The Three Sunrises

The Three Sunrises was a b side from The Unforgettable Fire single, and although I know the song and could sing at least some of the lyrics and hum at least some of the tune, I have to say that it is not quite unforgettable. In fact it’s mostly dull, mostly just seems like a half finished kind of piece, not fully formed I guess you would say. Feels like it could do with a bit more baking, perhaps a lot of work on the lyrics, and you might get a half decent song out of it. The half decent part is what bothers me though, it might be the explanation for why the song didn’t go very far, because it doesn’t sound like much of a hit, or even a worthwhile song to complete. If it’s in a stack of partially done songs, it’s going to float to the bottom of the stack as others jump above it.

Now if you’ve heard this song you’ll know it contains one of my chief complaints, that of repetition. I feel like I’m being a little repetitious in saying this. The whole “in this love song” part, what you would probably call the chorus, is repeated four times, but each of those is repeating “love song” four times, so you could say it’s repeated sixteen times in total. That’s a bit too much for me. But then it’s even compounded after that, because the verses in between repeat themselves too. “Love won’t find its own way home” and “sunshine on me” repeat throughout the song. This is what I’m talking about when I say it needs more work on the lyrics, because each of these parts appearing once or twice is okay, but four times is overkill.

I don’t know the point of the song. I don’t know what the three sunrises are. There are not enough words in the song to make it any clearer. I could call this a love song, and make something up about sunrises, but I don’t know. I could call it religious, and say that on the third day Jesus rose again, so maybe they’re referring to those three sunrises. Don’t know. And then I could point out that this came from The Unforgettable Fire, and survivors have talked about there being a second sun on the day the bombs were dropped. Again, might be a bit of a stretch. I just don’t think there are enough lyrics to determine the point of it.

The song’s other claim to fame is that it was on the Wide Awake In America CD, which I listened to a lot in the early days because a) it was one of a few U2 songs that I had live recordings of, and b) it had Bad on it, which for the longest time (and still to this day) was in my top few U2 songs of all time. So I heard The Three Sunrises quite a bit while listening to that CD. Doesn’t mean I remember much about it these days though.

My rating for The Three Sunrises: 3 / 10


My knowledge of Dublin is fairly sketchy. I have the map from the North Side Story book, but it even says that you mustn’t use it as an actual map, that it is not to scale and diagrammatic only. I have looked at Dublin on Google maps for a couple of things, obviously U2 related. If I were to sit down and draw a map of Dublin from memory it would be extremely basic, probably wrong in many places. If you are a Dubliner reading right now you probably want to stop reading, or maybe take the rest of this as a comedy piece.

So my map of Dublin would begin with a line through the middle, crossing from left to right. This is the River Liffey, which I am not about to try and drink dry. I think it goes across the city and ends in the east at the Irish Sea. North of the Liffey I don’t know much, I know there’s a giant statue of a needle or something just to the north, I don’t remember what it is but it’s really shiny and looks weird in Google street view. Way to the north is where the band grew up, I know Cedarwood Road is up there somewhere, and I guess the rest of the band came from around there, although I don’t know where without looking it up. Malahide is I think just to the north of Cedarwood Road, right?

We go from north to south of the river, I believe the jail where they filmed the Celebration video is just on the south side, but way out on the west side of the city. Kilmanhaim Jail, or something like that. Back into the center of the city on the south side is the college, the bars where they began playing, the place where Windmill Lane was, all those early places that often get a mention. Somewhere in there, and it may be just on the north bank of the river, is the Clarence Hotel, the hotel that the band owns.

I bring all this up just to mention something I have in my house, one of my U2 souvenirs. This is not so much a souvenir though, more of an art piece. A guy I work with, who knows how big a U2 fan I am, travelled to Dublin a couple of years ago for work. Being a bit of a photographer in his spare time, he took his camera out and about in Dublin, and ended up at Windmill Lane. There he took a number of photos of the U2 graffiti wall, and when he got back home had some of them printed and framed, signed them and gave them to me as a gift. This was an amazing thing for him to do, I very much appreciate it. I appreciated it even more earlier this year when a developer tore down the studio, meaning it is something I will never see in my lifetime. My friend was disappointed though, but happy that he had gotten to see it before it was gone.

So, that’s my tour of Dublin for you. Did I get it right? Yes, one day I will go there, and I will take the U2 tour (I bet there are many, I will take them all). Then I’ll come back and write it all again, and maybe get some of it right.

October (song)

Well, let’s start the month off right. We are now into the month of October, so we’ll take a look at October. We already did the album, and I didn’t rate it very highly, in fact I had it as by far the worst U2 album of all time. But today we’ll switch it up and talk about the song, not the album.

I have a new favorite memory of the song, from just a couple of weeks ago. In one of the Torino shows, I was listening on Mixlr, and as you often do, hearing certain comments from the crowd that are close by the recorder. In this case, they started playing this song, and I hear a guy in the background, with a great Italian accent, saying Octobrrrrrr. It was funny, that rolling r sound, I wish I had that on tape, I would probably keep that as my live version of the song.

I like the song, in general. It is a little slow, it doesn’t have that much going for it really. A bunch of piano, and relatively few words, it doesn’t sound like much of a selling point, does it? Let alone that it’s so short, about 2:20, and even then Bono doesn’t start singing until over halfway through. So an oddity it is.

Now, one thing I always dislike is repetition of words in a song. This song doesn’t have it, unless you count the “and on” repeated at the end, but that’s just an effect rather than an actual point. No, what bugs me here is that there are so few lyrics. I know, that’s kind of backwards, especially for Bono. It feels like he didn’t really bother, just threw a few words together for the heck of it. Why is this just a starter, and not a full song? I don’t know. You could call it filler, you could call it just an embryo of a song, but they would tend to disagree with you. I like it, but somehow I think it needs more.

