Saturday, December 11, 2004

U2 rocks

Have been listening to the new U2 album (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) and can’t get Bono’s sublime crooning on the track "A Man and a Woman" out of my head -- was all but expelled from a meeting for humming it unconsciously today. Major spine-shiver when Bono sings the lines "The soul needs beauty for a soulmate; When the soul wants...the soul waits..." (Stop chuckling already, go LISTEN to the song.)

One of the great things about U2 is that with all the baggage of being the world’s "biggest, bestest rock band" they are still secure and confident enough to write and perform a simple love song in the most direct, unselfconscious way imaginable. I still have to listen to the album many more times but so far it reminds me in parts of my favourite U2 record, the 1984 The Unforgettable Fire -- very acclaimed at the time but almost forgotten today, or so it seems. That album was a bridge between their early days - when much of their work was teen-angst agitprop about the political discontent in Ireland - and the maturity of The Joshua Tree. But there are also echoes here of their beginnings: The Edge’s pulsating guitarwork and the boyish, wide-eyed abandon of Bono’s singing in the opening track "Vertigo" is a nice, nostalgic throwback to their work on Boy and War.

"What a drag it is getting old!" yammered Jagger in the 1960s, and nearly 40 years later he’s still howling and bounding about the stage. The members of U2 are, of course, young in comparison; but they are in their mid-40s, and show absolutely no sign of fading. The four of them first came together as high school students in 1976 and I marvel at how they’ve spent the better part of three decades together, creating great music with so much passion, with only occasional lulls, and without poking each others’ eyes out along the way. It’s scary.


  1. That new album is absolutely sweet. I'm listening to "A Man and a Woman" as I type this. Simple, lovely.

    And I agree with you about "The Unforgettable Fire": it's ethereal, and completely not radio-friendly, and a wonderful album.

    But you know what's really getting (back) under my skin? Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief". I mean, I'm already very familiar with it, and I already think it's the best of a series of great albums by them. I listened to it all day yesterday, and I seriously think there are six or seven AMAZING songs on the album. Incredibly spooky, and very very wise music making.


  2. the new album is good, some sublime guitar work by the edge. but i am feeling a little let down by their lyrics. their older work had more complex writing, was a lot more reflective, more poignant, more despairing. they sound more mature, and seem to have gone back to wanting simpler things ("man and a woman" vs. "hawkmoon"; "original of the species" vs. "with or without"). where's the fun in that, i ask. or maybe they've matured while i've stayed a "rattle and hum" kinda gal.

    am listening to "joshua tree" as i write this and cant help but notics these lines: "where poets speak their heart/then bleed for it". i guess that was written when bono and the lads had still something to prove as a songwriter. i guess i preferred their sound as a band that couldnt wait to tell the world that they'd arrived. some of that angst and desperation seems to have gotten lost somewhere between descending out of a giant lemon and "applying to get their job back" (circa "all that you cant leave behind").