Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For? C.S. Lewis, Bono and the Argument from Desire

This was written by my friend Ted Wright at Cross Examined

For better or worse I was a child of the 80’s, and during that time a new rock band came on the scene that changed pop music, both in Britain, America and eventually the world. I immediately loved their sound as soon as I heard it. Their style was unique, and the lyrics had a real message. Their songs resonated much deeper than the typical pop tunes being played on the radio. That band was U2 from Dublin Ireland.

In May of 1987 the band released their 5th studio album titled “The Joshua Tree.” The second track on that album is a “gospel-esque” song that producer Danny Lanois encouraged Bono to write.[1] The song is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The song has been acclaimed by many critics and publications as one of the greatest songs of all time.[2]

What makes this song so unique and timeless? Sure it’s Bono’s excellent vocals, Adam Clayton’s chilled-out bass, and the Edge’s astral guitar licks, but I believe that it is also something more, something much deeper. The song touches on a truth that is embedded in all people – a deep sense of longing and desire for something that this present world cannot fully satisfy. Here is the second refrain.

 

I have kissed honey lips

Felt the healing in her finger tips

It burned like fire

(I was) burning inside her.

 

I have spoke with the tongue of angels

I have held the hand of a devil

It was warm in the night

I was cold as a stone.

 

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for.

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for.

 

The song is written in the style of a gospel-lament which has it roots in the Psalms, the Lamentations of Jeremiah and later, African-American Spirituals. So, what is the singer lamenting?

He is lamenting that no matter what he tries or what he does, ultimate satisfaction isn’t found in this world. His satisfaction must come from somewhere else. He was made for something else, for somewhere else, or perhaps for someone else. He is a pilgrim and a sojourner on this earth, “just a passing through.”

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