Something that did amaze and surprise me was that prior to this year on the Innocence And Experience tour, they had not played the song live since 1989. What surprised me was to learn, when I looked up that fact, that I was actually at the last show it was played on, in Auckland, New Zealand, way back then. That was a very long time ago, and I must confess to not remembering it at all, or indeed too much else about the show. But with that little reminder I can pretend that oh yeah, of course I remember it, just like yesterday.

They’re taking a few days off right now, I guess they’re resting up a little but I don’t know that for sure. What I do know is that it is totally messing with my schedule, two days off then two days on. I don’t know what I’m going to do at work tomorrow afternoon, I might actually have to do my job for once. Crazy.

My rating for October: 5 / 10

September review

And another month goes by, where is the year disappearing to? Today is my son’s birthday, turning eleven. In the last year he’s seen two U2 shows live, several others online, and I’ve managed to hook him into a bunch of U2 music. In fact tonight as he was laying in bed going to sleep I heard him singing Miracle.

We’ve seen a few shows in Europe now, and I must say I am mildly disappointed. I really expected there to be more differentiation between the US shows and the European shows. There have been a few differences, but I wished for more. I don’t know what I expected to change. They have been doing a few things about politics in Europe vs the US, the talk about refugees has been interesting and well-received. And changes to songs. Honestly I wish that each show was more different than the previous ones. There’s the theme through the first half of the show, but the second half could be much more variable. I know they’ve said they don’t want to disappoint people by having different shows, but really, how disappointing could it be? If you’re the kind of fan who would be disappointed, you’d be at every show or watching them online. And yes, I know I said I was disappointed earlier, but not by the content of the shows themselves.

I’ve been mentioning this all year long, but I am really starting to get backed into a corner on these reviews. Running out of songs to write about, because I took the easy route and wrote about a song too often earlier in the year. I really ought to concentrate and get a group of reviews about non-songs done, just so I can balance it out a little. As it is I am well below half of the reviews left being songs, so I’m going to have to work on it one way or another. Just look at this month, ten out of 29 are non-songs, should have been 15 or more.

Don't forget, if you want to talk to me, see the little blue bird down below to contact me on Twitter.

Here’s everything I reviewed this month, with the ratings I gave them:

Miss Sarajevo 8

Mofo 1

Can’t Help Falling In Love 4

Another Time, Another Place, Live At The Marquee 10

She’s A Mystery To Me (no rating)

Pop 4.6

Shadows And Tall Trees 4

Big Girls Are Best 6

Red Hill Mining Town 8

Happiness Is A Warm Gun 1

Please 8

Always 3

Where The Streets Have 2 Names (book) 3

Rise Up 5

Original Soundtracks I


Zoo Station 6

Heaven And Hell 3

Gone 4


Fortunate Son 3

Electrical Storm 7

U2 Show (book) 9

Van Diemen’s Land 6


Dancing Barefoot 4

All That You Can’t Leave Behind 6.3

Dirty Day 6

U2 in cartoons

U2 in cartoons

So in the last week or so there’s been this mildly weird craze where people are turning themselves into Peanuts cartoons. Someone did U2, and I have to admit that when I saw it I thought it looked terrible, that none of them really looked much of anything like themselves. There was another one produced a couple of days later, and it looked a bit better, but still not that much like the band. I guess I’m a little picky when it comes to people I know being turned into cartoons. It all reminds me of the times when U2 have been cartoonized on tv. The two that spring immediately to mind are South Park and the Simpsons, not sure if there are others.

I remember watching the South Park episode when it came out, and laughing and cringing at the same time. As a guy, I’m a big fan of toilet humor, and generally enjoyed South Park, in fact I liked it much longer than I probably should have. I must admit that I haven’t watched it the last couple of years, in fact I’m not even sure when or if it is still on. I guess I finally moved on from it. The episode itself was amusing, plenty of poop jokes, essentially the point of the story is to say that Bono is a giant piece of poo. Now, I’ve talked about him before, and noted that there are times when even I, a huge fan, find him pretty grating. I’m in fact kind of surprised that there hasn’t been much mention of him at the UN this past weekend (although there was a lot of other stuff going on). But as a general rule I am mildly amused and mildly insulted when people take shots at Bono, especially when they do it in an uneducated way (like anyone making fun of his glasses without knowing about his medical condition). So although I can enjoy the South Park episode, it’s not something I seek out to watch too often any more.

The South Park had no involvement by the band, but the Simpsons did. I had to check it out on Wikipedia to discover that U2 had asked to be on the show, versus most celebrities who get asked. Not sure why they did, except to be turned into cartoons on the show. So it was all run around the Pop tour, so we see Bono wearing the ridiculous fake muscle chest shirt, and shots of the Pop stage, while the band is playing Pride. Then Homer sneaks in, as the somewhat racist man delivering potatoes to the band, and Paul McGuinness lets him in. Of course, Homer takes over, so Bono starts speechifying, which causes Larry and Edge to leave to go to the pub, and in perhaps the best moment of the show, they decide to go without Adam and he calls them wankers. Later they sing while in the pub, and then Adam shows his latest addition to the spoon collection - the ninth spoon he has. That’s really funny, it surprises me that Adam is so prominent and that they parody themselves so well.

Generally enjoyable when you see them crossing over into other things, as long as they’re not being number twos.

Dirty Day

Wasn’t that dirty a day, unless you count that darn earth blocking light from the sun, causing the moon to look kind of muddy and the whole world to point their phones at it (yeah, me too, all I get is a little blob of light).

