My List of Favorite U2 Albums. Because John Scalzi.

So John Scalzi just posted his ranking of U2 albums in honor of the release of their new album, and that seemed like as good a reason as any for me to waste time on my own list. Also, how cool is it to discover that John Scalzi is a fan of MY BAND?! Because in my heart, they will always be my band. I mean, those who know me well know my long-standing U2 obsession. I was the geeky American girl with weird hair and a neon pink and yellow dress in Dublin in the early 1980’s writing my name on the wall outside Windmill Lane Studios. Of course, all I had with me was a lipstick, so I’m pretty sure it’s gone by now. I was that oddball night owl who felt like her entire life changed when she stumbled across these raucous Irish guys late one night on Tom Snyder‘s Tomorrow show. I have the single and the T-shirt for “A Celebration” (never released in the US) and yes, yes, my children — I have this:

U2-3 - a signed, early re-release of U2's first EP. The EP released in 1979 and then this later edition came out around 1981, think.

U2-3 – U2’s first EP, released back in 1979. Does not have the original cover sleeve. But is still PRICELESS as far as I’m concerned.

I haven’t listened to the new album, Songs of Innocence yet. To be honest, I’m a little afraid. The last two albums — No Line on the Horizon and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb were very so-so albums. “Going through the motions, putting something out there to give us an excuse to go on tour” albums is how I’d class them. Not bad, just very uninspired. And I get that, I completely do. I have been so creatively uninspired for YEARS that I still haven’t finished my third book, begun back in 2012. And in 2013. And twice in 2014!

So Bono, my man, if you are reading this, I’m not judging — I’m just sayin’.

But I don’t really care how good or bad the new album is. U2’s music was such an inspiration to me in my youth, I feel like they could do an album of Bing Crosby cover tunes and I’d probably buy it. The best of their music still lifts me up when I’m feeling low (Boy) and still channels all the anger I sometimes feel — whether it’s anger over the death of a loved one (All That You Can’t Leave Behind), a betrayal by a friend (Achtung Baby) or an incompetent government lurching into its thirteenth year of endless war (yes, obviously, War).

One thing I have in common with Bono is the ability to take 50 words or even 500 to say what could be said in 5. I think it’s an Irish thing. Or an ADD thing. Or an Irish/ADD thing. Where was I? Oh yeah, so after entirely too much ado and verbosity, here’s my ranking of U2 albums:

1.  Boy – because it’s the beginning.

2.  Achtung Baby – because it’s a fabulously angry and bewildered and intense album.

3.  The Joshua Tree – because it came during a very big emotional crisis in my life and I honestly believe if it hadn’t been for this album & a fortuitous visit with a friend in Arizona (who coincidentally took me to see the Joshua trees) – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive today.

4.  Zooropa – Lemon! Stay! Johnny Cash, for God’s sake! How can anyone NOT love this album?!

5.  All That You Can’t Leave Behind – just has a nice, clean, stripped-down sound and the whole band seemed so reinvigorated with the release of this album. To be brutally honest, I kind of wish they’d stopped there. (Although to be fair, I just downloaded Songs of Innocence and haven’t listened to it yet. Maybe that will be fresh and invigorating too. Although I suspect it’s really just going to be one of the aforementioned excuse-to-go-on-tour albums.

6.  War – I kind of hated this one for awhile, because this was when everyone else discovered MY band But it does have some great songs, especially “Two Hearts Beat as One.”

7.  October – I like how introspective and openly spiritual it is, although I know that annoys some people.

8.  Rattle and Hum – Pompous and self-important, yes; but it does have “Desire” and “When Love Comes to Town.”

9.  The Unforgettable Fire – I like a lot of songs on this album, but it just doesn’t excite me very much anymore. Loved it at the time though.

These last three are all just sort of “meh” albums. Not inspired, not bold, each one with a couple of good songs but largely forgettable. But I think that’s allowed when you’ve recorded so much other good stuff.

10. Pop – Best song: Do You Feel Loved? or If You Wear That Velvet Dress

11. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb – Best Song: A Man and A Woman

12. No Line on the Horizon – Best Song: Magnificent or White As Snow

I didn’t include the “Wide Awake in America” EP that’s on John Scalzi’s list, because it’s not an album. But I have great sentimental memories of that one, having purchased it at the original Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street during my summer in London, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and people bought music on these big vinyl platters. I know! Crazy, right?! Because who BUYS music these days???

I also didn’t include Songs of Innocence because it’s too new. I’ve only listened to one song on it and even if I had listened to the entire album, I couldn’t rank it yet. Some things take a while to grow on me musically, especially (and I suppose, rather oddly) songs by U2. I really hated Zooropa when it was released, but I love it now. In fact, musically, I’d really rank this one higher than Joshua Tree, but Joshua Tree has that sentimental thing going on with me. Go figure.

So that’s all I really have to say about U2. If you love them, great; if you hate them, I’m okay with that too. People seem to mostly feel one way or the other about them (sometimes the same people on the same day, including myself), but that’s another thing I like about them. They definitely provoke a response.

Last but not least, in case you didn’t see it that night, here’s the performance that changed my life from Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show. YOU SHOULD ALL BE VERY GRATEFUL FOR THIS, BECAUSE IT WAS AFTER WATCHING THIS PERFORMANCE THAT I GAVE UP THE GUITAR AND DECIDED TO FOCUS ON WRITING INSTEAD….

 

 

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Comments

  1. So long ago. So young. So much more hair.

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