What does Running to Stand Still mean?

U2: Running to Stand Still Meaning

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Album cover for Running to Stand Still album cover

Running to Stand Still Lyrics

And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was
Lying still
Said I gotta do something
About where we're going

Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night
Singing ha, ah la la la de day


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 31st 2005 !⃝

    The seven towers relate to the failed housing project called Ballymun in North Dublin. There were seven high rise buildings that became known for drugs and violence.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Nov 1st 2005 !⃝

    On the Joshua Tree tour, Bono dedicated this to his friend "Whose girlfriend gave him for his 21st birthday just enough heroine to kill himself - and he did." Title itself was inspired by Bono's brother who once described his then financial woes, trying to keep up with his bills, etc, as "running just in order to stand still."

  3. kooljohn176
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    May 19th 2016 !⃝

    A emotional song of escape and hope to change the sad circumstance she's in the present moment, while acknowledging the riches SHE[America] brought to the U2 Band at her expense. This song is set more in the Western Ideal Mind that always had that ''RESTLESS OUTGOING'' about herself. When She has been pushed to far to fast to find Her meaning in life where it is believed the grass is much greener on the other side or they're more beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the furthest places and deserts in America and around the world that keeps Her[us] running for love, money,fame,power,adventure, etc,. Chasing all these things, the saddest thing that can happen to Her is when She[America] has been used to go to far with Her, exploring and dreaming those dreams that She[America] wants to experience with us, unfortunatly She is hooked and addicted to too many dangerous drugs that keeps Her[America] running. Even though they make Her feel She is running and raging like the sea as a love need that brings out her stolen treasure[PEARLS] that She is accused to have stolen from the Holy ''C'' to bring to him[us]. This all can end in a sad reality if we let Her body and mind be addicted to Heroin, where She's ''RUNNING TO STAND STILL'' in the life of addictions that has been left neglected, in need to be saved, loved and respected again.

  4. anonymous
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    Jan 7th 2011 !⃝

    In the Rattle and Hum movie Bono raises the sleeve on his left arm as he sings "you know I took the poison from the poison stream and floated right out of here". Perhaps a symbolic reference to the injection of heroin.

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 16th 2008 !⃝

    Joshua Tree was a concept album based about America. U2 seemed to have the insight as to the great symbolism that America represented. The resources, the freedom and the indulgance tied to it's roots of God. Crooked Crosses say a lot about the old west and ties to God. Black belly of a cloud is what you see in western states before a storm. The lady was symbolic of the blight of indulgance that had taken over America. Her need to have her Heroin fix came at no cost. Gold, and pearls stolen from the sea (America's lack of ecological care) to trade in for just one more needle.

  6. anonymous
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    Jun 19th 2007 !⃝

    OK, some of you may think this is crazy, but the song has many meaning in my view. I can understand how there is a connection to drugs and feeling trapped in a vicious cycle of drug abuse. This song shows comparisons to social, political and religious confinements. During 9/11 "Stuck in a moment you can't get out of," was played during the initial shock in a media release. This underlying theme is in Running to stand still. About a woman struggling with her life, yes. But within a more global context, the song asks us to continue to question those institutional paradigms that shut down or abilities to think critically of how society at large attempts to steal away our identities. An identity is only fully actualized when we continue to question and challenge norms in our culture, and in so doing, we make decisions that work in balance with who we really are as individuals.

  7. anironjosh
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    Jun 14th 2007 !⃝

    There's actually a real drug addict in Dublin that this song was directed to. Bono said he got inspiration from seeing this woman that was known pretty much all over town. And so he wrote about her brokeness relating it back to her life and the drugs she used to hide pain...etc.

  8. anonymous
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    May 27th 2007 !⃝

    The song is about drug use...specifically in Dublin. The acoustic aspect of the song is beautiful. The vocal content of the song is real, difficult and depressing. This relationship between acoustic beauty and the song's vocals, mirrors that of the ecstasy of drug use but the brutally sad reality that comes with it. A song crafted with passion, empathy and heart - a masterpiece.

  9. anonymous
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    Feb 24th 2007 !⃝

    Definitely about drugs, but I think it's a rather universal term (running to stand still).

    It's applicable to the times in our life when you are facing such overwhelming circumstances and you feel like you can barely keep up... you are running to stand still.

    One of U2's most brilliant songs of the 80's!

  10. anonymous
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    Oct 3rd 2006 !⃝

    One very interesting reference in this song is "...I only see one way out; you gotta talk without speaking, cry without weeping, scream without raising your voice".

    That can be seen as a definition of singing, and in that light, it's an absolutely wonderful and amazing definition.

    As written, it's a song about herion in dublin, with a subtext concerning bono's own youth and life and choices--the only way he could see out of the dull suburban life that he and his teenage friends loathed was through success in rock and roll.

    But over the years, this song has been dedicated to many different people for many different reasons.

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 18th 2006 !⃝

    It is about drugs.... I've heard it dedicated to a few other people like the us military and anne san su chi (sp??) which has nothing to do with drugs... But there are so many drug references.
    The tower block thing is right, and the 'but I only see one way out' line is that the woman in the song sees the only way out as jumping off the top of one of the buildings to kill herself. Clever line :d
    the 'darkness in the night' I think has to do with being a prostitute (woman of the night) to pay for drugs.
    'sweet the sin, bitter the taste in my mouth' - taking drugs, fairly basic there.
    'poison from the poison stream... Floated out of here' hallucinating from drug use.
    The colours in the 3rd verse I think also emphasise the imagery of hallucination
    'eyes painted red' - bloodshot eyes
    'she will suffer the needle chill' injecting drugs

    hope you like it! Awesome song

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 6th 2006 !⃝

    When I saw u2 in dublin on the vertigo tour bono and edge did a fantastic version of this with just keyboard and vocals.

    Bono dedicated it to the life of mother theresa, and how gracefully she conducted herself despite all she was faced with.

    That plus the lyrics do back up some of the early theories about subtle change.

  13. siobhan77
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    Dec 14th 2005 !⃝

    When Bono dedicated this song to the troops abroad, he said that it was for all people that were in a situation that they really had no great extent of control over. It had nothing to do with drugs in the army. I think that in the song the girl/woman is in a situation where the most accesible "escape" (getting high again or suicide) is not in her best interests.

  14. laurenbeth
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    Oct 6th 2005 !⃝

    I have read multiple places that this song is about drugs... especially in Dublin.

  15. anonymous
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    Jul 26th 2005 !⃝

    It's been said ample times over the years that this song is about drug addiction in Dublin, in particular heroin. Like almost all U2 songs, there a few underlying themes.

    During U2's Vertigo 2005 tour, Bono has dedicated this song to "the brave men and women of the United States military" so.. does that mean that all of the soldiers from america are strung out on H? I doubt it. My view is that it's like these two groups of people -soldiers and drug addicts- have just one thing in common, they are living dangerously, they could die any day.. they're running to stand still..

  16. username
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    Jun 24th 2005 !⃝

    Running to Stand still in my opinion is one of U2's greatest songs. It's about a girl who takes a real good look at her life and decides it's time to change however this change cannot be a drastic one. It has to be graceful, wise. It can't make to many waves. This change has to be evolution not revolution. You have to let people know you're willing to stand up for something no matter what, but you can't be an anarchist. You have to remain subtle. Sets a very good example.

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