I like Dirty Day. It starts quiet and slow, builds up a little over time, gets somewhat faster and louder and so on. Then it sort of takes off a bit, but then slows down again. Kind of odd-paced, you might say. There’s an ongoing whine in the background that is a bit irritating at times, but it’s possible to tune it out if you concentrate on not hearing it. It does switch sounds here and there, then goes back to the original, so it does actually have a point, and isn’t just feedback during the recording. 

The lyrics are a little meandering, I don’t know if I can describe them very well. I’m not sure if I can even describe the point of the song. Supposedly inspired by lines from Bono’s father, who I guess might have been proud that he wrote some lyrics for a song? Not necessarily, at least given the little we know about him.

This is one of the U2 songs that most remind me of a movie, whether it is the theme of one or the subject matter or whatever. I mean that it is quite cinematic, and I think of Wim Wenders and his films and think that this might just be the kind of thing he would listen to and write a movie to.

Favorite line, the one that sticks out and pops back to me every so often, is “if you need someone to blame, throw a rock in the air and you’ll hit someone guilty.” I’m sure I’ve heard variations of this many times, but this is the one I know.

And they finish with a whole bunch of repetition, “those days days days run away like horses over the hill,” which is one of my pet peeves. It’s lyrics like that which make you think they ran out of ideas, and just repeated that last line to end the song.

There’s a different version out there, the Junk Day Mix, from the days when they were trying to become a club band. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s a little different to the original but I don’t see the point in it really. There’s a place where Bono does a screeching “wake up” but it does little more than wake you up, then it drips back into the standard. It does also have a wailing sound in the background which doesn’t add anything, it’s worse than the whining sound from the original song.

Saw pictures of Bono in a bar in Berlin today, after his short weekend trip to New York to talk to the United Nations. I’m still a little confused as to why he was there, something to do with activism, related to poverty and so on, you know, the usual issues he is interested in. I would call that his side job, I guess. Just as long as he keeps the day job (or the evening job, you might say).

My rating for Dirty Day: 6 / 10

All That You Can't Leave Behind

It felt like forever since there had been a U2 album when they released All That You Can’t Leave Behind. I think it was because after the weirdness of Pop (I use that word advisedly) there was something that seemed missing for a while. All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a breath of fresh air, and not just because it had a long title that I can use to fill in the word count. But speaking of, have you ever noticed how word counts changed over the years with the band? Most notably in the album titles, which started with one word (Boy, October War), then went to three (The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Rattle And Hum), then went back down (Achtung Baby, Zooropa, Pop), and back up again (All That You Can’t Leave Behind, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, No Line On The Horizon). Now we go to Songs Of Innocence and Songs Of Experience. After that will have to be another three word album. Okay, diversion over.

I remember being astounded by All That You Can’t Leave Behind. It was a wildly different album from Pop, it was really quite different from most of the others. There were hints of different things, it was rock and roll much more than many. I would suggest it most sounded like The Joshua Tree, but even that’s a bit of a stretch. It was more mellow, more laid back, somewhat more musical than other albums. That sounds weird when I put it like that, but it’s a little bit true. We’ve all heard them grow up through their career, from the early days when they were enthusiastic but inexperienced, through the experience and power of the middle days, and as they passed by that little weird phase they kind of grew up a lot. It led to an excellent album, outstanding in some ways, and one that I rate the third best album they’ve released.

They had the musical and emotional power in Walk On, a song for the ages. They had a string of decent and above average songs through the middle of the album, and little that is weak. And that’s been the thing about many of the albums, the difference between being good and great is that you have a short tail, nothing weak at the end. Almost every album has a top song or two, but to get to the best albums you have to eliminate the bad stuff at the bottom, the songs that get kept because there’s nothing else to replace them. All That You Can’t Leave Behind does this well, the lowest rated song being a four.

There are a couple of real rockers in Beautiful Day and Elevation, but most of the rest of the album is smooth and relaxing. It is another of those albums where I can put it on and wallow in the music, listen attentively and deeply, or that I can turn on and use as background noise. It works both ways, and I like that about it.

My rating for All That You Can’t Leave Behind: 6.3 / 10

Dancing Barefoot

“I’m dancing barefoot, heading for a spin,” one of those lines that sticks in my head and surfaces every now and then, depending on the trigger. That’s pretty much all I get through though before I am done with it, not much of the rest is memorable. I’m not saying it’s a bad song, it’s just a quiet, soft, not much of anything there song. It’s not even a U2 song, it’s a cover of a song written by Patti Smith, and maybe that’s why it’s not of much interest to me. It was released on the b side of When Love Comes To Town, and as a rule didn’t make much of an impression on me or anyone else, I don’t think.

The song features some decent playing by Edge, and Adam especially, given that it is somewhat of a downbeat song overall. Bono sings it like he’s feeling a little depressed, and I’m not sure if that’s the aim of the song. Well, to tell the truth I don’t know the point of the song at all. I would guess it’s something to do with love, although if it is it’s probably unrequited, certainly weird. I don’t think I can pigeonhole the song with one word or sentence, other than to say mildly interesting. But that also means it’s mildly uninteresting, and I’d probably say that would have to be true.

Bono is heading to New York today to talk to the United Nations. Kind of weird that he would leave Berlin after yesterday’s show, fly all the way to New York, talk to people, then get on a plane and fly all the way back to Berlin for the next show. I guess you can do that when you have a plane at your disposal. Actually, theoretically it’s something I could do, fly to London, give a speech, then fly back to Texas that night. I’d be tired, but I don’t think I’d have to worry about jet lag too much, just stay on Texas time and I should be okay, right? Or Berlin time, in Bono’s case.

