"I wrote the lyric based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. It’s a story of intellectual wanderlust. The preacher wants to find out the meaning of life and so he tries a bit of everything. He tries knowledge, educates himself, reads every book, but that doesn’t do it. He tries travel, sees every sight, but that doesn’t do it. He tries win, woman and song, that doesn’t do it. All he says, is vanity, vanity of vanities, striving after wind."
- Bono on The Wanderer
did you know
The Picture of Dorian Grey mentioned in the song 'The Ocean' is a novel by Oscar Wilde, the Irish author who has been a huge influence on Bono's lyrics. In referring to it, Bono mocks his own vanity in thinking a rock star can change the world.