"Miss Sarajevo" Song Lyrics by U2 / Passengers

The only song from Original Soundtracks Vol 1 that can be truly described as a 'classic' U2 song, Miss Sarajevo was the song that served to promote the documentary of the same name

The song is a poignant reflection on the Bosnian War, particularly the Siege of Sarajevo. Released in 1995, during the height of the conflict, the song combines rock and operatic elements to create a powerful commentary on the war's impact on ordinary lives. The collaboration itself is symbolic, merging the contemporary sound of U2 with the classical mastery of Pavarotti, embodying a call for unity and understanding across different cultures and musical traditions. The song's title and theme were inspired by a beauty pageant held during the siege, an event that became a striking symbol of resistance and defiance against the backdrop of war. 

The lyrics of "Miss Sarajevo" are deeply evocative, portraying the stark contrast between the mundane aspects of daily life and the horrors of war. Bono's verses paint vivid pictures of ordinary activities – "Is there a time for keeping your distance, a time to turn your eyes away" – juxtaposed against the brutal reality of the conflict – "Is there a time for kohl and lipstick, a time for cutting hair." 

This juxtaposition highlights the resilience and determination of the citizens of Sarajevo, who strove to maintain a semblance of normalcy amidst chaos. 

The song's chorus, sung by Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti in Italian, adds a layer of universal appeal, transcending language barriers to convey a message of sorrow and hope. Pavarotti's powerful operatic voice lends a sense of gravitas and emotional depth to the song, emphasizing the tragedy of the war and the enduring spirit of those affected by it.

Miss Sarajevo lyrics from U2 - Passengers:

Is there a time for keeping your distance
A time to turn your eyes away
Is there a time for keeping your head down
For getting on with the day
Is there a time for kohl and lipstick
A time for cutting hair
Is there a time for high street shopping
To find the right dress to wear

Here she comes
Heads turn around
Here she comes
To take her crown

Is there a time to run for cover
A time for kiss and tell
Is there a time for different colours
Different names you find it hard to spell
Is there a time for first communion
A time for East 17
Is there a time to turn to Mecca
Is there a time to be a beauty queen

Here she comes
Beauty plays the clown
Here she comes
Surreal in her crown

Pavarotti's part in Italian:

Dici che il fiume trova la via al mare
E come il fiume giungerai a me
Oltre i confini e le terre assetate
Dici che come fiume
Come fiume l'amore giungera
L'amore e non so piu pregare
E nell'amore non so piu sperare
E quell'amore non so piu aspettare

Is there a time for tying ribbons
A time for Christmas trees
Is there a time for laying tables
And the night is set to freeze

English translation of the Italian lyrics Pavarotti sang:

You say that as a river finds its way to the sea
And as the river you'll find your way back to me
Beyond the borders and the thirsty lands
You say that as the river
As the river, you say that love will find a way
But love, I'm not a praying man
And in love I can't believe any more
And for love I can't wait any more

The inspiration for "Miss Sarajevo" came from an actual beauty pageant held in 1993 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. This event, with its tagline "Don't let them kill us," was a poignant act of defiance by the citizens, a declaration of life and beauty amidst destruction. The pageant, which included contestants holding a banner with the aforementioned slogan, was a stark reminder that amidst the horror of war, the human spirit and the desire for normalcy persist. 

This act of bravery and defiance in the face of adversity struck a chord with the members of U2 and Brian Eno, leading to the creation of the song. It was a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the people of Sarajevo and a commentary on the absurdity and tragedy of war.

"Miss Sarajevo" is more than just a song; it is a historical document and a poignant reminder of the Bosnian War's impact on civilians. The collaboration between rock musicians and an operatic legend serves as a metaphor for unity and the power of art to bridge divides. The song's blend of English and Italian lyrics, its haunting melody, and its evocative imagery combine to create a powerful message of resilience, hope, and the enduring human spirit. 

It stands as a testament to the role of artists in responding to and documenting historical events, and as a call to never forget the lessons of history. In the broader scope of U2's work, "Miss Sarajevo" continues to resonate as a poignant example of the band's commitment to addressing social and political issues through their music.

Check out lyrics to "One Minute Warning" and the totally creepy "Corpse (These Chains are Way too Long)" also from the Passengers album.

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