U is for U2

The first time I heard U2, I was in the bookstore at Kent State. I was only halfway listening, when some words the singer was singing grabbed my attention:

“… and the battle’s just begun, to claim the victory Jesus won …”

If you know anything about pop and rock music in the late 1970s, early 1980s, it was that:

1) Jesus was rarely mentioned (and rarely respectfully) and
2) If He was mentioned respectfully, it was usually in some “Kumbaya”-like folk song (I didn’t know about Jesus-people rock until much later)

I went up to the front desk and asked the guy behind the counter what they were playing. He showed me this album with a young boy on the front and the title of U2 War. The guy explained the band was called U2 and they were from Ireland and they were also Christians.

My budget didn’t run to albums (even though they weren’t that expensive, really) and I put the band’s name on my mental backburner and went on.

Down the road about five years or so, we all heard about Live Aid. I watched it, and there was U2 again, the lead singer drawing my attention by his antics. But the music caught my attention, too, and when Joshua Tree came out, I bought it and listened to it over and over again. Here were guys my age

singing things I believed in. I fell in love with the group and have loved them and their music ever since.

So today’s for U2 — still “Magnificent”. “Walk on”, guys.

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Love is Blindness…

‘”Love is drowning
In a deep well
All the secrets
And no one to tell…”

U2, “Love is Blindness”

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about and praying for a lot of friends. My contemporaries and I have started to hit the age where parents and even siblings are encountering serious, even life-ending, illness. While I’ve already had my adoptive mom and dad pass, and seen my sister through some health scares, I still (not being an island) am connected to what those around me are going through.  And I still have some involvement with my birth father. To make a long story a little shorter, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering mortality lately. But that’s not what this post is about.

I have one particular friend who means a lot to me.  No.  I’m tired of being a coward about my feelings — although part of me is glad that my friend doesn’t have time to read blog posts. 🙂  This person is special to me in a major way. And again I’m not being straight up about this.  I love him very much. And right now, he’s helping to see his dad through cancer treatment, as well as running his businesses and taking care of his family on a day to day basis.  Also, I think — though he’s never confirmed it and I won’t press him about it — that he is dealing with health issues of his own.  If you ask him, he’ll say he’s fine and then change the subject to ask you how you’re doing.  He’s that kind of guy.

I’ve never told him how I feel.  I never will. Not that he sees me that way — at most I’m just a nice person he talks to on the Internet — at worst, I’m probably a major pest. 🙂 And I have commitments, too, that preclude this being anything but a long-distance friendship; promises I intend to keep, although there are days when I could cheerfully walk away from them. Sometimes it all gets to be too much. But I keep on keeping on.  And for my friend, I express my love the only way I can — by not saying anything at all. Just to be there as much as is possible, to hold him in my heart and pray for him.

Some times love is muteness, too.

Shut Up, and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is …

First, on a non-related-to-money note:  Tom got this cool video out of the library – it’s a compendium of the best moments — speeches, performances, jams, what have you, of the Rock and Roll Hall’s induction ceremonies.  This is really enjoyable stuff; it’s neat to see the combinations of artists and styles, and some of these guys are either pretty thoughtful or pretty funny — I love Ray Davies’ (of the Kinks) line about: “Rock and Roll has become respectable. What a bummer!”

On the thoughtful side,  I loved Edge’s (U2) speech on the group’s induction. I wanted to find it on YouTube, but no dice. In it’s place, I offer Adam Clayton’s equally eloquent speech. (Warning: There’s an abrupt transition to “Vertigo” and it’s pretty loud, so if you watch this, you might want to keep the volume down. I mean, if you like being able to hear and all. Just sayin’.) After Vertigo, Larry gives a brief but well-spoken speech as well.

I’ve spent the last two days obsessing about money.

Someone who I won’t mention found a way to spend $200 they didn’t have the right to spend in about 18 hours. I’m not giving them any more money to hold — and if they don’t like it, too bad. So I found myself in a deficit situation as regards the rent, but I think I’ve fixed it. For now. Sigh.

Plus, another tire is shot — they have really put cheap tires on our car. Shame on you, Nissan. Waving goodbye to another $70-100. Grr.

I’m hoping to learn today that we’ll have the money will fund our trip to California tomorrow or Tuesday. Please, Lord.

