How Long to Sing this Song? #NaBloPoMo

I’ll be 40 in a week

I have a lot on my mind: change and constancy, dreams and regrets, friendship and loneliness, the past and future. I haven’t really imagined my life past this age. It’s hard enough to figure out what’s now much less what’s next. 

I’m finally going to write the post about the lies I tell myself, the post I’ve promised since starting this blog almost two years ago.

In the meantime, I give you 40 by U2, live at Red Rocks (one of the best places to see a concert ever! I saw both Sting and Sarah McLachlan there while in college). 

They were so young!  I was in third grade when this was filmed.

U2 provided the soundtrack to my youth and young adulthood.

Pride (In the Name of Love) is one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio. It still moves me, as do New Year’s Day and Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

The Joshua Tree is one of those albums I’d take with me to a deserted island. In Senior year of high school, the loss of my friend Erik–the anniversary of which is also this week–is all tied up with the song, With or Without You. Erik was part of a larger group of kids, mostly boys, that I hung out with back then. We had all been in the advanced science, math, and English classes together, and I see now that we were “geek chic” before it was a thing. Hindsight is 20/20.

The spring after Erik’s death, we went up to Tacoma to see U2 on the Achtung Baby tour. It was my first time spending the night in a motel with boys, drinking (bad motel) coffee, and getting served with detention for being five hours late to school the next day: the only detention I ever received.

I can’t listen to So Cruel without flashing back to a painful poolside dance at our graduation party. That was an eventful year.

When I went off to college that fall, Achtung Baby was drifting out of just about every dorm room. I’d wager I was the only Gen-Xer who showed up at college with a circa-1980 cassette tape player instead of a CD-player. I’m also probably the only Gen-Xer to say, “I’d wager.”

Nevertheless, I scraped my pennies together to buy used U2 cassette tapes from the secondhand music store: War, October, The Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree. My friends, Jennifer, Jenn, and I went to Graceland on Spring Break sophomore year, partly because Jenn loved Elvis, but mostly because the three of us loved U2 so much we wanted to reenact the scenes from their trip to Memphis from Rattle and Hum.

I’ve liked a few of their songs since those days, but haven’t bought a single album since Zoo Station. I finally sang at a Karaoke bar for the first and only time last year. Song? Where the Streets Have No Name.

My husband and I listened to a lot of music when we were first dating and reveled in our shared love for U2. I remember lying on his couch, talking about music, reminiscing about the songs of our youth. Just five short years ago. It seems we’ve had a lifetime together.

I always sing along with U2. If they’re playing on the car radio, I can’t turn it off and get out until they’ve finished. My husband and I both want to instill our children with an appreciation for U2 (along with Nirvana, Crowded House, The Smiths, the list goes on).

To sum up: U2 songs are my Golden Oldies. And I’m getting old.

Have a drink with me?

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Part of the solution since 1973.

40 thoughts on “How Long to Sing this Song? #NaBloPoMo

  1. Loved this….love U2, still. For me, the music that brings back a ton of memories is Annie Lennox — my lonely 20s and “Sweet Dreams”. I’m in my 50s and still loving all that music.

    1. Ah! I LOVE Sweet Dreams. It was the first music video I ever saw. I remember it so vividly. I have their greatest hits and a couple of her solo albums. The eighties get a bad rap, but there was some really incredible music.

  2. Kylie – I want to come to Portland just to watch Rattle and Hum with you! Amazing how music can transport us through time. And no, you weren’t the only one with cassettes! I didn’t buy a cd until jr. year! I think you just gave me and idea for something we can do to celebrate 40…

    1. God, we were poor!!!! So, so poor! Those were such good times, though, Jenn, and I have such strong memories of hanging out with you in Jen & Karen’s room watching R&H and copying her cd’s onto tapes bought in bulk from Walgreens. Those were such fun times!!! And I’m all ears to hear about your idea 🙂

  3. U2 will always be one of my all-time favorite bands. It’s absolutely a soundtrack to my formative years. If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to choose just one song of theirs as my favorite, which is almost impossible, I’d choose Pride (In the Name of Love). Fortunately I don’t think anyone will put a gun to my head for that reason, so that’s a relief. Where the Streets Have No Name is an interesting karaoke choice. U2 opened their concerts with that song for years. I’ve seen them live three times and the minute we heard the first strains of the song, before they came onstage, we all went berserk. Such good times.

