Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Shot Rang Out in the Memphis Sky

Switching on the car radio while running an errand, I happened to hear Pride in the Name of Love, U-2's stirring song about Martin Luther King Jr.

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride


When Bono sang these lines, it reminded me of a conversation I'd had with Chris Hunt, a Minneapolis attorney with whom I serve on the Twin Cities area alumni/ae council for Valparaiso University School of Law Twin. Last spring, Chris happened to mention to me that he and his family had been in Memphis on a spring break trip at the time of MLK's assassination.

With the attention to detail you'd expect of a successful lawyer, Chris commented that the U-2 song contains a clear factual error. The shots did not ring out early in the morning, as Bono's song suggests, but at 6:01 p.m.

Why Bono's song contains this obvious factual error, I do not know. He could have written "not yet twilight, April 4," but he didn't.

Still, the song's power remains undeniable, a generation after it was written. Listen:

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