Essays II

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Author: Megan ( PopSadie@aol.com )

Only on a U2 board could I get away with this rambling,..but hey isn't fawning over the music what this list is about:)? I don't consider myself a poet, but I don't know how else to express how I feel. Man...now I remember why "Mysterious Ways" is my favorite song. In this case it was the Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix that did the magic.

I can't believe how easy it is to start feeling distant from life and spirit. Lately I've been really stressed out over finals and papers and was starting to feel just a little dead, but letting my mind and body go tonight with "Mysterious Ways" really helped wake me up. I don't know... I remembered the spark. Mysterious Ways, its so easy to get weighed down with the world, to get confused, to get lost...to get so occupied with your studies that you don't notice the sunflowers, to see the bomb scare in the UK, to mourn for the victims in Colorado, to struggle to understand why you have food and water and shelter while thousands beg for their lives in Yugoslavia. You can get so weighed down in it that the spark of life seems distant, unreachable.

"You've been running away from what you don't understand..LOVE..." Lately, I feel I've been in that state. I don't understand why things are the way they are....and rather than accept that, I run away from the LOVE. "She's slippy, you're sliding down, she'll be there when you hit the ground." Sometimes its hard to grasp, sometimes it just seems too hard to understand, but tonight I got that no matter what, the spark will be there, the joy of living is there even when I'm struggling and slipping. "Its alright, Its alright, Its alright...She moves in mysterious ways..." That's it, it is ok.....things do happen, my world does get shaken but I still remember that there are some things that can't be explained away, can't be understood and can't be rationalized. I cry when I think about my world, but to be told "its alright its alright" helps me remember what I treasure and hope for....true life.

"Let her talk about the things you can't explain...to touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal, if you want to kiss the sky better learn how to kneel." If I listen to the voice I will understand more.....to submit, to admit that these hands without the help...to listen and speak to Life....if I want to Kiss the sky....LOVE. One day I'll look back...One day I will see just how much Love has held me, one day I will realize how high Love has lifted me and see that its alright, She does move in Mysterious Ways.

Move me Spirit move me....help me stop turning my eyes to mere reflections of your love. Make me Know your love, help me show the love....We move through miracle days. Above all, we do...Miracle days.

Author: Bill Flanagan in U2: The Complete Songs

Note: This book contains all U2 songs with words and even music, I think, up to POP. I saw it at my local Borders but when I went back, it was gone. Costs a hefty $40 and extremely difficult to find but it looks like it's worth it. This is Flanagan's outstanding introduction.

U2 have been so praised in the last twenty years, they have been the objects of so much acclaim and affection, that it might seem strange to suggest that they have not been given enough credit. But for all the honours directed toward them, U2's place as great songwriters has often been overshadowed by their bigger-than-life image as performers, as record-makers, as a world class rock band.

It's easy to understand why - all those other areas make a big bang. But U2's songwriting is the spine on which all the rest of their accomplishments are hung. Even their most ambitious record productions wouldn't mean much if the songs did not touch people's hearts. The spectacle of Zoo TV and Pop Mart would have been just a trip to the electronic circus if the words and the music being projected were only part of the fireworks.

U2's concerts are celebrations, but they are celebrations that begin in intimacy. It is when you listen alone to "One" or "Running To Stand Still" or "Wake Up Dead Man" that the music gets under your skin and into your blood. You're lying on your bed in the dark, or you're driving a long distance, or you're on the street, isolated in your Walkman when the music really hits you, when the song finds the words you've felt but been unable to speak. The real soul connection is made one-to-one.

At its best, you feel that you've found in the music a voice like your own. It is not a voice you share with your family, your friends, the people you work with. It feels closer than that, and at the same time like it's coming from some place you've never seen. It feels like a secret. Sometimes you feel like you're the only one who really hears the song, like it was written just for you.

Then you go to a concert and - what a wonder- there are thousands of other people who are in on the secret. Thousands of other people have had the same private experience and feel the same way you do. That's why U2 concerts are so celebratory; it's the sound of twenty thousand people realizing at the same time that they are not alone. Bono has talked about that contradiction - he calls it putting private thoughts on a public address system. It's the most powerful, and probably the most valuable, thing a songwritter can do. It is the creation of a community.

U2 are a band in the true sense - four equals who grew up together and share their losses as well as their victories. They share writing credit on almost all their songs. That's fair enough - their songs would sound drastically different if any one of them were not there. Their early songs were written mostly out of jams - Bono, Edge, Adam, and Larry would get in a room and play until something good emerged. When they recognised a strong idea for a song they would follow it until its shape was revealed.

Those first songs, including "Stories For Boys", "Out Of Control", and "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" introduced U2 to the world. When "I Will Follow" began getting college radio play in the States, Edge said, "One good song will do more for your band than two years of gigs." With success the four musicians had the luxury of not living on top of each other, and they began to sometimes write separately or in teams. But even then, the songs were always brought back to the band to play with and shape (or leave alone of that was best for the song) and the credit was shared between the four of them.

It is fair to say that Bono writes most of U2's lyrics, but he does not write them all. Edge has come up with more of U2's signature riffs than any of the other three, but the other three have all written plenty. I've watched U2 compose and record. What surprised me was how they switched roles depending on who was feeling inspired. Listening to a playback, Larry came up with an idea for a new melody and sang it to Bono, who tried it on the track. When Bono left for the night, Edge took over writing lyrics. When Larry left the room, Edge sat down behind the drums and put down a beat for a demo. Adam picked up Edge's guitar and suggested some chords. The four members of U2 have been a band since they were schoolboys; they taught each other to write and play. It is almost impossible for an outsider to tell where one leaves off and the next begins. The songs truly come from all four of them.

What impressed me in watching how U2 write was their willingness to change direction in a moment and follow the music wherever it led them. They could be working on a song for days and have it just about done, when suddenly Adam would try a different bass lick, Larry would switch his drum beat around to go with it, Bono would get an idea for a new lyric and - fast as that - they were gone, the almost finished song abandoned while U2 chased down a new one. I have never seen songwriters less worried about nailing a somg down and being done with it. They seemed to delight in the creation itself, and not worry much about running out of ideas.

Bruce Springsteen once said that the first time he heard U2 playing in a club, he knew they'd fill arenas, because the songs were so big. Those early songs - "I Will Follow", "Gloria" - were very personal but they were personal with their arms wide open. They were the sound of four young men crying out to be heard, to connect, to break through whatever limits they found around them. As their skill grew, the songs continued to reach out - "New Year's Day", "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride" had big themes, big declarations, big ideas. But here is what sometimes gets missed; the more U2 reached out, the more they reached in. They went deep inside themselves to pull out of themselves ideas and emotions that all kinds of people would recognize.

continued on next page...

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