"Seconds" as written by Bono and The Edge....
Takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh
It takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh, say bye bye
Where you going to now

Lightning flashes across the sky
East to west, do or die
Like a thief in the night
See the world by candlelight

Fall, rise and fall, rise and
Fall, rise and fall, rise and

In an apartment on Time Square
You can assemble them anywhere
Held to ransom, hell to pay
A revolution everyday
USSR, GDR, London, New York, Peking
It's the puppets, it's the puppets
Who pull the strings, yeh

Fall, rise and fall,
Fall, rise and fall,

Say goodbye, say goodbye
Say goodbye, say goodbye
Say goodbye

It takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh
Push the button and pull the plug
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh

Fall, rise and fall,
Fall, rise and fall,

And they're doing the atomic bomb
Do they know where the dance comes from
Yes they're doing the atomic bomb
They want you to sing along
Say goodbye, say goodbye
Say goodbye
Say goodbye


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira

"Seconds" as written by Dave Evans Adam Clayton

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Seconds song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentiheartlarry It's a sample from an old movie, but i can't remember which. I'll have a go at transcribing it. There's a man shouting a little kids repeating after him (in caps)

    "I wanna be an airborne ranger
    I WANNA BE AN AIRBORNE RANGER
    I wanna live a life of danger
    I WANNA LIVE A LIFE OF DANGER
    (drums kick in)
    Burn
    BURN
    Death
    DEATH
    Kill
    KILL
    KILL
    KILL"
    Kind of disturbing really.

    The song I think is about suitcase atomic bombs. Think Sum of All Fears, think the biggest nightmare of the US: terrorists get their hands on a nuke and can do whatever they like with it.

    I love the fact that this is one of the most cheerful sounding songs U2 have written, but when you listen to the lyrics its pretty chilling, especially since it was written before the concept of anyone other than a superpower possessing a nuke was really around.
    logggerfloodleson May 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song appears to be about warfare. There are numerous mentions of war-like things in the lyrics...'lightning flashes across the sky...', 'and they're doing the atomic bomb.' It would make sense since most songs on that album are about political subjects, and the actual name of the album is 'War'.
    It's a good song. I personally like it a lot.
    U2aholicon July 06, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti like this song too, kinda makes you think on how easy it is for us to end life anymore. for us, life can be turned on and off like a light switch, there's nothing holy about it anymore. it's a tool (politically and scientifically).
    irresistible7on August 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is actually a really under-rated U2 song in my opinion. It's a good song with an extremely catchy bass line!
    u2elevationon August 29, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's funny how a lot of people didn't even realize that the Edge sings a lot of this song. People were shocked when they would play it live and Edge would be singing. The two of them have similar pitches.
    skycaton March 23, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe first time i heard this I loved it! its a very very different style for them to play but this song is actually how i was introduced to Early U2. sure i knew sunday bloody sunday and New years day but those are such big hits (and great songs) i never got the feel of Early u2 from them but Seconds and some others really capture that early punk rock u2. I love it!
    bonovox_u2on March 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHas anyone heard the version from "Live at Red rocks".. a great performance, and yes, Edge sings lead. Think terroists when you listen to the lyrics...
    markeon July 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI speak Spanish..can anybody tell me the words that the strange voice shouts in the middle of the song? thanx
    iheartlarryon November 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe relationship between rock and the Cold War doesn't get any more intense than in this song. Somewhere between two eras where rock songs were mainly about love and erotic passion, it was possible to record a hit song about the end of the world. "Seconds" emphasizes the brevity, the triviality with which nuclear weapons could end human civilization, a contrast that is black comedy in "Doctor Strangelove" but here, it's just bleak.

    The hard drumbeat that is heard first has a military cadence, which is echoed later by the U.S. Army call-and-response drill song, "I wanna be an Airborne Ranger." That song was a year later also sung by John Bender as he ran through the halls in "The Breakfast Club." The drumbeat and the song within a song both seem toxically naive as the Western world eagerly militarized under Ronald Reagan on a path that risked the future of the human species.

    One line beginning with a string of initials calls out nations and cities key to the Cold War: the USSR, East Germany ("DDR" in German), and major cities in the UK, US, and China – four of these being nations with major nuclear arsenals and the fifth being the Warsaw Pact country astride the European border where the land battles of World War Three could begin.

    1983 was the year that "The Day After" terrified many Americans with a vision of nuclear devastation in America's heartland while virtually simultaneously a NATO military drill called Able Archer terrified Soviet leaders who thought that the drill might be used to mask a real surprise first strike of U.S. nuclear bombs upon the Soviet Union. A few months before those, "Seconds" called out the same threat; one must appreciate the intensity of 1983's war hysteria and U2 for calling it out urgently before those events later in the year and, for example, the film "Red Dawn" the next year. The Fixx's nuclear war anthem "Red Skies" was released in 1983 in the US, but had just been released in the UK before U2 began recording "War" and can be seen as a likely, if partial, inspiration for "Seconds."

    The urgency of this song's message is multiplied by the elements that surround it – the album name and the band's name also call out the Cold War, the song before it is about violence and bloodshed, and coming just a moment after the end of "Seconds," the feverish keyboards that begin the next song on the album, "New Year's Day" seem unmistakably like a continuation of "Seconds" and have to make the listener think that the button pushes and computerized sequences that launch missiles have begun. Songs later on "War" that are implicitly set in peacetime are nonetheless full of tension about international disorder and passions gone wrong. Then, in a peaceful release "40" ends the album with a religious meditation asking the listener who has had their fill of Cold War tensions to "sing a new song." The album is a taut and terrifying critique of war and "Seconds" is where that message is laid out early and fiercest. It's hard to listen to it decades later and not remember the corner that civilization had painted itself into and how important it is not to return to the nuclear game of Mutual Assured Destruction.
    rikdadon March 20, 2017   Link

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