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Mysterious Ways

by

U2



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

From Into The Heart by Niall Stokes: "It's a song about a man living on little or no romance," Bono says. "It's a song about women - or a woman - but it's addressed to him." Bono talks a bit about theology and about El Shadi - the third and least used name for God in the Bible, which translates as "the breasted one." "I've always believed that the spirit is a feminine thing," he says. "Mysterious Ways" is not about a particular woman. It is about women in general, and the way they entrance, and often dominate men. Says Bono, "At times I do tend to idealize women. It's easy to fall into the trap of separating them into angels and devils for the sake of the drama. But there's no way that there's ever anything anti-women involved. Our songs are not politically correct. They are written from a man's point of view. He's wrestling with different things, there's a flash of anger and hurt here and there. But I don't think women come out badly." (thanks, Oscar - College Station, TX)
While recording this in Berlin, U2 came up with the basis for their song "One." In a rush of creativity, they put together "One" and finished "Mysterious Ways" later. This was very refreshing for the band - they were having a hard time coming up with anything and even considered breaking up.
The line: "If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel - on your knees boy!" is probably a reference to oral sex, although it can have a more innocent religious meaning.
Bono performed this on the Zoo TV tour in character as The Fly, a parody of an egomaniacal rock star, wearing huge sunglasses and leather.
U2 performed this on the Zoo TV tour with a bellydancer on stage for visual aids. The Edge took up with Morleigh Steinberg, who was the dancer for part of the tour. He went on to marry her. (thanks, Viv - Windhoek, Africa)
A dance remix by Paul Oakenfold became popular in clubs.
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Comments (36):

Definitely, one of my top U2 bits. From Edge's slinky, powerful guit fiddle lines to the great lyrics. I interpret the words to be just a homage to the mystical, loving, low ,cruel spinning, intergalctic enigma called WOMAN.
- P.A, co. spgs., CO
I always thought "She" represents Mary, the mother of Jesus. After all she moves in "mysterious ways". "She's the wave, she turns the tide." The U2 members are Irish from Ireland, which means their Catholic up bring might have influence this song.
- Mark, San Antonio, TX
U2 has one foot in the secular and the other in the spiritual, so it's not surprising to see different interpretations of this song. This one is both about a woman and Spirit personified as a woman. It is also a sensual song, but I think Chris from DC goes too far with his transgender theory. On the spiritual side, listen to the backing vocals at the end of the song. At 3:32, they sing "Sprirt moves in mysterious ways."
- DadRock, Naperville, IL
Although U2 can be religious and political they are rock stars. Sex, drugs and rock n' roll. They've been in to and out of all of the above. Just because you enjoy/have sex does not remove your choice to be religious.
- Steph, Toronto, ON
aaaw, you're all so boring and shallow!

If you want it to be about God, let it be, if you want it to be about sex, let it be about that!

This is rock 'n' roll kids, better get used to it...
- Ady, Leicester, United Kingdom
I personally don't believe that that is a reference to oral sex. A lot of U2's songs are extremely spiritual, and have many references to faith and God.. why would this one particular line mean anything different than praying on your knees as a form of worshiping the Lord?
- Dana, Coventry, RI
One of my very favorite U2 songs! I love it's beat and the lyrics are amazing.
- Krista, Carbondale, PA
To me this song is very personal and I have my own interpretation.

To me this song is very spiritual, so I interperate the line as:

"if you want to touch the sky, better know how to kneel line as : the best way to get in touch with your spiritual side is to meditate/ pray which in most cases means kneeling.

To me it also seems to have a very pagan feel to it. your sister the rain, your sister the moon,she turns the tide...she sees the man inside the child..etc.

As if to acknowledge a divine feminine force in the world.

Call me crazy or whatever you want.. this is simply my opinion.
Its a great song, take what you need/want from it.
- DylAna, Valdosta, GA
After their dramatic success with [b]The Joshua Tree[/b] and an epic concert tour of the U.S., U2 completely reinvented their musical style on the album [b]Achtung Baby[/b]. Glorious pretensions gave way to some of the sexiest funky rock of the decade. "Mysterious Ways" features sinuous guitar work from The Edge and gospel-influenced vocals from Bono that drive home one of U2's most uninhibited pop-rock songs on record.
- Bertrand, Paris, France
Because of their piety and seriousness, U2 might not seem sexy at first, but I find a lot of their music extremely sexy, this song in particular. Of course, the relationship between a person and God can and often has been characterized as a sexual relationship.
- Kristina, Albuquerque, NM
After their dramatic success with [b]The Joshua Tree[b] and an epic concert tour of the U.S., U2 completely reinvented their musical style on the album [b]Achtung Baby[b]. Glorious pretensions gave way to some of the sexiest funky rock of the decade. "Mysterious Ways" features sinuous guitar work from The Edge and gospel-influenced vocals from Bono that drive home one of U2's most uninhibited pop-rock songs on record.
- Bertrand, Paris, France
Gee, I didn't know we all wore dresses and had long hair. Richard from Isle of Wight, you've been on your island too long. John in Madison WI, you by far have thought the most about this song. THAT is an interesting interpretation.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
This album is full of sexual references. Not just this one or the one mentioned earlier from "Acrobat," but there's one in "So Cruel": "She makes you watch her from above."
Yeah. U2 were going through a sexual revolution of sorts. Even religious people enjoy sex.
Besides, a couple of albums later they had a song called "Mofo." They're not all Jesus and rosaries, kids. If they were, they wouldn't be nearly as good as they are. They'd be kind of boring.
- Mark, Austin, TX
Some of it is about giving head?
- Rusty, Raleigh, NC
No. The line: "If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel - on your knees boy!" is about both prayer AND oral sex. Both are sincere forms of worship. Or your not doing them right.
- Bacchus, Portland, OR
i agree it is a NOT a reference to oral sex.
by the way it is one of my favorite songs!
- lily, godrics hallow, England
I thought this song was about a transgendered person. Why were the band members dressed in drag next on album cover?

