U2

The view from our seats.

U2 played last night at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Yesterday, my son called me up late in the morning and asked me, “You wanna go to see U2 tonight?”

In 1984, Bill and I was stationed in Northern Scotland at a communication station at Thurso. That was a momentous year. We married. I gave birth to my first child, Steven, and we discovered the Irish rock band, U2. Bill was an avid record collector, and we frequented the local record shop weekly to hear what was new, finger through the rows of albums for sale, and listen to the newly released albums. It was a social event for us; how strange times have changed!

The owner showed us the new U2 album, The Unforgettable Fire. Back then, I remember listening to UK albums, flying home to the States for leave, and the new rave in the UK hadn’t been released yet in the USA. Vice versa. There always seemed to be a six-month lag. Once we heard The Unforgettable Fire, we researched and found three previous albums and connected the dots. “Oh, yeah, that song. That’s U2? Let’s buy the album.”

So we gobbled up Boy (1980), October (1981), and  War (1983). The happiest times of our marriage was going home after a shift and listening to albums while we drank, played cards, and memorized all the songs. When Steven was born, I refrained from drinking and smoking, and U2 was in the background while I fed the boy, changed him, and thought about my future. I was only twenty-one years old. I didn’t have a clue how to be a mother and no family around to lend support. A friend sent me a baby book in the mail, and I was glad she did, for I felt inept.

The concert last night was a greatest-hits concert. 50,000 people in the stadium sang along to the top twenty hit repertoire. Steve didn’t know “Pride” was about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “I was in third grade, I think. I didn’t know about the lyrics.”  Each song conjured a different memory from my past. “I Will Follow” from Boy made me remember when I worked out to get back in shape after my son’s birth. I still see myself jumping up and down working up a sweat. From The Joshua Tree (1987), arguably their best album and the namesake of this tour, thirty years later–really?– I was getting ready to have my last child, my daughter. My marriage to Bill was suffering, and the melancholy songs resonated with me, especially “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.  

During the 1990s, I was divorced, a driven student, and hungry to learn. I remained in school for seventeen years while I started teaching in 1999 and continued on with graduate school. All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) reminded me of my commuting time as a non-traditional student. How many times did I listen to that album? “It’s a Beautiful Day” was an anthem song. During sad moments, I sang it loud to lift my spirits. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb(2004) was the last album (CD) I bought. I was in my early forties and so busy with teenagers and school, I listened to music on the radio, but didn’t choose to buy anything.

Eye level seats. They were perfect.

So yesterday, when Steve called me up and asked me to go to the U2 concert with his wife Tabitha and him, I jumped at the chance. The last time I went to a rock concert was in the late 1980s when I saw Paul McCartney and Wings at Madison Square Garden. I was long overdue.

The songs were played loudly, and that baby from 1984 is strong today despite whatever ineptness I imagined as a new mother. While you may not care one iota about U2, to me, they have been a part of my life for almost thirty-three years. I had always heard what outstanding performers they were over the years. I just thought before I died, it would be great to see the band that had somehow sewn their songs into my heart.

U2 is unique. Who else but they could sing rock songs about getting the girl and God in the same song? There’s something spiritual about Bono. He’s a minister who tries to change the world in a positive way with his belief in the power of love and the power of the people. Looking at Bono’s wrinkled face during the close-ups made me smile. We both have been through a lot. Sharing the concert with my son brought me back to my days of naiveté. It seemed fitting that I would watch the concert with Steve. U2 has accompanied me all of my adult life, and I am the better for it.

33 thoughts on “U2

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  1. I’ve never really been a concert goer. Not my thing I guess. But I do have some U2 music. It’s good.
    I still mostly listen to ‘oldies’. I just downloaded a whole bunch of music by It’s a Beautiful Day – one of the great groups from the San Francisco era.
    I’m sure there’s some good music being made these days, but …

  2. I can remember Thurso from many years ago, the late 70s. There were cliffs to the west of the harbour that were amazingly scary. I can remember going over a natural bridge with a drop of hundreds of feet either side. Isn’t it strange how young people often bite off a lot more than they can chew?

  3. It was nice reading about your life interwoven with your musical memories, and going full circle to the recent concert.
    As for U2, well I’m pleased that you enjoyed the gig…
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. The soundtracks to our years are always fascinating I think. I’ve not been a fan of any band overmuch, I tend to go for individual songs, but I did get the All That You Can’t Leave Behind album, which got me through a particularly painful breakup. Good that you enjoyed this with your son. 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure enjoying the concert with your son made it all the more special. Right now I have The Joshua Tree CD in my car player and listened to it as we drove from the Grand Canyon to Lake Havasu. Funny how life changes. We grow. We learn. And the music brings back memories. I’ve always enjoyed U2 and after spending the last decade around AZ, I actually know what a Joshua tree is. Great post Cindy!

  6. “Sewn their songs into my heart”. That is perfect, Cindy. Oh, I get it, and millions of others do, too. The power of music is so strong and has been forever. Thank goodness. An early Beatles concert, an Isley Brothers concert would be a dream. But, I have had enough to know that music shapes our lives. Seriously. I bring this to my preschoolers, too. Not children’s songs- real music. They love it!

  7. This is one of my favorite posts of yours Cindy. Really amazing perspective and how I know a bit more about you, almost vicariously, through U2. And vice versa. Superb stuff my friend. (P.S., my dad’s seen em 3 times while I have yet to go to my first. Grr….)

      1. I’ve got a trip to Asbury Park, PA to see my favorite band Dream Theater planned with my dad coming up in November. Was considering writing a piece on that experience. Stay tuned!

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