This is I believe just the third time all year that I haven’t posted “on time.” I had planned for a fairly quiet evening at home, watching a movie then writing the blog, but that all changed at the last minute. My wife wanted to do something, so we ran out and had dinner then went and did her thing, and didn’t get home until 1.30am. At that point I said to myself no, I’m not going to write now, I’m going to sleep, and I can write it in the morning. And then the morning slipped away and here we are in the early evening, by far the latest I ever posted. It’s times like these that I wish I had stored up a few posts in reserve, so I could just pull it out and post it and be done. Lesson learned for the future, right? Not really, because now there’s only three months left in the year.

My rating for Dancing Barefoot: 4 / 10


September 25, 1976, a day that will live in infamy. For it was on that day that Larry Mullen Jr had a group of people over to his kitchen, and they played a few songs together for the first time. Some of them didn’t come back, some of them stayed for almost forty years (and counting). I wonder if Bono will mention the anniversary in the Berlin 2 show tonight?

So famously Larry put a note on the message board at the school they were attending, and several people showed up. In It Might Get Loud Edge took us back to the school, wandered through late at night, and showed us the actual board where the note was posted. I was surprised, I thought there should be some kind of commemorative stuff, maybe a spotlight on it, a neon sign saying U2 was here, or something like that. But no, it was just a regular board on a wall in a school, nothing exciting other than the fact that it spawned the biggest band in the world.

Can you imagine a band forming in your kitchen? I can’t, but then my son is only ten, so who knows what might appear in my future. I don’t think I’m going to count on him forming a band and becoming rich and famous though. Although if he does, I think I can get him 500 bucks, seems the least I can do given how much I’ve given to U2. I mean, I spent more than that on just show tickets this year alone, let alone flights and hotels. Let alone all the years worth of tickets and albums and books and shirts and so on. But it’s all been worth it, hasn’t it?

What do you think it’s like for the band, looking back on that day and remembering it? Now, I’m willing to bet that each of them have different memories of the day, and the guys who showed up but never joined the band have different memories too. That’s just the way that memory works, it’s why witnesses tell different stories about events, it’s why Brian Williams conflated stuff he did into a different story, and it’s why the band would all have a different way of seeing things that happened in Larry’s kitchen. You make yourself the hero of every story, although of course Larry tells you that he was the hero for about ten minutes before Bono took over. Which reminds me, I need to get a Larry Mullen Band shirt sometime.

I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t know if it’s possible for this type of story to happen today. Oh, a group could meet and form a band in the same way, but every one of them would have their iPhones out recording, and we’d know exactly what had happened. There’d be no backstory, no mystery, it would all be well documented. You would know everything about them, including what snacks they had while they were playing whatever songs they played. No need for any kind of websites listing their performances, they’d all be on the internet for all time. You could go back and relive any of it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Might be bad for a lot of bands, and good for a few. Probably wouldn’t make any difference if they were as good as U2 though.

Van Diemen's Land

Van Diemen’s Land is one of the Edge songs, one of the few songs where he is everything in the song from the guitar to the singing to the who knows, maybe the bass and drums. Actually there aren’t any drums on this song, I think Larry decided he wanted a little break at that point. And Bono plays guitar, but doesn’t sing. I don’t know why Edge did so much on the song, why it became such a personal project for him. But it is a sad song, and a sweet song, and something you just listen to quietly and enjoy.

Musically it’s a quiet little song, just guitar and bass, strumming slowly, nothing exceptional. Fairly simple overall, it feels like a song I could probably play myself, although I have never tried. I always think that I could play the slow and simple songs, but for some reason I don’t play them too much. I like to play the faster songs more, although I’m not very good at them. I kind of have that problem, wanting to run before I walk on a lot of things. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but in this case no, it’s not that much trouble that I can’t play a song on the guitar. Unless Bono pulls me up on stage, and I have to say that I can’t play whatever they want, but maybe they’ll be cool and ask me what I can play and we’ll play that. Guess I’ll have to work on Acrobat, huh?

The song is about the deportation of convicts from Ireland to Australia, more specifically Tasmania, which was originally known as Van Diemen’s Land. It is important to note that pretty much everyone who lives in Australia is either a convict or a descendant of a convict, which would probably go to explain most of what you know about Australia (if you knew me you’d get the context for this, and would probably think it’s pretty funny. If you don’t know me, just assume it is funny). The song is very sad, as you can tell from the opening lines, “hold me now, til this hour has gone around, and I’m gone on the rising tide.” Essentially saying goodbye to people, family or friends, because he is going to be put on a boat and sent to the other side of the world.

The song was the second song on the album, and the second song on the movie, playing behind the credits while we see images of the band around town, and then shots of them while they play the song. Somewhat low-key, just like the song. An interesting opening you might say, but really it does feel just like a bit of filler. One of the important things to note is that the song on the movie differs from the one on the album, it skips an entire verse (the “kings will rule” verse). I don’t know why, option one is that they cut it so that the length of the song would work for the length of the credits, and option two is that it had a little extra political stuff in it (kings rule while poor toil) which may not have been great for the movie. On the other hand they put a whole lot of politics in there, so I don’t know why they would skip that part.

My rating for Van Diemen’s Land: 6 / 10

U2 Show (book)

This is a review of the book U2 Show by Diana Scrimgeour.

I have a fairly large collection of U2 books, a couple of dozen or so. I have reviewed many of them here this year (over on the right you’ll see a link to Books), and more to come. But I’m going to tell you something right now: of all the U2 books I have, this one is the best, and if I were to recommend a single book about U2 it would be this. But there’s a caveat to that, because this is in many ways only for the U2 fan, rather than the casual fan. If you wanted just an overview of the band, this might not be it. On the other hand, if you wanted a pictorial history, this would be it, but it is so much more.

The funny thing is there are picture books about the band (maybe photo books is a better term, picture books sound like they’re for kids), and they’re okay, with the exception of the Anton Corbijn book which is really good. Then there are detail books about the band, and often they’ll go too shallow because they don’t have anything but the public stories. But this book combines the best of both, a large section (the first two hundred pages or so) of photos, and a smaller section (a hundred pages or so) of interviews and talk about the band and touring. It is really well done.