"She moves in mysterious ways
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways
Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can't explain"

Clearly it's about a TG person, and her myserious way. Confused about her sexual identity and she is seeking acceptance from a higher being. They are saying it's alright, that the higher spirt will accept you for what you are.
- Chris, Washington, DC
the bit about kiss the sky... on your knees boy..is NOT a reference to sex.. please..
It's a reference to the church...the story of adam and eve... man's fall because of woman...
- windle, montgomery, AL
I Like the shirt Bono wears in the video for this one
- Takashi, Tokyo, Japan
I Like the shirt Bono wears in this one
- Takashi, Tokyo, Japan
i agree with kelly about praying to jesus on your knees and also to perth in australia mysterious ways is on the bonus track in the menu of the dvd in slane castle 2001
- Graham, Cork, Ireland
I hate that so many people know no other songs off Achtung Baby other than this one. This is the worst song off that album--way too poppy and light-hearted compared to the rest. Still good, but the rest of the album will blow your mind.
- Grant, Annandale, VA
Oh dear, Ryan. I had no idea the residents of Albion, New York state, were so sexually repressed: "if this was referring to oral sex,why would bono say on your knees BOY?" Ryan, son, men can give oral sex, too. Usually to a woman. W-O-M-A-N. They're the pretty humans that wear dresses and have long hair, Ryan. Perhaps you should drag yourself away from your computer and meet some.
- Richard, Newport, Isle of Wight, England
Mysterious Ways is on the Slane Castle's DVD as a bonus track. Bono was very kind to allow us to have access to his little daughter Eve dancing.
- Paula, Pt, Europe
This song references John the Baptist, does it not? As in, "Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain" refers to baptism. John the Baptist was a hermit- "You've been living underground".
- Amy Friel, Barrie, Canada
I always thought this song was about "your sister, the moon". You know: "she's the wave, she turns the tide"
- Rob, Santa Monica, CA
U2's a bona fide rock band, of course they make sexual references. The genius is in the double entendre... it's obviously both, either, or neither depending on how you approach it.
- Ace, Thousand Oaks, CA
Hey Liz from Lakeville, MN.
U2 have made a few oral sex references before.
'You can swallow or you can spit. You can throw it up or choke on it.'
-acrobat
- alvin, sioux center, IA
if this was referring to oral sex,why would bono say on your knees BOY? im goin w/ everybody else here,that has religous meaning behind it
- Ryan, Albion, NY
I have a techno remix of this song on a record. It's not about religion - it's about a woman that moves in mysterious ways. It's about following your gut and going for that crazy experience because it will lift up your days and light up your nights. "One day you will look...back
And you'll see...where
You were held...how
By this love...while
You could stand...there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling"

see?
- Charlotte, Seattle, WA
This song is about the Holy Spirit, who is said in the Bible of all places, to be one who "moves in mysterious ways".
- Beau, Phoenix, AZ
This song definately has a religious feel. She is/could be a reference to God. "If you want to kiss the sky, you better learn how to kneel - on your knees boy!" is about praying not about oral sex! C'mon! this is U2!!!
- Liz, Lakeville, MN
This is not a definite fact but i heard the 'if you wanna kiss the sky' lyrics were a tribute to jimi hendrix. In his song "purple haze" one of the lyrics are 'scuse me while i kiss the sky'. This is something someone told me. I don't know if there is any truth behind it. Just thought i would mention it
- John, Madison, WI
I was at the Sep. 1st 2001 Slane concert, they sung Mysterious Ways but its not on the DVD? Anybody know why? Also, Bono's daughter danced to it.
- marty, perth, Australia
I heard that this song actually has a religious feel, and that it was about the Holy Spirit or something.
- Taal, Brisbane, Australia
The line: "If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel - on your knees boy!" is NOT a reference to oral sex, it is about praying on your knees to God.
- Kelly, Washington, DC
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