This article was first published on CLUAS in Jan 2002
A Few Thoughts on Discovering U2
A life-long Beatles fan reflects on a recent musical discovery...
OK, I admit it. I grew up with the Beatles. They were my boys. I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl. There was nobody better. Years later, I keep hearing about this band called U2. I at least know they are from Ireland. My roots are in Ireland. What's up with this? A friend of the family arrives from Dublin to go to the U2 concert in San Diego. He has no ticket, but takes my brother along, who is also a U2 nut. I think "What, are they crazy? They don't have tickets!" They not only get in but end up at an after concert party. As I recall, my brother gets home the next day, the friend shows up a couple days later. The assumption is that they had a good time.
Still, more years later, I am surfing the TV when I come across VH1 where they announce that the Boston concert of U2's 'Elevation' tour is about to start in 15 minutes. I call my brother and tell him his group is going to be on. I decide to watch out of curiosity. Two hours later I am completely blown away. I think, "Where have these guys been hiding?" I tell my brother I really like them so next thing I know he has made me a CD of ATYCLB. I listen and listen and listen. I can't get enough. I ask my brother why he never told me about this music - he tells me he was afraid I would not like it and THAT would be more than he could bear. I email the friend in Dublin and tell him what happened. He emails back that he knew I would come around eventually. I didn't get it before. I do get it now.
I went out and bought Joshua Tree, The Best of 1980-1990, the Unforgettable Fire Video, the list goes on. I watch the ZOOTV concert in Sydney and don't really like it. It seems like an assault on the senses. My brother encourages me to watch and listen again. So I do. Again and again and again. I love it. I watch the Rattle and Hum video-I love all the music immediately. I love the idea of exploring the roots of a country which is what they did. I don't understand the negative press about that video. I also don't care. It's my favourite. One day "God Part 2" is my favourite song, another day it's "Mysterious Ways" or "Stay" or "One". I put on the video of "The Unforgettable Fire" , watching Bono singing by himself in the ballroom of Slane Castle. He is very young, but his voice soars, caressing the words, living the moment, and takes you to another place.
My brother copied all of his CDs for me so now I have them all. I take them to work and listen on my headphones as I bang away on my computer, thumping my foot and rocking back and forth with the beat. People look at me like I am in some sort of trance, or on drugs. What is she listening to? They are in my car, in my home, in my sleep. I wake up with Bono singing in my thoughts. You have to understand, it was always the Beatles for me. It was George, he was the man, and Lennon. But, maybe now that I am older, as I was only a child during the Hollywood Bowl gig, the soul of a melody, the relevance of a lyric, the places that this music takes me to, is so much more than what the Beatles did for me. Maybe I was too young then. Maybe I am too old now. But I listen to the lyrics and go places I have not been in a long time. The song "Love Rescue Me" took me back years, to a painful time. It's not a typical rock song - more country than anything else. But it touched me down to my core. It was like having an epiphany.
What was this? These songs are too thought provoking. Be careful, some of his thoughts are your own. His loves, his desires, his pain, his confusion are all your own. Be careful, you may find answers to questions, answers that stir up some of the dark recesses of your own mind. This guy is talking about God, about love of your children, the love of your life, about hope and despair, war and peace, friendship and dying. Why is he doing that? It's who he is. He can't help himself. He has no choice. He's a singer, a songwriter, a poet, a father. He is in our faces, asking us to make a difference in the world. What a year he has had. A platinum selling album, a tour that brought a grieving country together in a way no one else had done, the birth of his child, the death of his father. He is asking us to help the developing world by relieving them of their debts. Who else is talking about that? He seems to use his celebrity like no other. He knows that "celebrity" is ridiculous, so he's using it for some good. He doesn't just throw money at the problem, he wants to get at the structure of the problem, to figure out a solution. I feel like he must believe in Grace over Karma.
And yet, as mesmerizing as Bono is, like a pied piper with his following, it seems clear to me that this band is like a four legged table. Bono without the other three would be incomplete. They all support the table and carry it in their own ways. I wonder if Bono were standing on a stage by himself, would he feel alone? Would he feel incomplete? I like to think that he would. The sum of the 4 parts is what it is all about.
I saw him interviewed on a TV show here in America where he talked about this band saving his life. He said he could have turned out badly had not this group of friends come together. How lucky they all are, to have found each other. They seem as close as brothers. They are a family.
I have never been to a U2 concert. I don't know if I ever will get to one. If they come back to San Diego, I am there. I will however, be in Dublin in September for a wedding. Maybe, while wandering the streets with no names, I'll bump into Bono. If I did, what would I say? Simple. Thank you for reaching down into your soul and sharing what you found there with the rest of the world. Thank you for helping my country in its time of need, when all we could do is rage and cry. I hope that you have a happy life, that your children are safe and well, that you continue in a relationship with your wife and family that has obviously grounded you, comforted you and uplifted you. I probably won't see him. He probably won't even be in Dublin. He'll be off flying a kite on some hill, or banging on some Senator's door. But I'll be looking. And if this girl from San Diego should run across him I will invite him back to our town and maybe the friend from Dublin will come here to see him again. And this time we could go to the concert together.
Read another few words of reflection on U2 from the very eejit that Chris mentions above who flew from Dublin to San Diego to see U2 in concert.