Rediscovering U2

I’ve been screwing around with my music library a lot lately, ripping old CDs, copying stuff to my Volumio box, and so on. This has led me to a few points where I’ve gone back to bands I haven’t listened to in years, and rediscovering them. My most recent rediscovery is an old favorite: U2.

I was a huge U2 fan back in the 80s. I even remember when and where I heard my first U2 song. It was on WNEW, on Scott Muni’s “Things from England” segment. The song was their first big single, I Will Follow, from Boy. I specifically remember hearing it on my old “boom box” while sitting in my backyard.

Anyway, that was the start of my U2 fandom, which lasted from Boy (1980) up through Rattle and Hum (1988), with only increasing admiration. Things tapered off a bit with Achtung Baby (1991). I still kept buying most of their albums through the 90s, but my interest waned quite a bit. At some point I guess I lost interest entirely, and it seemed like Bono (in particular) had turned into a parody of himself.

But, as part of my ongoing efforts to consolidate and organize my music collection, I had listed U2 as an obvious candidate for a bit of cleanup. Well, I decided to do that a couple of weeks ago. I looked in iTunes, and saw that I didn’t really have much U2 in there. I had, at some point, ripped the two “best of” collections (80s and 90s). And, of course, I had Songs of Innocence, the infamous free U2 album that everybody got via iTunes, whether they wanted it or not. And a few singles and random songs, but not much else. So I found all my U2 CDs and ripped them all. In total, I have about 18 albums in iTunes now. (Some of them are really EPs or CD singles, but it’s still quite a lot.)

Just picking songs from that collection at random and listening to them, I’m reminded of what I liked about U2 in the first place. And I recently read a couple of pieces from The New Yorker that have made me think about them a bit more deeply. One is about their relationship to Christianity, and the other is about a lapsed U2 fan who rediscovers them (so I’m identifying with that one a bit). Now I kind of wish I’d figured this out earlier, so I could have gone to see them on their current Joshua Tree tour. I’ve never actually seen them live. (Hmm, there are still tickets available for tomorrow night’s show in San Diego, so technically I could still see them on this tour. If I wanted to call in sick tomorrow, and book a last-minute flight to San Diego…)

Somewhere in all this organization, the “completist” bug hit me, and I realized that I’m missing exactly three of their studio albums (Boy, Pop, and No Line on the Horizon). (I probably owned Boy on cassette or vinyl at some point, but never on CD.) So I thought about buying them. But I see that they’re all available on Amazon Prime Music, so I guess I can just listen to them that way and save myself $30. (Though, of course the completist/collector in me won’t be satisfied with that. I must OWN my music!)

Meanwhile, I’m getting interested in their next album Songs of Experience, which should be coming out before the end of the year (probably).

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