The song's lyrics describe Judas' betrayal of Jesus, depicted here in "The Judas Kiss" (1886) by Gustave Doré.
I got in the U2 loving game rather late. It wasn't until my college years that I started digging "Rattle and Hum" and "Joshua Tree". I say late as I remember collecting Duran Duran and Prince vinyl in middle and high school while my alternative buddies were gathering at Malcolm's house spinning :"Boy" and "Under a Blood Red Sky." So thank God I got into them at that age as I simply wasn't smart enough as a new wave dweeb to understand their music complexities and deep lyrical content. So when Achtung Baby came out in 1992 I was hooked.
The album featured mega hits "One," "Mysterious Ways," and "Wild Horses." Other giant songs included "Loved is Blindness," which was rudly covered by Jack Black a few years back. But it was that song after "One," that was so strange, so different then the rest of the album. "Until the End of the World," begins with an dreadful guitar wailing over and over, begging for mercy, wow remember what I just said ok? Congas and a deep bass line followed then a sharp hip hop drum beat, all flushing out when Bono beings to sing.
Haven't seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
You were talking about the end of the world
And Bono wasn't so much singing as he was talking, telling a drunken story over drinks in a dark dirty bar, reminiscing. Simple yet powerful recollections that finish with rants of the impending apocalypse. This was Judas and Jesus at the last supper, the last betrayal and beginning of Christ's demise. Bono goes on...
I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You were acting like it was the end of the world
Here the treachery continues and the collapse of loyalty, love and friendship culminate in the garden of Gethsemane, Which of us has experienced a lie while being kissed? Been told a fantasy while being pick pocketed? Have anyone of you reading this now ever been the liar, the bullshiter? Were you the con man, saying and doing anything to get by? To get thiers? To survive and hope that some form of love comes to save you? I know I have. Bono answers back boldly.
Love, love, love...
In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you'd wait
'Til the end of the world.
As argued, Judas grief stricken and shamed out of society took his life over the death of his dear friend. The ultimate betrayal. Haven't we at some point in our lives wanted to rid ourselves of ourselves? We wanted to leave town, forget old relationships that we may have burned. We wanted to start all over. But what if you couldn't? What if that grief, depression and sorrow completely engulfed you. All that regret made you, sacrifice you.Yes it's documented that Bono did that in fact write this song as a fictional story of Judas and Jesus, but his storytelling transcends the Biblical into the modern for everyone to connect, relate and ultimately create catharsis in us all. It hails to me as one of Bono's most poetically painful songs ever sung.
I'm a born again follower of Christ. I have been since Nov. of 2012. I say this only to give you background of my sincere appreciation for this work of art. I have often walked down that clear road, singing Bono's last prophetic words, "Love, love, love..." Sure, Jesus didn't create love, but he gave it back to Judas after he took his own life. The non believer can rejoice in this human story of redemption. See you all down the road.