Thursday, December 30, 2004

U2 as Milestones

While waiting in the auto service center today, I picked up a SPIN magazine, and saw that U2 turned 25. I've been a U2 fan since they began. Yes ... before they were even famous. Back when my buddy Dave Austin gave me a casette tape with "Boy" on one side and "October" on the other in 1982, I was hooked. Every album release since then has been punctuated the various different period of my life. When the "WAR" album came out, I was a single, rabidly Christian, sexually frustrated, 21 year old boy. I remember hearing "New Year's Day" on the radio (over and over again). The thoughts in my head weren't quite human. I was more like a cat. (I'm looking at Frida.) Yes. I was like a cat. I basically sat and blinked. When the "Unforgettable Fire" came out in 1984, I was a bit closer to human. I was probably a llama. I was starting to find good friendships, and was learning that I was in serious conflict with myself. I was 22, dating a cute girl and working for her dad. I wasn't supposed ot have sex with her. Really, I wasn't. I remember standing on the roof of one of our client's homes (an evangelist), while we were working on his house. Looking out over his cul de sac, listening to "A Sort of Homecoming" thinking "Life is good." That didn't last long. In 1985, concurrent with my first exodus from Christianity, U2 released "Wide Awake In America," which I listened to intensively. It was an LP that had some remixes and live versions of songs from "Unforgettable Fire." I was in a deep well of angst--practically suicidal over the cognitive dissonance I had put myself through. That album spoke to me. I think that album helped me evolve into ape-hood. Then came the halcyon days of "Joshua Tree." In order to cure all the problems I was having, I got married to someone who was my exact opposite. (Note: do not try this at home.) When that album came out in 1987, I was working three jobs and going to school full time. I had no sense of self whatsoever, I actually devolved from ape back to a sheep. But I still liked U2. Rattle and Hum reminds me of all the girls in college I couldn't have sex with because I was married. Elizabeth Wood comes to mind. So does Toni F. and Howie, who I actually did have sex with later. I liked the movie "Rattle and Hum," too. Three years later, "Achtung Baby" came out. On the day the album was released, I was serving Jury duty in Hollywood, and working as a writer for Disney at the time. I remember driving down Hollywood boulevard and seeing Howie. I honked at her and she pulled over we chatted a bit. I thought I'd never see her again after that. Much changed by the time "Zooropa" came out. I remember winding through the suburban streets of Colorado Springs listening to it. Life was good in an odd way. I had a job after a long, devastating period of unemployment. I had a new daughter. I had a house. Life seemed to be taking shape. It was like the calm before the storm. "Pop" was the sound of my head exploding. I hated the album, and I hated my life at that time. I was divorced, miserable, finding my footing as an agnostic, back in L.A. with no friends, and I weighed 132 pounds. Bad, bad times. "Pop" sucked, but I was at least edging closer to human-hood. I think I was a baboon by then. "All that you Can't Leave Behind" came out three years later. I was now dating Howie seriously, life was as happy as that album made you feel. Life was *really good.* I was now a full-fledged human, working at Warner Brothers, smoking lots of cigars, and kicking butt. And now "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" must represent some new phase in my life. It's definitely different. I live in a different place, different girlfriend, kids are older, different client. But the place you are in now can't be defined until you leave it. And there you have it. Jim's life story as told by U2 Album releases.


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