U2: My Own Take

I first heard U2 through a friend from Toronto, way back when I was a kid. She was older than me and had cassettes of all the cool bands of the era – Duran Duran, Marillion (hey Mike!), tons of groups. And she had U2.

It was because of her that I used my Columbia House subscription to order cassettes of Boy, October, War (and the live Under A Blood Red Sky), and The Unforgettable Fire. There was something about their sound that just clicked with my young brain.

We were playing at a weekend hockey tournament in Goderich when my Dad sprung for my first copy of The Joshua Tree (see post from earlier today), on cassette. I played that thing to death, along with all the rest. I remember a girl in my class at school coming in one day wearing a t-shirt from the Joshua Tree tour. She was always cool, but going to see U2 made her even cooler.

And then I got Rattle And Hum, which was posted earlier today as well. What a record! That’s still one of my top rated albums today.

Sadly, I feel it was all downhill from there.

Now, I was a kid when all of this was going on. I was in high school by the time Achtung Baby dropped. Perhaps my tastes had changed… I was listening to a lot more jazz and swing, and playing in the stage band, so perhaps that did it. I really didn’t want to dislike it, but I did. I knew there were strong songs in there, but I didn’t like the approach. I’d been into the band for almost a decade, at that point, so I do feel that I tried. When I saw some of whatever the fuck Zooropa was on MuchMusic, I was done. I resolved to wait them out, hoping it was a phase.

I haven’t cared about anything since. Honestly, it’s like a switch got thrown inside me. It’s painting a lot with an incredibly broad brush, but I just can’t embrace any of the second half of their career. Perhaps it’s age. Maybe, if I had discovered them at Achtung Baby, I’d not like the earlier stuff as much. Who knows?

I do know that I am definitely tired of Bono. I can’t reconcile his cozying up to politicians looking to help the poor of the world, all while he lives the unreal and extravagant life of a multi-millionaire rock star. I also hated that time he worked with Leonard Cohen.

Anyway, you may have your own take on all of this. U2 have been around so long, and have tried so many different things, that everyone likely prefers different eras and albums than me. But my love for the band is not blindness (ahem). Actually, it ended around 1991. You do the math.


Posted on December 12, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Well, I have a different take. I love the early stuff, didn’t enjoy the Zooropa Pop era, and sort of picked them up again when they released Beautiful Day. Their last album is okaaaay. But, I still find them listenable. Bono doesn’t bother me…but then again I pay no mind to what he does.


  2. Bono…meh. I often wonder what it’s like for a mega-rich rock star, if you could even call any of them sane in the conventional sense. A guy like Bono hasn’t had to go to a grocery store and buy a carton of milk in like 30 years. He probably hasn’t had to drive in almost as long. People constantly kissing your ass, telling you how great you are, as you enjoy all the fine things in life that only the very wealthy can. And why not enjoy those things if you earned them? But how can one stay a sane human being with people treating you like a god 24/7? So I look at a guy like Bono and I think, “Well, in his mind he is probably so deluded that he actually thinks that he is making a difference in the world, talking to Obama.” Like Obama will save the climate from having lunch with Bono. It probably helps him sleep at night, knowing he talked to Obama about climate change while buying the latest energy mansions that he doesn’t need. I don’t know. I’m rambling. That’s what happens when you get me started!


  3. I’m a spotty U2 fan love Rattle And Hum,love Joshua Tree,Love Achtung Baby…the rest I can take some of it and leave it….I mean that tune Vertigo is a great rock track when I heard the rest its meh and I can’t even remember the songs ..it just fell flat for me….


    • Fell flat, that’s another good way of putting it. I always thought they were trying too hard, after a certain point. Like Al Pacino’s acting in the 90s, when he mistaken equated powerful acting with yelling a lot. The raw energy of young U2 made the politics and the brashness OK. Now it’s just bloat, trying too hard to sound like they used to… which leads to a whole lotta Pacino-yelling (and warmed-over riffs). Meh.


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