Unknown Caller
by U2

Album: No Line on the Horizon (2009)
  • Sunshine, sunshine
    Sunshine, sunshine
    Oh, oh
    Oh, oh

    I was lost between the midnight and the dawning
    In a place of no consequence or company
    Three-thirty-three when the numbers fell off the clock face
    Speed dialing with no signal at all
    Go, shout it out, rise up
    Oh, oh

    Escape yourself, and gravity
    Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
    Shush now
    Oh, oh

    Force quit and move to trash
    I was right there at the top of the bottom
    On the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be
    I had driven to the scene of the accident
    And I sat there waiting for me
    Restart and re-boot yourself
    You're free to go
    Oh, oh

    Shout for joy if you get the chance
    Password, you enter here, right now
    Oh, oh

    You know your name so punch it in
    Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
    Shush now
    Oh, oh

    Don't move or say a thing Writer/s: ADAM CLAYTON, DAVE EVANS, PAUL DAVID HEWSON, LARRY MULLEN, DANIEL ROLAND LANOIS, BRIAN ENO, BRIAN PETER GEORGE ENO
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group, Royalty Network
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 7

  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjJ -- amazing interpretation. I: have a newfound interpretation and understanding of this song after reading your analysis. Beautifully interpreted and explained.
  • Banana from Canberra, AustraliaJ I really like your explanation and I would like to use it in a devotion if you don't mind.
    Thanks!
  • Davíd from Woburn, MaHey J... why don't you let us have our own ideas? Just kidding, that was well done. You ever considered getting a job at Soundfacts? This is easily my favorite song on the album. The story of this song is great. Frankly, the chanting of God's instructions make them all the more potent and drive home the narrator's destructive nature; he/she needs to be shouted at. In a sense, this kind of reminds me of "Bad" in the sense that there is an addict receiving help from someone. Well done U2, well done indeed.
  • Danleichty from Rochester, MnThis is definatly about a phone call from God. This song is very inspirational.
  • Eric from Springfield, MaJ, Nice job. After the 40th or so time through the album, the first notes of the album are 7 tones (3 of one then 4 of another) repeated several times . . . much like a dialing a phone. I realize phone numbers are different in Ireland, but I feel it isn't a coincidence (speed dialing with no signal at all).
  • Lisa from Perry, GaWow J, VERY astute! I find this whole CD WILDLY dense in all it conveys! Each listen reveals just how laden with meaning each song is and even each individual line and word. U2 remain wonderfully fearless in the rock and roll spotlight which they continue to refocus on the Truth and on God! I give this album and the band my resounding and joyful "YES"!!
  • J from Salt Lake City, UtMy interpretation of the song:

    The song is nonlinear. It is looking back at an event with narration spliced through the event. It's easier to understand by regrouping the lyrics. Everything Bono sings solo is the main character of the song narrating or recalling his state previous to the event. The Bono/Edge harmony is the character of God. God's words are nonlinear also. The character is retelling them in a different order.

    The soft opening, bird sounds, and Sunshine, Sunshine is the present time. The character wakes with new meaning seeing the Light (Light of Christ, John 8:12) in a new way.

    Bono solo/recalling the character's situation.

    I was lost (these three words give all the meaning. He was lost. Isaiah 53:6) between the midnight and the dawning
    In a place of no consequence or company
    3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock face (the call from God comes at 3:33 Jeremiah 33:3)
    Speed dialing with no signal at all

    I was right there at the top of the bottom (he was stuck in the middle of nowhere)
    On the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be (he didn't exactly realize he was lost or stuck, he thought he was where he wanted to be)
    I had driven to the scene of the accident
    And I sat there waiting for me (his life was out of control and he was about to crash)

    Words of God:

    (first grouped by the technical metaphor, then the rest)


    Force quit (This Macintosh metaphor is a poetic masterpiece. Force quit in Mac language is the method to quit a program that is out of control and can't be stopped the normal way. It needs a different kind of intervention. God is doing a force quit on this guy's life.) and move to trash (Mac language for delete. God is deleting the man's life. Isaiah 1:18)
    Restart and re-boot yourself (John 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17)
    Password, you enter here, right now
    You know your name so punch it in

    Go, shout it out, rise up
    Escape yourself, and gravity
    Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak, Shush now (You've been so busy doing your own things to hear me before. Stop and listen.)
    You're free to go
    Shout for joy if you get the chance (Psalm 40:3. This is a U2 theme. They have been shouting the joy of God and redemption throughout their time in the spotlight. Gloria, 40, October, WTSHNN Elevation tour version, Yahweh.)
    Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
    Shush now
    Don't move or say a thing (Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.)

    The last part of the song is the best. My interpretation is that the message we hear in the lyrics of the song is "be quiet so I can teach you" and the generic message "leave your old life and start a new life in me", but there is much more after the lyrics end. After God speaks the final words of "Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak, Shush now, don't move or say a thing", the song goes right into non-lyrical music as if it is a continuation of the lyrics. I believe U2 is using music as a way to imply spiritual communication (Ephesians 5:19, see U2's interpretation of the Holy Ghost in The First Time "She got soul, soul, soul, sweet soul. And she teach me how to sing").

    The music starts out with beautiful organ/cathedral style music and then moves into an amazing Edge guitar solo, as if the meaning and feeling God is speaking is too beautiful to put into words and instead is portrayed by music over the final minute and half of the song.


    addendum: after discovering the final 1:30 of the song including Edge's guitar solo is taken from the hymn "My Savior's Love".

    This adds even more meaning to the song. This implies an alternate interpretation for the final 1:30. This could be cutting back to the present retelling of the account and is the character's answer and expression of God's admonition: "Shout for joy if you get the chance."


    The words of that hymn:

    I stand amazed in the presence
    Of Jesus the Nazarene,
    And wonder how He could love me,
    A sinner, condemned, unclean.

    Refrain
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    And my song shall ever be:
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    Is my Savior's love for me!

    For me it was in the garden
    He prayed: "Not My will, but Thine."
    He had no tears for His own griefs,
    But sweat drops of blood for mine.

    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    And my song shall ever be:
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    Is my Savior's love for me!

    In pity angels beheld Him,
    And came from the world of light
    To comfort Him in the sorrows
    He bore for my soul that night.

    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    And my song shall ever be:
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    Is my Savior's love for me!

    He took my sins and my sorrows,
    He made them His very own;
    He bore the burden to Calvary,
    And suffered and died alone.

    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    And my song shall ever be:
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    Is my Savior's love for me!

    When with the ransomed in glory
    His face I at last shall see,
    'Twill be my joy through the ages
    To sing of His love for me.

    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    And my song shall ever be:
    O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
    Is my Savior's love for me!





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