First of all, did any of you watch the Inaugural Celebration?
I’m assuming none of you did. I did. Because U2 was scheduled to play. And I’m an uber-fan.
Well, I wouldn’t have known that I could watch the event (since it was on HBO) if it weren’t for my newly converted U2 fan, Michael, who informed me that HBO had become available just for the Celebration. I’ve realized now that I’ve created a monster in Michael the New U2 Fan, but, oh well. Everyone should love U2. They are an amazing band; Bono is an inspiring lyricist, The Edge’s guitar stylings are like no other. If you can’t intuit their musical genius, you just are ignorant. (What else would you expect me to say? They are my favorite band ever!)
That said, I’d like to say that I had a little bit of a wake-up-and-smell-2009 moment when I looked at this picture before watching the Inaugural event.
Then, as I looked closer, it hit me: That old guy behind Bono is Adam Clayton.
Oh, my beloved, Adam, what have the years done to you? First, in the early 80s, you sported a fro that most turned me off. However, around Joshua Tree, someone introduced you to a buzz cut, and then you started wearing those wire-rimmed glasses, and I was hooked because, you see, I lust after men in glasses… it reminds of brainy geeks, like myself… and Adam ceased smiling in pictures around Joshua Tree time, which made him look ever-so stern, as if to make a statement that his music is serious, dammit. And I loved him for it so. Oh, I know he’s not a magic bassist, not nearly as talented as The Edge is with his own guitar, but still, Adam was a part of U2 and he was hot and his level of skill did not matter.
Aye, me, but now he looks like my father. Or a friend of my father’s. An, alas, I just can’t get over all the gray. He no longer looks like that cool, serious rock star anymore. He just looks like someone who would come to pick up his daughter from the summer camp I worked at. *sigh* An era has ended.
On the other hand, Larry Mullen Jr. still looks 20 years younger than the rest of the band–he’s finally graduated to looking like he’s in his mid-thirties now. His look might finally do it for me. And I like short men. He started the band, after all, so maybe I want to hook into his genius.
Funny, also, I never used to find The Edge attractive, but now I’m starting to. I’ve always idolized Bono for his lyric genius and humanitarianism. Not so sure I’ve ever found him attractive as the type I’d like to date. I think my relationship with him will always be on the level of stunned awe. However, I can’t forget that when some people from my church and I were sitting around at a winery, and the topic of David Crosby’s sperm donation to Melissa Etheridge for her child came up in conversation, and I was asked who I would pick as a sperm donor for my own child, should I ever desire such a thing, I did reply “Bono” very quickly. To which many of my fellow congregants nodded with enthusiastic agreement. I can’t think of a better biological baby-daddy than Bono.
(And, yes, I did not miss the fact that that was a very weird conversation to be having with members of my church. No conversation is off-limits with us UUs!)
Anyway, the performance of “Pride” and “City of Blinding Lights” was very good. I was slightly worried that Bono would miss the high notes of “Pride”–being that he’s getting on in the years, as much as I’d prefer to remember him singing away at Red Rocks in 1983, even though I was never really at that performance in 1983, but enjoy it heartily on my new DVD re-release of the performance. He did a great job hitting the notes, and he ad-libbed all sorts of wonderful statements praising America (I guess he was on the love side of his love-hate relationship with us today). It was inspiring. I started to get goosebumps and sway, like I do every time I watch the aforementioned 1983 Red Rocks footage and like I did when I saw the band from the second row at Gund Arena (nka Quicken Loans Arena) on their Elevation Tour in 2001.
Look, you, folks. Many of you may think its very cliche for me to like such a popular band as U2. But, damn, it’s like my love of Shakespeare as an English major. The reason some people become great is because they are, indeed, great. And U2 shaped my growing years. Yes, they did, because I know some scrooge is going to comment that I’m too young to love U2 since they became popular when I was under 10, and they are therefore the voice of the generation ahead of me, and that my mom wouldn’t let me watch videos on MTV that young. But, fie, I say to you naysayers, fie! I grew up to U2 music.
“Pride” was frequently on the radio in my elementary school years. It reminds me, actually, of a spring day that I had off school and I went to work with my dad. I can’t hear the song without thinking of the Cordova in Lakewood, which he used to own and manage, and of the dry cleaners in the shop below where a little girl my age also hung out. We played in the backroom of that place while my dad fixed people’s broken stuff upstairs, grouchily claiming that he was a “Tenant Buster.” (Ghostbusters had come out around the same time, methinks.)
In high school, I bought Actung Baby and listened to it every day in my walkman. I remember taking the Brunswick bus to work at McDonald’s a day or two after I got the tape (yeah, I didn’t own a CD player yet), listening to it and really connecting. It was after this release that I went back and bought October and War. I was then a member of the Columbia Record Club. Good times, good times.
