(4 march 2009)
there are times when i feel required to write about something.
for example, whenever a kennedy runs into a road block, runs for office, runs for… well, anything. it seems at those times, as the resident Group Keeper of All Kennedy-Related Things, i should have a rush of analysis at the ready. or whenever anyone in any way vaguely-related to the tv, film, or theater of my childhood, a first family, or tabloids dies. i’m there with the eugoogley. hell, i am the girl who has blogged about every email i’ve ever received regarding the dvd release of the mary tyler moore show. because these are terribly important things.
and the release of the new u2 album yesterday was a terribly important thing. but then, it really wasn’t.
i should preface this with the fact that i love u2. i counted down to every single/album/show, downloaded every findable bootleg, read every book, condemned every writer of a bad review, dissected every lyric. i believed the nonsense that all that you can’t leave behind was a step forward. i thought the endless stream of greatest hits drivel was a musical boon.
but, if we’re being honest, the only emotion i felt this past december upon hearing that u2 would finally be releasing a new album (their first in 5 years) was dread. unadulterated dread.
i didn’t really think about it much then. now, i think i didn’t think about it then because i was afraid i would wind up thinking what i’m thinking now.
which is that maybe u2 will never be u2 again. at least not my u2.
yes, they’ll be the big stadium act that puts on the same two-hour show night after night (a gimmick i’ve defended for years though deep in the pits of my heart it pisses me off). bono will keep running around the heart/circle/square during “streets.”
adam will always be stage left. edge will always be stage right. at one point during the evening, like foreign dignitaries deigning to visit the poorer nation next door, they will each saunter over and briefly acknowledge the fans on the opposite side of the stage before returning to their respective corners.
u2 will always do an encore. and in that encore, bono will always pull a girl up on the stage during “with or without you” and all us sad-saps in the audience will always be thinking, oh my God, bono just pulled that girl up ON THE STAGE and now he’s going to SING TO HER!!! to us, this will seem shocking though it is something he has done in every performance since 1989.
that is u2.
but that is not my u2. and, sadly, i’m fast coming to the realization that perhaps my u2 has died.
what we are left with is a sad, scared u2. a u2 that takes 5 years to produce an album that sounds curiously similar to the 2 albums they put out in the 5 years before that.
they have set up camp in a dead end.
this realization has left me strangely bereft. longing for the u2 that could form a band before they knew how to play their instruments. that could make four videos for a song called “one.” that could make “with or without you” run 10 minutes long. the u2 that could close an album with a song so against where they were that it could only be sung by johnny cash.
for the most part, everybody seems ok without all that, with this new u2. the guardian declared this their “greatest studio album ever.”
seriously. people. what the hell?
maybe everyone else reached the point of lowered expectations in advance of me.
or maybe this is just the normal process of realizing the heroes of your youth have become old men.