The first two thirds of the book are the photos, of tours from the beginning through Elevation (yes, like every other book my complaint is that it is quickly out of date, I wish they had could update it to the latest tour). Each tour has a small intro, maybe a couple of pages about it, then the rest is just photos with a very rare blurb or quote between them. There is not much within the intro that isn’t know, it’s essentially a recap of the tour with somewhat interesting snippets. But the photos are the stars in this section, and there are a lot, and I am happy to say that I hadn’t seen many of these photos before this book. Also happy they identify the show the pics were from, and that there were some from one of the shows I was at. Brings it just that little bit closer.

The last third of the book is the interviews, and this I think is the true gold of the book. This is where you get into the heads of the people running the tours, or creating them, or being tangentially involved with them but enough that they are interesting. There’s also a set of bios in the back of people involved with the band, which puts a little more detail on the names that you’ve heard for so long. But these interviews, this detail, this info about the backstage or offstage stuff, this is what I’m interested in. You don’t get this from the public persona of the band, you see the front, but never the back part of it. But here you get the setup in the studio, how they like things laid out, or stuff on how they decide on things that become very important (the description of the stage creation, with Bono adding a little bit then Adam taking out the center is great). I still go back and dip into the book every now and then, rereading certain parts and getting a little different info each time.

So, if you want detail, get it. If you want pics, get it. If you want the best of both, get it. It’s not like being at a show, but it’s certainly a peek backstage.

My rating for U2 Show (book): 9 / 10

Electrical Storm

My son though the title of this song - based on what he heard - was “Electric Toaster,” and now every time it comes on he and/or my wife will say “here’s electric toaster.” The sad thing is that thought has somehow stuck in my head and I think it way too often for my own liking.

The song was originally released as an off-track, just a random single released for the heck of it. Okay, truth is they wrote it as a single for the Best Of 1990-2000 album, which is kind of weird to put out. I mean, if it’s the best of that decade, how are you putting a brand new song on it? You don’t know if it’s going to be one of the best ofs. Because of all this the song never made it onto an album, although the quality was certainly good enough to get it there. I guess it was left over from the All That You Can’t Leave Behind sessions, and it definitely sounds like much of the rest of that album. It would have been a good fit on there somewhere, although I don’t know which other song would have to be left out so that it could get on (given the days when they had to make room for all of the songs on a CD, which isn’t required nowadays, although somehow they still stick to that process. In fact they still release albums, which doesn’t necessarily make sense either. I mean, why not finish and release each song by itself? I guess you sometimes want to have a theme going, but who wouldn’t want to get a new U2 song every month? I’d pay for it. If I was a band that would be an interesting way to go, wouldn’t it?)

When I was first listening to the single, it was okay, a little interesting but nothing great. It wasn’t, as always, until I heard it live that I realized it was an amazing song. The version on From The Ground Up really gets me, it sounds just so good. I actually think it’s the bass, which is weird. It’s one of those songs that they start playing lightly, just guitar and drums, quiet as you like, and it’s almost a minute and a half into the song when the bass kicks on, and then it sounds amazing. I really do like this, its its in my live collection as one of the better songs there.

The video makes very little sense to me. So Larry went in the ocean and pulled out a mermaid and all her stuff? Then for reasons unknown they just argued and the mermaid went back into the ocean? Really? What’s the point of that? Other than to get Larry a lot of screen time, which isn’t a bad thing since he’s always in the back of the group. You get a very little Adam and Edge in this video, and maybe it’s time for Adam to get his own video to star in?

Today is day 265, which leaves 100 days of reviews to write. I have plans for many, but I’m also running out of stuff to write about on short notice, which means things may be starting to get weird around here. Digging into the oddball stuff that I haven’t covered yet, it’s going to be interesting. Or not.

My rating for Electrical Storm: 7 /  10

Fortunate Son

Fortunate Son is a song by Credence Clearwater Revival that U2 covered, and released on the back of the Wild Horses CD. In terms of U2 covers this isn’t bad, although I don’t think it stands out that much. I don’t see it as being that good, it didn’t inspire me to go and check out anything else by CCR or John Fogerty, as so many other songs the band covered has caused me to do. I had to go check out Fogerty on Wikipedia to remind myself what he’d sung, and as I thought I’d heard of several of his songs. A very middle of the road musician I think, which makes me wonder about the choice of this song to be sung by U2. I think it has the political leaning that they like, which was probably enough for them to be interested in it. CCR has a little bit of a cachet in history though, so maybe it’s okay. The song itself, nice and bouncy, but nothing much to grab you really.

The song was talking about rich people in the Vietnam era, where they were getting their kids out of any kind of military duty or the possibility of having to go to war. The idea being that if you have skin in the game - your kid’s life - you will act differently as a leader. Well, you saw all these kids of politicians ducking out of any chance of being drafted, and funnily enough so many of them came back thirty and forty years later and were now the leaders. I’m thinking of a certain president and vice president, of course. And when they became the leaders they did the exact same thing - actions without any kind of consequence. Their parents taught them a great lesson, didn’t they?

And really now I’ve answered my own question about why U2 would cover this song.

Lots happening in Sweden today. Putting this here as a little kind of a diary. First of all the show was cancelled, because there was some kind of problem. Many rumors, nothing official that I can tell. First report was there was a problem with the ticket machines. Then it was reported that there was a bomb threat. Then that a man had pretended to be a cop and got in with a gun, which makes no sense at all (I’m a cop, so let me in with this gun). And reports that there was a credible threat against a specific person, which the world has assumed means Bono. Whatever the story, it’s kind of weird but at least everyone is safe. And I am reminded of the time there was a threat against Bono in Arizona many years ago, but the show went on. And during whatever song it was where they had speculated the threat would happen, Bono was singing with his eyes closed - presuming that the shot would come - and when the song ended he opened his eyes and Adam was standing in front of him, ready to take the bullet. Now that’s friendship.

