My memory is a very fragile thing, especially when it is based on a mistruth, not to be confused with a bald-faced lie. It was almost midnight on a Thursday night. It was the winter of 1980, I was in Champaign, Illinois trying to find “myself” as a pre-young adult, walking about the campus thinking that the answer would just come up and introduce itself to me. Instead, I stumbled upon a bar called either Panama Red’s or Mabel’s. The front door was wide open. Warm air and the stench of cigarettes and spilt beer spewed out, as well as someone screaming/singing “If you walk away, walk away, I walk away, walk away, I will follow.”
Fact: I heard U2’s “I Will Follow” blaring from a bar as a punk band bounced about and around on stage. Up until last night, I thought I caught a glimpse of U2 in concert. After searching the internet trying to support this, there was no way U2 was anywhere near Illinois that night or even that year. Fact: It was not U2. It was just a band covering “I Will Follow”. Nonetheless, I scraped some cash together and bought the album Boy. I was a U2 fan.
The next release in 1981, October, proved to be a better album. It showed signs of a band getting better. In 1983, they released War. I was all in. “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Seconds”, and “New Year’s Day” showed their mature steps out of the swamp of punk bands. 1984 saw the release of The Unforgettable Fire. This would prove to be their breakthrough album. They were all over the place, on the radio, on the MTV, plastered and promoted all over the record stores and on every single talk show. They were huge.
On May 21st or May 22nd of 1985, I saw U2 at the University of Chicago Pavilion. Lone Justice was the opening act. They were almost booed off the stage. I thought they were incredible. They played through the hatred and ended up winning over half the audience. Let’s face it, in 1985 it was U2 or nothing else. Opening up for U2 was probably the hardest gig.
Then came The Joshua Tree in 1987. In my mind, it was the slicker version of the previous one. Their growth had stopped, and with this, I jumped off the U2 train. I began to become one of those guys who would put their nose in the air and say things like, “U2 is overrated and predictable.” I was an unpopular music snob.
In 1988, they released Rattle And Hum. As far as I’m concerned, they jumped the shark with their horrific cover of “Helter Skelter”. 1991, U2 released Achtung Baby. At this point, I was so over U2, so much so, I let it pass me by like a fat guy eating a hot dog.
In the 2000’s, I read an article in a Brit music magazine called Uncut or Mojo, talking about the making of Achtung Baby. I currently acknowledge its existence and I don’t hate it. I barely respect it. Every release after leaves me so unaffected that I am speechless, as in I don’t care. Rich guys make a new album and preach about it, whoop-de-doo.
Today, I dismiss U2 as a quartet of pompous Irish idiots that don’t know when to shut the fuck up. Sadly, it has affected their whole work. I no longer have a relationship with them. I still like “I Will Follow”, but everything else makes me cringe, in the same way Styx music does.
dismissive response in the form of a question meant to trivialize the admission of me too
synonyms: no you didn’t, shut the front door, start a blog and I’ll read it
“U2? U2? As sure as I’m a Catholic altar boy, me too.”
“U2? Even though I have never been sexually abused, I’ve had food poisoning from a Subway’s, so I think I have some sort of idea of what you’re going through.”
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