Achtung Y'all

Every morning I rise from bed, put on the running gear, and have at it. These are some of the most spiritual moments of my life, in part because the music of u2 forms the soundtrack for most of those runs. On this blog, I share that love with you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NLOTH: The Much-Maligned Album Got Five Stars

"I was born to sing for you/I didn't have a choice but to lift you up," Bono declares early on this album, in a song called "Magnificent." He does it in an oddly low register, a heated hush just above the shimmer of the Edge's guitar and the iron-horse roll of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. Bono is soon up in thin air with those familiar rodeo yells, on his way to the chorus, which ends with him just singing the word "magnificent," repeating it with relish, stretching the syllables.

But he does it not in self-congratulation, more like wonder and respect, as if in middle age, on his band's 11th studio album, he still can't believe his gift — and luck. Bono knows he was born with a good weapon for making the right kind of trouble: the clean gleam and rocket's arc of that voice. "It was one dull morning/I woke the world with bawling," he boasted in "Out of Control," written by Bono on his 18th birthday and issued on U2's Irish debut EP.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Zooropa: U2's "Night" Album

Image result for zooropa u2

/ July 3, 2013 - 1:37 pm

For about a week before I wrote this piece, I was looking for an excuse to go for a long drive at night and listen to Zooropa. That was how I first discovered the album, on late night drives home from my high school girlfriend’s house, the blue and red glow of my dashboard and the gentler strobe of the tall highway lights passing through my window the closest approximation I could muster in small-town Pennsylvania for whatever bizarre European discotheque I thought U2 was trying to conjure. I never did get around to that drive this time, but instead listened to it during the day, a circumstance in which Zooropa makes no sense. The idea that this came out 20 years ago, and that someone would have had to walk into a record store in broad daylight on a hot summer day to purchase it, does not translate for me. Because Zooropa has always felt like U2’s night album. Zooropa is the one about diving deep, totally disappearing into something, in a manner that doesn’t work in the light of day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Songs of Innocence: Aggregated Tour Setlist

1.            The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
2.            The Electric Co.
3.            Vertigo
4.            I Will Follow
5.            Iris (Hold Me Close)
6.            Cedarwood Road
7.            Song for Someone
8.            Sunday Bloody Sunday
9.            Raised by Wolves
10.          Until the End of the World

Intermission - The Wanderer

11.          Invisible
12.          Even Better Than the Real Thing
13.          Mysterious Ways
14.          Angel of Harlem
15.          When Love Comes to Town
16.          Every Breaking Wave
17.          Bullet the Blue Sky
18.          Pride
19.          Beautiful Day
20.          All I Want Is You
21.          With or Without You


22.          City of Blinding Lights
23.          Where the Streets Have No Name
24.          40


1.            One
2.            In God's Country
3.            Desire
4.            Elevation
5.            Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of
6.            I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
7.            Bad
8.            The Ocean
9.            11 O'Clock Tick Tock
11.          Sweetest Thing
12.          Miracle Drug
13.          Out of Control
14.          Ordinary Love
15.          The Troubles
16.          Lucifer's Hands
17.         Gloria
18.         Crystal Ballroom
19.         October

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The World's Biggest Band is Also its Most Spiritual

Image result for u2 elevation

Debating who deserves the arbitrary title of “The Greatest Living Band in the World” is futile, principally because tying down such a subjective distinction on a group that all music fans agree with is impossible. There is, however, a canon of contenders. Whether judged by influence, record sales, concert revenue or critical acclaim, certain bands routinely appear atop examinations of "The Best Ever."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Did Pop Suck?

Let's get one thing straight here before we go any further: I don't hate U2.

There was once a time, in fact, when the Irish quartet ranked up there with my favourite bands. I was fully obsessed as a kid. Practically wore out my cassette copies of War and The Unforgettable Fire, loved The Joshua Tree as much as everyone else, was still right there along with the band through the spellbinding experimentation of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. And then, suddenly, U2 lost its way.

Friday, July 17, 2015

U2 and Grace

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

From U2's song Grace

KARMA is the notion we all get what we deserve. If that's reality, we're all screwed.

As Mohandas Gandhi said, if the concept of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye was real, the world would be toothless and blind.

At the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum is grace -- God's gift for the undeserving. It's a gift of love that can take us by surprise. 

Grace is the notion God gives us what we don't deserve. And doesn't give us what we do deserve.

It's radical and shocking for many people because it upsets the ``natural'' balance in which we believe something good we have done in our lives merits the good things that come our way.

It also encourages the thought that those who act badly can get off the hook too easily. It sounds like a miscarriage of justice.

Then again, if something like karma is powerful, we are captive from birth by the hand dealt to us from a celestial pack of cards.

The Hindus were the first to believe in karma -- the concept that everything we do and say, good or bad, is a sort of energy force whose effects will be felt some day.

From a Christian point of view, it is not the major factor in our lives.

God's grace, if we let it in, cancels every debt; every shameful thing in our lives.

Grace is free, but it's not cheap. It works best when we acknowledge the source.

It is how we react to the causes and effects of life that matter most. Our destiny in the divine comedy is in our hands.

At a British conference on comparative religions in the 1950s, experts from around the globe were discussing whether any one belief was unique to Christianity.

Other religions had versions of God appearing in human form. As for resurrection, some had accounts of people returning from death.

The debate reached a stalemate before C.S. Lewis walked into the room and was asked what he thought was Christianity's unique contribution.

``Oh that's easy,'' Lewis said. ``It's grace.''

After some discussion, the conference delegates agreed.

The doctrine of karma, the Islamic Code of Law, the Jewish covenant and the Buddhist eightfold path offer ways to earn heavenly approval and eventual eternal happiness. Only Christianity offers a no-strings-attached view of salvation withGod's unconditional love.

Life is not fair, thank God, because it's rooted in grace.

Bono, the frontman of U2, expressed his preference for God's grace over karma.

``At the centre of all religions is the idea of karma,'' Bono said.

`You know, what you put out comes back to you.

``And yet, along comes this idea called grace to upend all that. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

``It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins on to the cross, because I know who I am and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

``It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between grace and karma.''

The notion of God's love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity.

Other noble religious traditions promise some sort of peace, detachment from striving and release from the suffering of the world. Christianity, in contrast, teaches that grace is found in the worst of our suffering,

The U2 song Grace depicts grace as a beautiful woman who creates music wherever she goes. It is the contradiction of karma.

Grace is hard to believe. It says there is nothing we can do to get right with God, but that God has made himself right with us.

Maybe we don't deserve grace, but it's there anyway and this is how we survive most of our human disasters. As the poet Alice Abrams said, in life as in the dance, grace glides on blistered feet.