Saturday, June 11, 2005

perhaps we have (found what i'm looking for).

I've been listening obsessively to U2 for the last few days. I've always loved their music, but this week has been really special. Music is a great stressbuster - I too, as the lovely E. once said, have mooched to The Verve after teenage disillusionment - and under this period of stress U2 have been perfect perspective providers. I have discovered that:

- in spite of my previous reluctance to embrace post-Achtung Baby U2, electric Irishmen pwn!!1~! my soul. In one word: Mofo, omg. In more words: you ought to know that if a band like U2 takes up something radical, they're going to do it well.

- Joshua Tree is still my favourite, and rightly so. Who am I to go against public sentiment? This is a landscape album in the best sense of the word. Lyrics are a very small part of this. I mildly enjoy U2's pop poetry, half-instinctive, half-calculated imagery, very broad and general stuff. But their music is everything. Chiming guitars = irritating at best when left alone. But Edge uses the sound so inventively on JT that it sounds like the wind wheeling, through "the arms of America;" an America that is not its people but a geographic entity; a continent older than humans. Primal stuff. There's the perfectly calculated rhythm section, nothing to heavy or too jangly, all backbone. And then Bono's voice, pulling it all together, subsuming, consuming, imperfect but thoroughly glorious.

JT is very rightly named for the tree that grows in the desert, even though Bono sings of white-golden pearls from the sea. These songs belong to the earth. There's nothing of limpidity, of sparkling water, of alien blue-green depths in their geography. Instead there are warm, roaring wings of storms, red-golden chaos, sand that will engulf you if you stop moving for so much as a second. There are no cuba-divers with froggish equipment in this album. Just the big, unknowing schoolboy dreams of century-old explorers, brave and innocent, trudging across unknown expanses of the Sahara.

- Rattle and Hum is another great album. Their cover of Helter Skelter is becoming a permanent favourite. I have three versions of that song. One is the original Beatles, vintage Macca stuff, really; frenetic guitar, awkward vocal, and that intangible Beatles quality. Purity even in the orgiastic. One is the Oasis cover, which is frankly a pain in the arse, snotty little Britpoppers trying to be other people. (I hate most of what passes for modern Brit alt rock. Pretentious little junkies. Come on, I'd rather have a Rage Against The Machine than a Coldplay or < insert Glum Rock band of choice here >. At least RatM's sense of entitlement had a point to it.) And then the U2 cover, which is essentially them doing what they do best, which is be big and arrogant and perfectly in sync with the groove of the song.

To end with the obligatory Bruce Springsteen quote:

Uno, dos, tres, catorce. That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire ... This is music meant to take on not only the powers that be but on a good day, the universe and God himself, if he was listening. It's man's accountability, and U2 belongs on this list.


  1. Somehow Oasis are just these snotty mofo's where Liam gallacher just wants to look like john L:ennon but runs his mouth off about him . Their cover is bad but they're a pretty good band. Listen to them a lot.

  2. I think the Gallaghers used to be funny at one point in time. Now they're just old and stupid. You know I don't listen much to Oasis, but I'm willing to take your word for them.

    Hey, try and get hold of some Madeleine Peyroux if you can, Kausha. She has the mostbrilliant voice! Get her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End Of Love."