The man himself turns the big Five-Zero today (and the rest of us feel a little older as a result).
Turns out we’ve written pretty extensively on U2 and their charismatic lead singer. For an index of those posts, go here.
Okay, here goes. I would break the pop culture of 2009 down this way: a pretty good year for music, an alright year for film and a downright incredible year for television.
Five Favorite Films Of 2009*
1. Fantastic Mr Fox
2. District 9
3. In The Loop [warning for profuse-albeit-very-inventive foul language]
Most Underrated: Duplicity
Most Overrated: Inglourious Basterds
*Bear in mind that I haven’t seen The Hurt Locker, An Education, A Serious Man, The Road, Dr Parnassus, Big Fan or 2012 yet. So this is definitely more of a favorites list than a “best of”. And I am as surprised by the predominance…
1. Old White Lincoln – The Gaslight Anthem
2. It’s All True – The Lemonheads
3. Don’t Go Away – Oasis
4. Hey Bulldog [mono] – The Beatles
5. Psalms 40:2 – The Mountain Goats
6. Bless This Mess – David Bazan
7. Jena & Jimmy – Derek Webb
8. True Love 1980 – Ash
9. Got The Hots – Michael Jackson
10. Do It Again – Steely Dan
11. Come Undone – Duran Duran
12. Wake Up – Teddy Thompson
13. For Your Lover, Give Some Time – Richard Hawley
14. Jesus Is Waiting – Al Green
15. All Things Must Pass – Billy Preston
16. Why Do I Keep Counting – The Killers
Talk about jealousy – our friend Nathan was among those fortunate enough to score tickets to U2′s much-anticipated gig in NYC last night, and he sent us the following report. [To read Aaron Zimmerman's excellent 4-part series on the spiritual history of the band, click here, here, here and here.]
“We’ve got a spaceship,” Bono said in reference to the massive staging above his head in the center of the stadium, “but we’re not going anywhere without you.”
He didn’t just invite the audience on his otherworldly journey, he also invited Someone Else: at the end of the first song, “Breathe”, he…
I downloaded “Show Me What I’m Looking For” (any U2 similarities are purely coincidental?) by Carolina Liar a few months ago for free on iTunes, but didn’t pay much attention to what it said until I heard it on a preview for the Time Traveler’s Wife yesterday.
While the verdict is out on any intentional Christian meaning, I don’t think it matters. The lyrics are pure Gospel, and even the video, depicting the singer in his best v-neck tee wandering forlorn through Atlantic City, seems to suggest this man gets his inability to fix things for himself.
The last chorus, where…
PART 4: SAVED BY GRACE
Back in May, Mockingbird began a series examining the intersection of the lives, the faith, and the music of the members of U2. You can read the earlier posts here, here, and here.
The series was born out of the observation that the personal journey of the band—in particular that of Bono, and to a lesser extent, The Edge—traces a narrative arc that is mirrored in the lives of so many Christians. That is, some crisis in our lives turns us into seekers, people looking for love or mercy (ultimately, a quest for a gracious God). Then,…
Part 3: Sinners
Our four-part series on U2′s spiritual journey continues with a look at how the band dealt with the failure of their early aggressive form of Christianity. As we saw last time, their spiritual seeking had led them to a deep faith in Jesus. But it was in the context of an extremely legalistic community. They could not reconcile the grace they saw in Jesus with the rules-based living this community sought to enforce.
You can hear a lot of the ensuing doubt in the 1987 classic album, The Joshua Tree, especially in the super-obviously-titled, “I Still Haven’t Found What…
Part 2: Saints
Our look at U2′s spiritual journey continues. In the first installment, I looked at the pain Bono suffered as a young man desperate for his father’s approval. This need for acceptance, along with the death of his mother, made Bono a spiritual seeker from an early age. In 1976, Bono–along with Edge and Larry Mullen–became a born-again Christian.
These three members of U2 became part of a Christian community called Shalom. It was a serious group. That’s why I call these guys “saints” during this phase. Shalom had weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings, and the like. They were working…
Part 1: Seekers
Everyone knows that Bono, lead singer for U2, is an outspoken Christian. But do you know the story behind the band’s faith? Bono, Larry Mullen (drums), and Edge (guitar), were all members of a Christian community in Dublin called Shalom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While in high school, they had all had deep conversion experiences of the “born again” variety. (Bob Dylan was doing the same thing in LA at the time, by the way.) Their faith deeply informed their early work—songs like “Gloria,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “40″ (see an amazing 1983 live performance…
Here’s the 1st entry…
Bonobamaism: (n.) the ideological love child of Bono and Obama. Wow, look at all of that hope, now that’s what I call Bonobamism in action! Those pesky wars and famines are nothing a good shot of Bonobamism can’t handle. JDK
1. Earlier this winter, many of us went bonkers for the recent video-game documentary King Of Kong. I don’t know how we missed it but a writer for Harpers spent 5 years with the infamous Billy Mitchell (he-of-perfect-pacman-and-mullet-fame) and published a fascinating and rather touching write-up this past summer. A few choice quotes:
“‘[Playing the perfect game of Pac-Man] is like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon,’ [Billy] told reporters afterward. ‘No matter how many people accomplish the feat, it will always be Armstrong who will be remembered for doing it first. And, best of all, it was an American.’”
1. Wake Up (acoustic) – Arcade Fire
2. You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone – The Beach Boys
3. Breakdown – GNR
4. Back in ’72 – Bob Seger
5. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – The Smiths
6. Miracle Cure – Blank + Jones feat. Bernard Sumner
7. Give Some Love – JAZ
8. Just the Past – Peter, Bjorn & John
9. Moment Of Surrender – U2
10. By Thy Mercy – High Street Hymns
11. The Man – Pete Yorn and Natalie Maines
12. This Tornado Loves You – Neko Case
13. Through The Looking Glass – Peter Doherty
14. Read My Mind [Friday Night Lights mix]…
On my way back from NYC I was rocking out to the new U2 album, trying to stay awake, and got stuck listening to this song over an over again. It made me think of Steve Paulson’s – and the Bible’s – words about death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins, and Jesus saying, “Go home” to the healed paralytic. Apparently Bono was thinking about this too (or alternatively, perhaps he just has a lot of problems with technology in his life). Either way I could relate.
Footnote: This song immediately follows the track “Moment of Surrender” in which Bono says, “I’ve…
1. The amazing and important New Yorker article about David Foster Wallace’s final, unfinished novel, The Pale King. A couple of quick quotations from the article, the first from DFW himself:
“It seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies . . . in be[ing] willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow. Even now I’m scared about how sappy this’ll look in print, saying this. And the effort to actually to do it, not just talk about it, requires a kind of courage I don’t seem to have yet.”
And the second from…
The band is back in the spotlight in a major way this week, with the release of their new record and their stint on Letterman. Needless to say, it’s put me in a serious U2 phase. But having heard their more well-known songs so many times, I find myself digging deeper and deeper into the catalog to get my fix. Here’s my current top ten non-album tracks, heavy on latter-day material:
Staring At The Sun [Monster Truck Mix]. I have to confess, after Achtung Baby, Pop is my favorite U2 record. And being a sucker for Oasis, I always loved “Staring…