Zooropa came out in 1993, the year I graduated high school, and I borrowed the tape from one of my younger cousins. I listened to it all the way up to Kenosha, Wisconson for the big H family reunion that I attended that year. Those songs still fill me with that feeling of excitement in my unknown future–college looming ahead and a boyfriend that I thought I would marry (but didn’t). The song “Dirty Day”–though about Bono’s turbulent relationship with his father–always captures the spirit of that time with its repeated ending lyric, “These days run away like horses over the hill.” I can’t hear that song without thinking of that bridge between high school and college when the world seems to have suddenly blossomed with endless possibility and yet, at the same time, you feel a loss over the community you leave behind. Even though, like me, it was not by far the best of times, it was the only home I knew up to then and I was leaving the miserable comfort of it.
I bought Unforgettable Fire to complete my collection somewhere in 1999. I used to listen to this CD while traveling between Stow and Ironton when I worked for the computer company that created software for county and state courts. I set up and trained Lawrence County’s juvenile and probate court and my routine was to drive out Sunday night and return Friday. It was a long, taxing assignment in what was basically a little backward part of Ohio (read: hadn’t left 1950 yet) but I made it through to the soothing sounds of “A Sort of Homecoming” as I drove myself back and forth across the empty rolling hills of southern Ohio. That song–and the entire CD–continues to inspire me to long road trips. All the songs remind me of driving in the car in the fall with the red sun setting on lonely golden fields. It was one of the many CDs that was stolen with my car in Colorado; I still haven’t replaced it, though I’ve downloaded the mp3s for most of the songs so that I can play them on my computer.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind came out in the worst year of my life–2001–but yet it touched my soul in a time of time of deep need. Bono, with his continual lyrical genius, most intensely spoke to me with the song “Walk On” which contains the words of the release’s title. I interpreted this song as the metaphorical journey of grief I was forced to take at that moment and Bono’s voice urged me to hold on to life, inspired me to strength:
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
The song has a strong upbeat rhythm and it was exactly the kind of thing I needed to listen to in the depths of my depression. I am sure the song has nothing to do with grieving, but as an English major, I reserve my right to claim that art is in the mind of the audience. I have always found strength in “Walk On.” It also distantly reminds me of the pain I felt at that period of my life.
Of course, I love How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It was a refreshing return to an old school sound. I especially relate to “Miracle Drug” which seems to speak of spiritual love. I’ve identified with these lyrics the most:
Of science and the human heart
There is no limit
There is no failure here sweetheart
Just when you quit…
And the guitar riff in the middle of the song pushes those goosebumps to the surface as I feel the peace of floating on my back in a swimming pool–that tickling, prickly feeling that surrounds my flesh. You ever get that feeling like the music you’re listening to is just filling you? Music is a transcendental experience to me. No exaggeration.
I guess I’m as flaky as the next artist.
I am soooo looking forward to their next release which, by the way, is called No Line on the Horizon and–best news yet–it’s coming out March 3rd. Right before my birthday! But no one will be able to buy it for me because I will undoubtedly rush to the music store first thing in the morning on the 3rd as I did when How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out. I’m that much of an uber-fan.
Word is, the new album is a little more experimental, which is good. You want your favorite band to grow, not become stagnant. On the other hand, you don’t want them to grow into a shrilling cacophony of meaningless noise (remember Pop? we all thought that was the end). I’ve got hope, though–Brian Eno produced it. U2 has collaborated well with Eno in the past. I’m hopeful. I don’t want to live to see their downfall.
If they tour, I might shell out the absorbent cash for a ticket. Again, you never know when a band’s last tour will be, so you want to make sure you’re in on the final act. Which I hope is not the case with U2. But I realize that at some point they are going to have to exit stage left gracefully. And then I will have to find another musical muse to paint the theme to my life. I don’t want to become like one of those old Beatles hippies who have refused blatantly to grow behind their first rock-n-roll love. I give most new music a listen and I definitely do not think music greatness has died, like our friendly old Beatles hippies often claim. I just haven’t found anyone who quite does it for me the way U2 does. The Church comes close, but again, we’re talking another band whose height of popularity was in the 1980s. God. I am stuck some generations back.
Well, anyway, to end my long-winded praise of U2, which was really meant to be about their two-song appearance at the Inaugural Celebration, I conclude that their performance rekindled the excitement in seeing them live. It also reminded me how much I idolize this band, which is something I don’t like to see in myself, for, as my dad always says, “their shit stinks like everyone else’s.” But, you know, I’m easily swooned by great music paired with inspiring lyrics.
By the way, Bruce Springsteen also played at the Inaugaral Celebration. And that old hag, Sheryl Crowe. But U2 played right before Barack Obama spoke. You tell me who had the best slot of the musicians, hmmmm?!
I also meant to blog about my adventures in Columbus… I didn’t know I was going to spend so long on this U2 tirade… Ah well… Next time!