U2's 50 Greatest Songs

A definitive guide to 35 years of music that changed the world

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37. "Drowning Man"

"It was the title of a Sam Beckett–style play I'd started about a drowning man," Bono said about this handsome, haunting piece. But in gestures the absurdist Irish writer might've appreciated, there's no mention of a drowning man anywhere in the lyrics, which conflate romantic and spiritual love, and crib lines from the Bible (Isaiah: 40, to be precise). Etched with the Edge's acoustic-guitar strokes and capped with a Middle Eastern–flavored violin flourish, the dazzling music points toward the ambitious tapestries of The Joshua Tree; the Edge described the final version as "perfection. It's one of the most successful pieces of recording we've ever done."

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