    Thanks for this one, Kylie.

    1. I’ve had these songs in my head all weekend.
      I can’t claim I did them justice at karaoke but I *did* finally learn all the lyrics.
      Glad you enjoyed this!

    1. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to being a ‘fangirl.’ Red Rocks is an incredible place, and that was an incredible performance.
      Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  4. U2 makes me think of my son, who is now in his late 20’s. He was a huge fan. I listened to whatever music my kids were listening to. There are a lot of songs I hear that take me back to a specific time, day or event. It is one of the great things about music. I have a few movies that do that, too.

    1. You’re lucky your son has such good taste! Instead of classical music, I had my babies listen to alternative rock. Unfortunately you can’t hide Katy Perry from them forever…
      What are some of your favorite movies?

  5. I’ve got a bunch of years on you and going back to my high school days, ’63 to ’66, there were the Beach Boys and the Beatles. The thing was, my classmates liked me for one reason, I had Stones albums and their parents wouldn’t let them own them. For me U2 is good, but I was raised on rock and roll.

    1. I think there must be something about our teens and twenties that creates really strong memories and associations. That something might be hormones. Hmm.

  6. I suffer great depressive episodes around my birthday – the reasons are long and I’ll spare you. I was never a huge U2 fan (I liked War) and individual songs here and there. The very first conversation my husband and I engaged in was a bit of a “whose more hip than whom” with regards to music. We actually sat there, the entire night, asking each other if the other knew “such and such” band or song. Music was our beginning. It was and an integral part of our relationship. I’m looking forward to that post, I’m a sucker for brutal honesty. And good luck with turning 40, I’m sure you will handle it much better than I will.

    1. When my husband and I were dating, I made up a musical scavenger hunt for him. I emailed him a clue every day and he had to figure out the song and download it from iTunes to create a playlist. It was so much fun. I almost had him guess the JudyBats, but then I thought they were too obscure. Imagine my delight when he brought them up in one of our musical-bonding conversations.

      birthdays… don’t get me started… I wrote it all up last year in the post “Birthday Blues”

    1. Thanks! A worthy crush object.
      In college, there was a guy who lived on the floor below us in the Freshman dorm. We called him “Little Bono” because of the strong resemblance. We got so giddy whenever we saw him.

    1. You’re a doctor, so maybe you know… isn’t there some connection in the brain between the area that processes music and the area that processes memories? I’ve completely forgotten my Neuroscience.

    1. Thank you! My husband once observed that I talk about the past, while he talks about the future. Blogging is such a good way to get those memories out 😉

  7. Wow! I myself am turning 40 before the end of the month. (Thanksgiving day to be exact.) I’m sure we share many of the same sorts of memories, and I too am a big fan of U2, although to be honest I kind of started to lose interest after Achtung Baby. (I too owned it on cassette.) Joshua Tree is by far my favorite, and for me is tied directly to my painful yet, in retrospect fondly nostalgic: “post adolescence/pre-adult years.” So full of angst, loneliness and confusion, yet now those are some of the days I most enjoy recalling.

    1. What a great comment. Sometimes my birthday falls on Thanksgiving, as does my brother’s (two days later) and my daughter’s (two day’s before). It’s a busy time, and birthdays often get lost in the shuffle.

      I also lost interest after Achtung Baby. What happened to them? (I mean, besides destroying his voice with cigarettes?)

      Last night, I was just telling my 14-year old stepson that he is having the best years of his life. My husband chimed in that they’re only the best if you’re confident and have the intention to enjoy them. As an adult, I realize all teenagers must be full of angst, confusion, and insecurity, but they also think they are the only ones. I think your comment sums it up perfectly–the best of times, the worst of times. Those are our formative years, when we are creating our identities and memories that we will always look back on. Funny how the painful stuff slips away and we miss those years, isn’t it?

  8. Looking forward to the post!

    I absolutely love U2. One of my favorite memories was getting stoned at the beach (sorry mom!) with some friends, and listening to a “best of” mix someone made. Even now, when I hear some of their songs, I smile at the thought of the “philosophical” discussions we had that night as the music blared from the portable radio.

    1. *Trying*

      It’s not a vanity thing, it’s more a “what have I done with my life by now and why is it so much less than what I expected?” struggle that I’m having.

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