On the feast day of Ireland's patron saint, U2's Bono and The Edge look back and take stock while charting a way forward — and so do I.
How did I miss this? Ah life. Events moving me off my axis--as it were--until I can stand again (or something).
When the album dropped "One" is the first thing I listened to (being the first track and all). I was hooked. Like you I wondered whether my resistance to some of these was because I was too married to the original version. In my case it's a way I need to be a better fundamentalist. Yes. Because when I am? I do a better job of letting the fun come before da mental.
Thank you, again.
Very good article, might want to reproof, as it's missing a couple of words... criticism? No, you've almost got it dialed in and might as well.
U2 is indeed more than just a band. They are a cultural gift, filled with music and poetic lyrics.
It's a pleasure to see so many admirers of u2 in 1-spot.
What a lovely piece. I first fell in love with U2 listening to all that you can’t leave behind as a teenager. I couldn’t afford the albums so whilst I saved up pocket money to buy the back catalogue I borrowed “into the heart” by Niall stokes from the library and imagined what the songs sounded like. Each new album was an absolute revelation.
They’ve always been there for us really, in my case an antidote to the idea that life is rubbish and you shouldn’t bother trying, and it’s easiest just to retreat into our silos. That line from invisible - “there’s only us” is to my mind their core mission statement. The accepting of your own and others hypocrisy and frailty and conviction to love, despite how challenging life can be, for me underscores one, bad, pride, streets, all of their greatest songs. There is a deep joy in their music and in taking joy in those relationships in your own life, however hard.
I honestly attribute U2 as an important motivation in my life - Bono writes very well and encapsulates my own unwieldy relationship with my faith and loved ones pretty much spot on. I’ve been lucky enough to be a BBC producer, a charity communicator and now a civil servant and have a great career, and I’ve recently become a father too, the greatest blessing of all, and that relishing of relationships and active taking of joy is something essential to all of it - and a good blast of “ultraviolet” gets me through the crap bits!
For me, after all that, you have to take the band at their word. Is SOS a new album? No. Is it art that they’ve revisited and added something different to, a more intimate version of their songs and message? For me, yes. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about U2 recently is this casting-off of chasing relevancy and doing what they want to do. I never liked them because they were popular but because of what they spoke to.
On the wider band, Larry needs to heal and we have seen him struggle in recent years and he can’t keep going forever. At some sad point in the future, the band will for some reason stop. At that point we have to ask ourselves - can we really mourn after decades of such a gift, or do we take what we can from them to gild what we can in our own lives; can we change both the world and the world in us?
Kath - it’s a beautiful piece and huge congratulations on your citizenship. With appreciation from across the pond.
I've been away from culture news for a while and so had no idea this was coming out until I returned to Austin, and regular life, last night. My first reaction was, Why would I want to hear new versions of songs that, to my mind, are already perfect? Now, of course, after reading this piece, I'm rushing to pull it up on Spotify. A reminder that the gospel is inexhaustible!
“...you haven’t met yet everyone you will love and you haven’t met yet everyone who will love you.” Thank you for all this! Your words, U2 and John O’Donoghue set a good tone for the day.
Just lovely, Cathleen! You’ve gotten me reading and listening to Surrender and now I have a few more U2 treasures to delve into! Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Beautiful as always. Love O'Donoghue:
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
I always feel at home reading your missives.
"I AM AN IRISH CITIZEN!!!"
Duel citizenship, or otherwise? Just curious
I love your ode to U2. My level of fandom is not nearly as large as yours but they are part of a powerful memory for me. I first experienced them in high school when I saw the "New Year's Eve" video on MTV. I was totally a Top 40 music guy at that point but that video and song launched me into a whole new world—the hymn as rock song, the rock song as hymn. I saw that video at my friend Tom's house. He was one of my best friends in high school but we drifted apart pretty quickly after we went to college. He killed himself a few years after he graduated. Schizophrenia. He thought he was the devil. So "New Year's Eve" serves as funeral song—an honor song—a dark wonderment. Tom was very Catholic, as well. Can God help a man who believes he's the devil?