See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait, without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I'm waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she's got me with
Nothing left to win
And nothing else to lose

With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you



Lyrics submitted by Novartza, edited by iLexy3, diskiller

"With or Without You" as written by Dave Evans Adam Clayton

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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With or Without You song meanings
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259 Comments

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  • +6
    General Comment:This song is one of the most meaningful songs i've ever listened to. The message is fairly simple, but the way that he expresses himself throughout the song is so real, and so full of emotion that you can't help being drawn into the song. Maybe its just because i have been in exactly the same situation myself and i can empathise with the lyrics, but the hopelessness of his situation is depicted with the great contradictions. You give it all, but i want more. Nothing to win, nothing left to lose. The basic problem is that being with her is too hard to bear because he wants her so much, and being away from her is too much for the same reason. On a bed of nails she makes me wait. You give it all but i want more. He is showing his mixed feelings. He is angry that she is letting him stay in this situation, yet he knows that she is doing all she can. Hrmmm...i've gone on for a bit haven't i...it's just that this song is the story of my life, so i kinda could talk about it for a while...but i guess i'll just leave it here...
    Arch Angel Azraelon March 05, 2002   Link
  • +4
    My Interpretation:
    This song is about a man who's torn between his predictable love for a woman who promises to always be by his side , the "good woman" (wife or girlfriend) and his fatal attraction for the other woman "the dark lady" who he can't have. She is unavailable (married or in a relationship) which makes his love for her all the more unpredictable and unattainable. She also seems to be unhappy in her current situation.

    I think this song is an ode to the "dark lady" even though most comments seem to interpret it from the point of view of the "good woman".

    "Stone set in your eyes": Her eyes are lifeless due to her unhappy situation.
    "Thorn twist in your side": She is stuck and unable to make a move. If she does, the consequences can be irreparable.

    The man feels that he has to ultimately choose between the two women.
    "Sleight of hand and twist of fate": things happen very quickly and unpredictably just like a card trick. It also alludes to deception towards one or both women.

    "On a bed of nails she makes me wait": she keeps him forever on hold, unable to decide on what to do and the waiting is killing him slowly.

    "Through the storm we reach the shore. You give it all but I want more": He and the "dark lady" attempt to make it work and they almost succeed at it but he realizes that he wants all of her which she can't give him.

    "And you give yourself away": The "dark lady" is wasting away in her current relationship.

    "My hands are tied, My body bruised, she's got me with Nothing to win and Nothing left to lose": The man is also suffering from the fact that his "dark lady" is not making a decision as to whether she will leave her current situation to be with him or not. He has nothing to win because he knows that he will never have her and nothing left to lose because he knows that she's the one he really wants to be with.

    "I can't live With or without you": He can't live with her because of the circumstances thrust upon them and he can't live without her because she's the one he needs and wants to be with.




    mystifiedon February 14, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:I am so passionate about what I think this means so me. The chorus especially... I'll admit this may not apply to the verses, but anyway.. I am always reminded of a scripture passage in Mark 8:

    "And [Jesus] called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?'"

    I interpret the chorus in reference with these verses. It's like Bono knows he can't live the life Jesus calls him to when he's living in the world. And Bono can't live his fleshly, sin-desiring life with God.
    *So Bono can't live (fleshly) WITH Jesus (" with you"), and he can't live (for eternity, abundantly, and with hope) WITHOUT Jesus.
    kd180on April 17, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:I really like the many interpretations this brilliant song has.

    To me it is about human imperfection (vs devine perfection). No matter how much you love another person (or cause, drug, god or whatever your desire is), it cannot fullfil you, you will always need more. No matter how much you give to other people, there is never enough, and you expose yourself while doing it. And it's painful and tiresome and sometimes leaves you battered and empty, when you try to live up to the devine perfection. Sometimes it feels like it's just circumstances that prevents us from being perfect, and you can't even give up hope that you one day will get there.
    TBA66on February 04, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:Well I came across this song cuz I happened to be the girl he played it to. In a way I wanted to share my side. Tis song so applies to "us". In our case I am in a relationship I can't simply get out (so I give myself away, but not to him) I can feel the pain he is suffering seeing me "give myself away" and all I can give him is my heart at the moment but he wants more. However he also saw the "stone in my eyes" and "thorns" meaning he knows the situation I'm in and my pains. So he's not the only one whose hurting. We've gone through some serious "storms" and hopefully now reached the "shore". Wait with or without me - I think he has decided to wait whether he gets me eventually soon or not in a long while, cuz there's nothing else he wants to do. He can't live with me (yet...) but he can't without me. Well in our situation for me...I've come to realize that I can't live with or without him too. Probably that is all the more reason he wants to wait or I make him wait.(either way) God is the picture in our case. So we can only look to Him in our unique situation...and we want to do the right thing.
    Hope42012on April 26, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My Opinion:To me this song is about someone waiting for the person they love, to love them back, though I could see how it is about God too, but to me, this is more about love.

    Anyways, this describes the current issue I'm in right now, the person I love is in a relationship right now, we still talk, I've tried to see if they like me back, but I don't have an answer-yet, though I get the feeling she sort of likes me, but just isn't open to show it.
    The more I stay here, the more in love with her I am, and when I'm away from her, she's constantly on my mind, I can't live, with, or without her.

    I hope I get an answer soon, but I'll wait as long as I have to, until I can't wait any longer.
    iliketointerpret1on March 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Hmm. I would like to posit a more sinister meaning. This a man trapped between two loves; the "good woman," to whom he addresses the song, and the "dark lady" (freely stolen from Shakespeare's sonnets) who keeps him hanging, no doubt laughing all the while. One person who loves him and who he loves, the other he also loves but is merely using him.
    ButtOfMalmseyon May 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:this is THE greatest song ever written, in my humble opinion. if i would've written this song, i'd never write another song again. and what amazes me about it is that after this song, bono continues to write amazing songs (walk on, starin at the sun.....) and i hate him for having more of that gift than everybody else in this world. Goddamn you bono! and the music makes it just asskicking. they put the right music to set the mood for this song and ugh... words can't explain how this song makes me feel. GODDAMN BONO!!!
    if you see kayon May 22, 2002   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation:You know why I consider this song perhaps the greatest song ever concieved. The lyrics is universal, everyone could relate to it. Bono doesnt describe about specific people or events, its quite generalized. It deals with the struggles of contradictions. And life is full of contradictions. Everyone in a certain degree feels an inner turmoil within themselves. At times you cant live with or without you, that could be yourself or some other entity or perhaps just a generalized feeling. Its sheer genius how Bono interwined all the facets of just pure human understanding. And also you could interpet it in so many ways. Religiously, introspectively, spiritually, romantically, scientifically. Even though the words seem so simplistic at face value, when you look deeper, the words become more complexed, the meaning becomes intensified and the truth of it manifests.
    SatiricalTruthon March 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I do not disagree with some of the interpretations that i have have just read. However, for my own reasons, i like to come at this song (mainly the chorus) from a different angle. I sing these lines "with or without you" in worship to my God. As some of you may understand, the christian relationship with God is a paradox. I can't live with him because of my sin, wickedness, and evil nature, but i simply cannot live (life as the new testament describes it) with out him because "he who does not have the son does not have life" I am not trying to press my beliefs. I only want to share something about this song that i think is cool.
    jwjonesieon April 10, 2009   Link

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