My rating for Fortunate Son: 3 / 10


The Emmys are today apparently, and I couldn’t care less, because I don’t really believe in awards. Or at least certain awards, like the Emmys. You see, the Emmys are an award for a person in a role on tv, and they are generally deified for that role. I remember having a debate with someone many years ago about a tv show, with their argument being that the person who was the star was a natural for the role and they couldn’t imagine anyone better. My argument was that anyone could have gotten the role, and but for a good audition they might be saying the exact same thing about a different actor.

But that’s tv, where someone picks an actor based on nebulous feelings about them, not on any particular set of criteria. Same with movies, casting is essentially the same, although you do have to have people vote with their feet (or movie dollars) for particular actors. If they come to like someone they will go see them regardless of how good they are in a movie (what was that Affleck movie, Gigli?).

The best criteria for me is where you are judged exactly on what you do. Being that this is a U2 blog I obviously mean that awards where you are rated based on your results is better for me. If you produce something good and people vote for it, by either buying it or being an awards voter, then that seems a little more worthwhile to me. Maybe it’s an attempt at a justification, simply because I want to talk about U2 and awards.


If you look at the list of awards won by U2 on Wikipedia, you’re going to see a whole lot of junk. People’s Choice, which really is just a popularity contest. A bunch of things I’ve never even heard of. The only ones I’d consider worthwhile would be the Grammys, which are a music industry award and not subject to a popularity contest (although I guess you have to be popular with those voters, right?).

So they’ve won more Grammys than any other rock band (I guess that’s to distinguish individuals? I don’t know). What surprises me is how many nominations they had compared to wins, and some of the gaps. Like Achtung Baby never won anything, how is that possible? Or that Pop was nominated? Or that Window In The Skies won (like the song, not sure it’s Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals)? Or that Crazy won?

One issue I have with the Grammys, like many of the other award shows, is the problem of category inflation. By that I mean the attempt to do a bunch of different awards, even though they’re pretty much the same thing over and over. I mean, what the heck is the difference between song of the year and record of the year? Don’t know, but there have been years where the same song has been nominated for both, and there are years where they got one or the other nomination. Makes no sense to me. Better yet, the one I just listed above, Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. Just try and unwrap that one. Let alone that it says Pop.

And of course there’s Golden Globes, which is about movies, and U2 have won a couple of times, for Hands That Built America and Ordinary Love. Not coincidentally U2 have never won an Oscar for their music, despite their songs being nominated a few times. Ordinary Love is the song Bono was calling the second place song at the Oscars earlier in the tour.


Wandering through the middle of Pop is an adventure in randomness and a series of not very good songs. Sorry to say it but it’s true, Pop is one of the worst albums, and it’s best songs are at the end. The middle and perhaps the early part of the album are weak to terrible. Gone, being right in there, qualifies the same way. It feels like a song that maybe could have something in it, like much of the rest of the album it feels undercooked. U2 have said that the problem with the album is that they set a release date before it was finished, and thus never really got to finish many of the songs before they had to let it go.

The music is typically Pop, in some ways typical of the bad songs that U2 have released. A lot of drums - no offense Larry, but I think it’s pretty clear that for most of the good U2 songs you are working in the back, trying to get the rhythm going, rather than pushing out in front and guiding things. Similar thought for Adam, although that doesn’t really happen on this song, I guess I might say that the one thing that works on the song is the bass, very understated, just pushing things along as it should rather than getting in the way. Edge is out in his experimental self, and that’s okay when you’re working on a song, when you’re being creative with it, but again, you need to dial back the wildness to get to the core of the song, and that doesn’t happen here.

Bono’s lyrics leave a little to be desired too, there’s a little too much falling back into “I’m not coming down” when he doesn’t know what else to say, along with the end which is just all repeating Gone and similar sounding words to try and get an effect going. The song is ostensibly about being a rock star, about having everything thrown at you and feeling like you don’t deserve it. It’s the same feeling so many people get, that they’re frauds who are going to be found out someday, so they get nervous and defensive about their actions and success. I have recently been reading a lot about success, about this feeling, and come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. What matters is yourself, if you are successful you deserve it for a reason. I have always been nervous about public speaking, even speaking in front of a small group of coworkers. But again, lately I’ve realized that everyone is, and no-one is ready to stand up and do things. So if I do things then I’ll get to be the person that others admire, or go to, or whatever. So I’ve been trying to do that more lately. Tomorrow I have to present in front of a large group of strangers, next week I have to present in front of my coworkers. I’ll try to think of Bono’s words when I’m doing it, maybe I’m learning to like the way it feels.

And after all that, the news coming from Bono today was a rumor that the next album, Songs Of Experience, will be out next year. I’d like to say sooner rather than later, but I’d also like to make sure they cook it properly before they release it, so we don’t end up with an album like Pop and songs like Gone.

My rating for Gone: 4 / 10

Heaven And Hell

Yet another of the leftovers from the fertile period of Achtung Baby. This one feels quite a bit different to the rest though, and feels different to most if not all of Achtung Baby. I definitely agree with them about leaving the song off the album, because it wouldn’t fit, and I’m not sure what other album it would fit on. Now that I think about it, this is one of the more unique U2 songs, I can’t think which album it might fit on at all. Too slow for many, too organy, too, I don’t know. Definitely none of the early albums, something after 2000 I think. But even then it doesn’t fit on them, the sound really isn’t right anywhere. A true oddity.