It’ll be nice to be able to go back to not worrying about cash. And I’m sure I’ll be able to. Some day. 🙂

It’s Only Rock and Roll …

Well, we spent the evening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night. The HOF/Museum is a lot of fun in its own right. I hadn’t been there since just after it opened and the firm I was with at the time hosted one of our quarterly outings at the Hall.

The exhibits were great, and I watched a short film produced by the HOF on songwriting. Then I went upstairs and stared reverently at U2’s signatures in the Hall itself and went out to the ‘jukeboxes’ and listened to several songs (U2, naturally).

There were some good moments during the induction ceremonies, but there were a lot more blah or even bad ones. The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff and Iggy and the Stooges were the best, although Benny Andersson’s speech was really very nice (which is more than I can say for the incompetent effort on the part of the remaining BeeGees). Trey Anastasio of Phish gave inducting Genesis the old school try, but Genesis without Gabriel was always a lot less than the sum of its parts, IMHO, and his speech was sort of at the same level.

Still, we had fun, and that has to count for something, right?

No Line on the Horizon (revisited)

I was just looking at my first look at U2’s NLOTH. For some reason, I’ve been listening to the album a lot during workouts.

Now that I’ve had a chance to hear it through a number of times, I find that I like it a lot better than I did initially. It’s a slow album — by that, I mean it’s got more in common with Unforgettable Fire than, say, Joshua Tree. JT was an accessible album with lots of stuff you could hook into right away. Same with, say, Achtung Baby, even though it’s not one of my personal likes.

NLOTH’s tracks require listening to, really hearing. Now that I have, there’s nothing on it I particularly dislike — probably my least favorite is “Fez”.

So if you didn’t “get” this music right away, give it another chance. I think it’ll grow on you.

On Rhapsody: “No Ordinary Love” by Sade

No Line on the Horizon

U2’s new album has come out.  I spent a couple of days listening to it streaming on U2’s MySpace page and I like a lot of it.  Some of it is going to need some time — I didn’t like “Get On Your Boots” at first, but it’s definitely grown on me.  I really like “Stand Up Comedy”, “White as Snow” and “Cedars of Lebanon”.

What strikes me the most is that my reaction to this work is almost diametrically opposed to “the average person” — especially younger “average persons”.  There are a lot of U2 haters out there, and I expect not to see eye to eye with them.  But I can’t get over the ones who don’t seem to realize U2 put out any albums before “Achtung Baby”.  I’m aware the rock demigod pontificators at Rolling Stone anointed AB as U2’s best album, but it, Zooropa and Pop never really hit my radar (although I do like “One”).  But then, what do I know?  I liked “Rattle and Hum” so much I wore the writing off the tape I had at the time. I liked All That You Can’t Leave Behind (“Grace” might be one of my favorite U2 songs ever) and HTDAAB.  I liked “War” and “Boy” and “October” and it goes without saying that I loved “Joshua Tree”.  U2 may have thrown us oldtimers out with the bathwater, but I haven’t given up on them and the music I started out listening to.  (Observant readers may realize that “Unforgettable Fire” isn’t on the list up there — other than “Pride” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, I give that one a miss, too. YMMV.)

I guess what bothers me the most is the cynicism behind a lot of the criticism.  U2 aren’t “relevant”, or so they say.  Being “relevant” apparently means being 30 or younger and not having a record deal.  Also, it seems to help to be angry.  If that’s what it takes to be “relevant” these days, (hear this, Larry Mullen, Jr.?*) then I plan to remain solidly irrelevant as long as I live.

*These are the people Larry Mullen, Jr. referred to in an interview:

There is no such thing as anything in the music business at its purest form. It’s all cursed by commerce, and you can’t get away from it. I don’t want to be in a band that’s treading water. I want to have my 17-year-old niece or nephew say, “I love that new single.” I really want that, because I don’t want to be relegated into, “That used to be relevant, it’s no longer relevant.” If that’s not possible, then we will stop.

While I understand not wanting to solely be a nostalgia act, why allow kids who don’t know all that much about music except what they DON’T like to determine your career course?  Aren’t us 48-year-olds who followed you for a long time and made your success possible when the 17-year-olds didn’t even exist “relevant”?

On MySpace: “White as Snow” by U2