I share a lot of music on this site: weird mixes, pagan, goth, some classical, metal, ambient, MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! and other stuff too—whatever. But I’ve occasionally bled hints of a terrible secret.
From 1980 to 2000 I was an avowed zealot in the church of U2. I was a believer. Oh man, I believed.
Then, I didn’t. Just like everybody else.
Because U2 no longer seemed vital or alive or that horrible word, relevant. They’d become so big, so rich… so safe. The three albums they released from 2000 to 2009 — All That You Can’t Leave Behind, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and No Line on the Horizon — contained “good” music and compositions, but after multiple listens, I, like may long-time believers, shrugged at these albums. Where was the passion, the invention? Yeah, I’ll admit it, I still showed up on release day of all those albums to buy them, a desperate lover hoping for a shred of the frisson of a long ago ecstasy, even transfiguration, only to walk away disappointed, vowing with sour lips, never again.
Oh, I went all the way. I slammed U2 without remorse online. I included U2 in my forthcoming alternate history novel (Heavy) in which they are scheduled for public execution in a world-wide media spectacle. U2 was done.
Then, yesterday happened.
If you are even remotely media savvy you know that the mighty and evil empire known as APPLE rolled out its new fucking iPhone and the tentatively titled “iWatch” yesterday, September 9th, and yeah, Bono and the old boys ripped out onstage and played a new song, yeah, big deal—
Then they announced that their new album, Songs of Innocence, will be downloadable for free on iTunes until October 13.
Even sinister cynical Drax was mildly—mildly—taken aback by the audacity of this. Advance singles are leaked or given away for free all the time, but an entire album by a mega money-maker? Unprecedented. But then cynicism slipped its knife. It probably sucks.
Surprise, relevation, elevation.
Songs of Innocence doesn’t suck.
Songs of Innocence is easily U2’s best work in fifteen years.
I’m probably currently going through some form of male menopause. I cry all the time. No, really: I cry all the time, I cry more than John Boehner. If I feel something intensely, my eyes start to leak. It’s embarrassing. Sheesh. Whatever. But I must tell you, draxfans, all 3 point 2 of you, listening to U2’s Songs of Innocence last night, the tracks of my tears were in danger of flooding the planet.
It doesn’t suck.
I don’t care how it happened. I don’t care which producers or co-writers or musicians they brought in: The New U2 Album Does Not Suck. I do care that it’s tied into the promotion of a world-conquering corporation, yes I do. But at the end of the day, in the dark of the night, it’s only the music that matters.
When the music is good, it allows me to believe again. If only for a little while. To believe in old heroes. And fight another day.
Go to iTunes. Listen for yourself.