Actually it at times gives me a little Beatles vibe. The song seems a little jazzy, like they were just noodling around and something popped out, as it usually does for them. The lyrics are quite well developed though, which suggests they’d been working at it, otherwise Bono would just be mumbling around trying to come up with something. That tells you that they at least for a while thought it was good, right? If you get something that far developed, you have been working on it and working on it, it just doesn’t pop out of your head that good (look at this blog, it’s just popping out of my head as I write, and it’s terrible).

I read through the lyrics and try and understand them, but it’s not easy. I do get the feeling that this is Bono trying to be really literary, I’m not talking magnum opus or anything like that, but maybe he had just read some Tolstoy or something and was feeling a little bookish, or nerdy. It’s one of those songs where I feel like everything is a reference to something else, a line from some novel, or mixed up words from something like the way he took 40 from the bible and gave a slight twist to the words. Not in the meaning, but like it was a slightly different interpretation of the original foreign language. Maybe like the way that using Google Translate doesn’t quite give you the natural language.

Okay, in minor seriousness, I think this song is about a relationship, but a relationship that has sparks between the two participants. The title obviously tells us heaven and hell, one of the two being heaven and the other hell. I guess that all depends on your perspective, right? But there are little bits back and forth that tell you all is not roses any more. I mean, the opening line is “You used to think I was something special” and that’s a dive into the wallowing right away. Actually, that’s a good way to put it, it’s someone sitting there looking back and feeling kind of melancholy about things.

See, I do make this up as I go along. And eventually I get to some place that seems kind of sensible. But I don’t go back and edit, which would make me look a lot smarter, right?

Listened to Stockholm 2 this afternoon at work, was really annoyed that I was interrupted by people while trying to listen. Why the heck would people do that, expect me to work at work when U2 is playing? It was just as Bono was doing some speechifying too, early in the show. Guess I’ll never know what he said. Maybe I should just start taking afternoons off every few days, or at least take a late and really long lunch.

My rating for Heaven And Hell: 3 / 10

Zoo Station

I rate Zoo Station as one of the worst songs on Achtung Baby, which overall makes it above average because that album was so good. On a few other albums it would be top three or four.

Perhaps my biggest problem with Zoo Station is that I’m always conflating it with Zooropa, all because of the title. I mean, how many times can you put Zoo in the title of a song (or album)? Three, apparently.

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I swear I vividly remember listening to Achtung Baby the first time, putting it on and listening to Zoo Station, the first song on the album, and asking myself what the heck I was listening to. It was so wildly different from the previous albums that I didn’t know what was going on, and it took quite a while of listening for the whole thing to gel for me. This is one, like I said, where the rating didn’t rise as much as others. 

It starts with a blast, the guitar jumping right out at you while everything else (drums, bass, kitchen sink) steps in from behind, then the weirdness takes a turn into rock when Bono starts making noise. Of course his voice is all distorted, it wouldn’t fit with everything else if it wasn’t. Actually from that point on most of it is fairly similar sounding, it doesn’t wander off up it’s own navel here and there.

Too many lines in this song that pop into my head all the time. Waiting in line. Gridlock. Shuffle (that one irks my son when we’re playing cards, and I start singing “ready for the shuffle”). Pretty much any time someone mentions a zoo, although that one flips back and forth between Zoo Station and Zooropa.

And the weird thing is that the song just fades off into nothingness. It has all this excitement at the start, really seems to be rocking things along, and it seems like they just run out of gas at the end, or out of ideas, or of a way to finish the song, and just sort of stop. Not a dead stop, like you might think would work, but more the kind of stop where they each individually run out of things to play, and just stop playing, but not at the same time so it’s like they just wander off stage when they’re done.

Had a great afternoon at work, put on earbuds and listened to the show from Stockholm. Really glad for the streams that popped up, for the first couple of songs I was watching on Periscope and sure my battery was going to die, but then I found a Mixlr feed and listened to that instead. Thanks to the person that did that, hopefully they’ll be there again tomorrow. I’ve talked many times before about how great it is to have the internet and people who wrote these apps and people who are willing to use them. The only problem I have with it is that it’s really hard to cry in the middle of the office while I’m listening. Quit making me cry, Bono.

My rating for Zoo Station: 6 / 10


U2 play a lot of music before their shows, I’m guessing there’s an hour’s worth in there each night, if not more. I seem to remember walking into Chicago 1 and hearing the music playing for quite a while. They play more of it this tour though, because there’s no band on before them to warm up the crowd. I know some of the songs they’ve been playing, don’t know others. But they have traditionally had the walk-on song (not the Walk On song, but the song they walk on stage to) each tour, and it differs each time. I saw a picture of a setlist earlier this tour which showed specific timing for when each band member had to move to get to the stage at the right moment, wish I knew where that pic was, probably saw it on Twitter somewhere.

But the point of this piece is that introductory song, the walk up music, the one that kind of gets associated with the tour, certainly with the entrance of the band and the building of excitement. Each song that I am listing below has specific memories for me, like I said that growing excitement and anticipation. So just a little look back at some of the songs I remember, and yes I had to google to get a list, but once I had it I was walking down memory lane.

Way back in Zoo TV they opened with Television (Drug of the Nation), which I definitely think of the whole sequence flashing through my mind, flashing through the screens, where the TVs are all playing different things, there’s the boom-de-boom of the German drummers. It’s an amazing sequence, indescribable in many ways. You’ve seen me talk about it before, the whole which way do I look thing, it really is great, possible the best opening ever. I don’t know if it will ever be topped.

Then the Pop tour started with Pop Muzik. Due to geographical challenges I never saw a show during Pop, I was on one side of the world when it was on the other, and by the time I got to their side of the world they’d gone to mine. So my memory of it is just from the video, with the band walking through the crowd and Bono wearing a hoodie like a boxer getting into the ring.

