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Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Friday, October 07, 2005 ::

:: U2 - The Greatest Band in the World (get comfortable, this is a long one.) ::
You've seen the images in the previous post but they don't do justice to convey what it was like to see My Favorite Band perform for the first time in - I was a about to say years but I just remembered that I saw them on "Saturday Night Live" recently - months. They can't show you the goosebumps I got just from Conan announcing "ladies and gentlemen, U2!" They can't show how surreal and funny it was to see My Favorite Guitarist do the Year 2000 skit and completely nail it, only to have that moment stolen by God...er...Bono exiting the curtains in full Year 2000 gear and delivering his own quip. They certainly can't express that my level of excitement was such that I literally stood in front of my TV for the entire first segment during the intro and their opening performance of "All Because of You" as if I was at a concert.

(I'm such a dork.)

SNL was one thing but this was an entire show devoted to My Favorite Band. U2 on Conan. The last time I felt like this was in 2001 standing in front of the door leading into the Arrowhead Pond, where I was about to see them perform for the first time... except amplify that feeling a few ticks. I was fortunate enough to see them again later that year and those were among the greatest nights of my life. My first kiss pales in comparison. Getting accepted into Miami Ad School and moving to South Beach didn't match that. Dancing with and getting felt up by Cameron Diaz wasn't that good. Possibly because that never happened.

U2 is the reason I became a huge fan of rock music. I blogged about my love of classic rock before but a lot of that started with my purchase of "The Joshua Tree." Actually, it started the first time I heard their single "I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For." All I listened to at that point was Top40 fluff and hearing that song on the radio was a revelation. It didn't sound like anything else and the lyrics were eloquent and insightful. Then I heard "Where the Streets have No Name" and "With or Without You" and it snowballed from there. I was one of the only ones who realized immediately that "With or Without You" was about the anguish of unrequited love, not some romantic prom song.

I borrowed a friend's copy and practically wore the CD out. Forced to return it, I bought my own and wore that CD out (I know wearing out a CD is a scientific impossibility but work with me here). I loved it so much I bought all the previous albums, and when those were done I bought all the new stuff. I banged my head at the industrial brilliance of "Achtung Baby," felt perplexed at the peculiar tones of "Zooropa," and rejoiced at the return to the guitar-drenched soundscape and hope-filled lyrics of "All That You Can't Leave Behind." I also collected almost every single and import out there. That first purchase led to a collection of almost sixty U2 CDs.

Bono became a role model at a point in my life when I was disillusioned at the idea of role models. Sure it was cool to perform at the Live Aid Benefit Concert but Bono was the only one who flew out to Africa and volunteered his time as a relief worker. He's still married to his wife Alison for 20 or so years. He openly mocks the concept of celebrity but uses his own celebrity clout to try to influence policy. And it's not some empty celebrity endorsement for a cause that's trendy and sexy. It's the same thing he's been fighting for since his time in Africa. And perfect for my tastes, he's provided some unintentional comedy for me. My favorite being Clinton's second inauguration when he dedicated the song "One" to the President. A bitter pill of a breakup song that asks "Did I disappoint you or leave a bad taste in your mouth?"

Part of the reason I play guitar is because of The Edge. Sort of. I always wanted to play after listening to U2 all those year but when I had to deal with yet another failed relationship back in the late 90s, that was the catalyst I needed to finally pick it up because I desperately needed something else to think about. (Ironic how my reason was to take my mind off girls while the other 99.999% of guys learn it to pick up girls. But that's for another post.) I had nothing else to turn to. The first few songs I tried to learn were by U2 and I was quite horrible at it. I tried some easier songs. Then I started learning and practicing fundamentals. What started off as an entertaining diversion developed into passion. U2 songs suddenly became easy and my appreciation for their music, and music in general, increased.

But the thing that really drew me in was their lyrics. I felt at the time that Bono and The Edge just seemed to get it. I was going to church then and the happy-go-lucky gospel and choir music often felt hallow. U2 were the only ones willing to say that sometimes, being a Christian is struggle. That it's a journey that does have moments of joy [I have kissed honey lips/Felt the healing in her finger tips/It burned like fire] but is often littered with doubt [Desert sky, dream beneath the desert sky/The rivers run but soon run dry/We need new dreams tonight] and questions. Every other band was singing about how relationships (to put it one way) are so great but U2 sang about how it's often a source of pain [Through the storm, we reach the shore/You gave it all but I want more]. But underneath all that was a current of hope [I believe in the Kingdom Come/Then all the colours will bleed into one/Bleed into one], an exit for the forelorn [I've seen you walk unafraid/I've seen you in the clothes you made/Can you see the beauty inside of me?], an unwavering, yet wistful grip on the belief that better things [Touch me, take me to that other place/Teach me, I know I'm not a hopeless case] are just ahead.

Yeah, I know I'm gushing. It's a bit of an overstatement to say that I'm the man I am today because of U2 but there's a part of me that takes to heart the underlying meaning of many of the songs. I still strive for certain ideals. I may never be the guitarist that The Edge is but that doesn't prevent me from playing with verve, and that will never cease to be a thrill. I've failed in many things in many ways but I learned a while ago that scrapping my way out to the other side is what makes life better. Long live Rock.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 3:41 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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