ‘follower’ of U2 since I saw them at Greenbelt in 1981 and have seen them every tour since!! Oh, for the days the tickets were only £2:50!!! and you could get close enough to touch them!!
    Interpreting the songs…hmmm.
    Vertigo is about being at the top of the world musically – fame and fortune and everything that comes with it. There is a thrill and fear to be in such a position. The bridge – @’all of this could be yours…etc’ is reminiscent of the temptation of Jesus – worship me etc. But the very next phrase is – ‘your love is teaching me how to kneel’ – recognising and humbling oneself before the love of God from a position of fame etc.
    Miracle Drug is about Christopher Norton – a yong man who started at U2s old school just as they wre leaving it. He is profoundly disabled. Everyone though he was a cabbage – with nothing going on itside except his mother who held on to the hope that even though he couldn’t move he was alive inside. Everyday she would talk to him, read poetry and novels to him. One day the doctors changed his medication and the ‘miracle drug’ gave him slight movement in his head. They fitted him with a ‘stick’ fastened to his forehead, put him in front of a keybaord and he began to write poems and books.
    Sometimes you can’t make it on your own – is about his relationship with his dad (their next UK single)
    City of blinding lights is about New York – their first visit flying in and seeing all the lights. But also a link back to 2001 when they wre the first band to play New York after 9/11. At one point the lights lit up the crowd and Bono could see that many were in tears at the awesomeness of the experience and Bono began to sing – ‘Oh, you look so beautiful, tonight.’
    Blah blah blah – not that I’m obsessed!! Ho ho.
    Its a great album – looking forward to seeing them later this year.

  • Danny Gandy says:

    I got the album as a christmas gift also and am enjoying it in the car. It rocks, even though it isn’t the best album I’ve ever heard. Its the first U2 album that I have – is it normal that the Band is so spiritual?

  • Ben says:

    Edward: It’s Christopher Nolan, not Norton.
    Danny: Yeah, they’re rather compulsively spiritual, at least many times more so than the average stuff you’d hear nowadays.

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