By Vertigo they were opening with Wake Up from Arcade Fire, and I have to admit a bias here because I have fallen in love with Arcade Fire recently. In the last couple of months I have bought all their albums and I listen to them at work almost every day. It is almost perfect music for listening to in the background, because it is enough to hear it and get the theme going, or to drop into and listen somewhat deeply at those moments when work gets dull. I tend to listen and sing along with U2, but I don’t have to do that with Arcade Fire. That may seem like a slam, but it’s really not. I love this music, it might not be as good as U2 but nothing is.

On 360 they played Bowie and Space Oddity, which was another great intro given their idea of the stage being a rocket ship. Not only a fun song that everyone knows, that gets a beat going, but lifts up the fans and the band.

And then of course there’s People Have The Power, which I never heard before the Innocence and Experience tour, but now I’ll never think of anything else but standing and anticipating Bono coming up.

Original Soundtracks I

A couple of songs off the Passengers album made it into the popular consciousness, or at least the U2 fan consciousness. The rest of them were not famous, not well-known, not really very good at all. So I’m covering the album as a whole and most of the songs here.

The official title for the album is Original Soundtracks 1, although I think I have always called it the Passengers album. It’s interesting that the Wikipedia article about it mentions that it is the lowest-selling U2 album, because most people don’t recognize it as a U2 album. I have to agree, I don’t see it as a U2 album, because Brian Eno was involved so much, I think even more than usual. He tends to have quite a bit of influence over the band when they’re recording together, but in this case I think all the influence was his, that they were following him this time rather than him guiding them a little.

So the two songs that came off the album that hit it big were Miss Sarajevo and Your Blue Room. Miss Sarajevo much more of course, it bled out into the public eye for a while, possibly due to the Pavarotti connection. It then took off like wildfire in U2 circles when Bono started doing the Pavarotti bit, and became one of those semi-staples (although I don’t think it has been played on the current tour yet). Your Blue Room was fun, interesting with a little connection to NASA (which is why they played it at one of the Houston shows I attended a few years ago), and generally enjoyable.

But the rest of it struggled. The point of the album was an attempt to make soundtracks for made-up films, and that gives us the one part of the album that is interesting. That is the descriptions of the movies, which I think turned out well. I believe it was Eno who made up descriptions of a bunch of movies, and they all took those descriptions and made music based on them. I don’t know how it works in real life, but I guess it might be the same, that you agree to write a song for a movie and they tell you what it’s about (or what the scene the song is going to is about) and you write a song. So it was really well done for them to do it that way, to be that creative. It seems almost inspiring to me, like it’s something I could do, make up some movies and do something to relate them to the real world. You never know.

I think I read that three of the movies were actually real, although I haven’t seen any of them.

The music itself is nothing, like I think most movie soundtracks. There are certain parts where you kind of get a feeling of interest, but it quickly fades. There are a couple of songs where you’re like “I see what you did there” and it makes sense. There are definitely songs where you have a specific feeling, one of them (and sadly I don’t remember which, because I can’t distinguish them that much) does give me a feeling of Japan. And yet I don’t think it’s Ito Okashi.

Oh yeah, and there’s Elvis Ate America, which is possibly the silliest song on the album, and perhaps one of the more enjoyable.

My rating for Original Soundtracks 1: 2 / 10

Rise Up

Rise Up qualifies into the fun song group, those that are not quite good enough to make it to an album, and those that get you a lyric stuck into your head. So, a lot of things going for it, but the thing that counts is that it was a b side, and thus didn’t get enough publicity to make it anywhere. Well, to be fair, it has a lot of repetitiveness, the title coming back ad nauseum, and I guess that might count as another strike against it. I do say that I like the song, I like the tempo, I like the music, I like the feeling of the lyrics (but the lyrics themselves are a mystery). Yet another example of even the b sides and unreleased material from The Joshua Tree being so good.

I like that they keep in those directions that they do, right at the start someone says “okay,” then that same person sings the first verse. I do not believe it is Bono, Bono takes over with the “Rise up” section and it clearly isn’t him singing the early part. So who is it? Internet doesn’t give an answer either way, in fact I don’t find anyone even asking the question. It doesn’t sound like Edge, and we know Adam and Larry don’t sing (and what we know of their voices it doesn’t sound like them). My guess is that it is either Eno or Lanois, and again I don’t think I know their voices well enough to say.

The song is clearly an early version, given that someone else is singing on it, but also given that Bono is very indistinct, mumbling his words as he goes. As we always talk about, this is what is called Bongolese, the made-up language that Bono sings when he doesn’t have words and is just trying out different sounds to try and head towards a resultant lyric. This is an interesting and fun way of working out lyrics. I guess it could be something I could try when writing this blog, although I suspect it’s a lot easier for me to write down the drivel that I write than it is for him to come up to lyrics for a song. It’s probably also easier for him to speak them out loud and get the sounds, I don’t think that would work for me here. Maybe if I were writing lyrics, or poetry, it might be a way to go, but even then I think it works much better for it to be spoken than written. That might explain why when you see Bono’s original lyrics there is a whole lot of scratching out, as he slowly builds towards his final version.

Listened to the last two shows in Amsterdam this weekend, seems like they’re not quite keeping the same as they were in the US, like I complained the other day. There have been minor changes, enough to be a little interesting. They are referencing things happening in the world, as they do on a regular basis. They talk about refugees (not migrants) coming to Europe with a great quote from Bono, “if your neighbor’s house is on fire, don’t be surprised if he comes knocking on your door.” And the line adding a lyric for the boy you all saw on the cover of every newspaper, just a slight twist in Pride, but it makes all the difference, “one boy washed up on an empty beach.”

My rating for Rise Up: 5 / 10