Until The End Of The World is getting back into religion, it’s perhaps the most religious song U2 has even done. Apart from 40, which was pretty much lifted directly from the Bible, I can’t think of a song that contains more religion. It is essentially a conversation between Judas and Jesus (or maybe it’s better said from Judas to Jesus), told from Judas’ perspective, after the betrayal and everything has gone down. He’s been somewhere, probably hell (“I was down the hold, just passing time”), and now they’re talking about it. I like that he’s saying “well, you were just a downer, talking about the end of the world, and I was tired of it.” Then it goes on to the end, where Judas is saying “oops, I kind of screwed up, can you forgive me?” and Jesus says “wait until the end of the world”, which amuses me because Jesus is supposed to forgive anything.
Now, if you ignore the religious aspect, you could also make this a love song, or the story of a couple. The obvious “we were as close together as a bride and groom,” meaning they were sleeping together. But one of the couple keeps talking about the end of the world, or being sad or depressed, which might be why they broke up. “I was playing the tart, I kissed your lips and broke your heart,” being talk about them separating. And “I reached out for the one I tried to destroy,” the storyteller broke up with the other person but now wants them back again.
This is interesting to me, the way you can get two completely different stories depending on your perspective. Like I’ve mentioned before, with Exit, that you could know or think of one meaning for the longest time, and then all of a sudden you see or read something and it’s like a lightbulb going on, telling you a completely different story. I don’t think that invalidates the first idea. I think it actually enhances the music creator’s reputation, like when you read something like Shakespeare and it turns out instead of talking about the king of Denmark he’s actually talking about the price of cheese in Venice. Or something like that.
I’ve said before how I like the way Bono sings either slightly different words in live versions, or sings the words in a slightly different way. In this case it’s how he sings “You miss too much these days if you stop to think”, specifically the “stop to think” part, where he makes it almost sound like he’s singing “Stop. To. Think.” as three different sentences. Really sounds good that way.
I love this song, it is as noted above lyrically interesting, and it has great music behind the lyrics too. From the squealing at the start, to the tom-tom bass, to the beat and the lead guitar following in, it all sounds perfect together. I love the lead guitar throughout, this is a song I have never tried to play (too fast for me), but one I’d really like to learn. Towards the end (as the lyrics end) the guitar starts driving the song on and on, faster and faster, and it really sound fantastic. It’s a song that makes you jump, over and over.
My rating for Until The End Of The Word: 8 / 10