The first time when U2 came to my ears was in the year 2000, about 24 years after the band’s formation and a complete 19 years after I was born. I had purchased this collection called, The music of the millenium. It was a two tape set and had some really good artists like Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”, Queen’s “We are the champions” and Robbie Williams with Millennium.. Among them, was a song, called “With or without you” by U2. Ofcourse, as a western music listener, I had heard of U2 but never actually listened to their music. My kind of music, at that time, mostly revolved around the likes of Bryan Adams, Robbie williams and Boyzone. I remember, I was a great fan of Bryan Adams album, MTv Unplugged. So much that the first tape I had got had been used so much that it wouldnt play anymore.
Ofcourse, now as I see it, people into rock completely despise the kind of music bands like Boyzone or Backstreet Boys come up with. Its the same old mush and the love songs. As a 19 year old, I could’nt be blamed- I loved that music. And I admit, of all the boybands, I still love Boyzone. Ronan Keating comes up with amazing lyrics. I still havent got over with Boyzone’s music, though rock is more the preferred flavor now. But a few lines of a Boyzone song are enough to arouse the romantic poet in me. For a lot of my romantic poems which have been appreciated, the inspiration to get up and write them was by Boyzone.
“with or without you” was(and is) the perfect song, for a prospective U2 fan to listen to and explore the kind of music U2 has to offer. When I listened to that song- It generated a feeling- It was exactly the kind of music, I had been longing to hear since I had started listening to music- and I am not exaggerating here. I admit, I was not able to understand what the lyrics of the song meant. ” I cant live- with or without you”. But if you listen to U2 songs, you will come to understand, as I did, that there is always a deeper meaning into it. Infact, a very very deep meaning. I was astounded when I dared to imagine, how much research must Bono be doing before he actually sits down to write the first line of any song. Its tremendous. Its got to be tremendous. This is the stuff bands like U2 are made of.
My first U2 buy was the then latest album- All that you cant leave behind. That was, what I felt, a “silent” album. The music was never important in it. Atleast it did not feel to me that way. The songs were mostly focussing on the current human race problems- bombings in North Ireland- infact the song “peace on earth” was based on that. “Grace”, “When I look at the world” , “walk on” were songs which were based on human problems and deriving inspiration. The album fetched U2 some grammys. Infact I remember making my decision to buy the album after I saw Bono with the grammys in his hand, in a photo published in the Economic Times. I enjoyed the album thoroughly, listening to it all over again and again. That was also the time, when Robbie Williams had released, what I consider, his best initiative to music till date- the album- Sing when you are winning. Though the music styles of both of them are completely different- for me, it was a combination that stuck me to those two tapes for almost 6 months.
There are two basic characters about U2 which I feel, should be described. These are based on my own personal experiences. First, U2 has no style. They may carry the genre of a rock band but you never know they can come out with an album which is everything but rock. Starting with Rock and Roll they moved on to Classic slow rock in the Joshua tree to something never tried before in Achtung Baby, which is my all time favorite, to electronica in Zooropa and to disco-rock with Pop. U2 says, they have a better picture and an idea of what kind of music they dont want to make rather than having the idea of the kind of music they want to make. Such ideology, leads to a broad vision. Second, their lyrics is never positive. U2 is the last band you would want to goto when you are searching for happiness in their baggage of meaningful lyrics. Their songs may start from very negative and move towards little negative or little negative to somewhat positive attitude, but never it is a happy ending. Songs like “peace on earth”, “Love comes tumbling”, “one”, “pride” are classic examples that prove my observation. But I guess this is the characterstic of most of the Rock bands- and U2 does it best !
To be continued…
Originally from my first blog, this post was written in the wee hours of Friday, the 22nd of August 2003.