I was talking with a friend the other day about how beautiful this song is and thought I’d give it a shot. I put it in a quiet singing key to keep it from going in any of our neighbors’ ear holes.
This continues a bout of U2 re-reckoning for me. There was a period where U2 (and Bono in particular) got to be a pretty convenient and irresistible punching bag for a lot of snobs like myself. But watching David Letterman’s unabashed joy at getting to hang out with them and watch them be (almost) normal human beings in Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with David Letterman left me almost as awestruck as I was when I first heard them on a late night college radio broadcast at the tender age of 13. I actually knew who it was before the DJ back-announced “I Will Follow,” based on the powerful descriptions of their sound I’d read in music mags for free at the grocery store while my mother shopped.
Nothing has really ever sounded the same since. No one really sounds like U2, yet their influence is baked into most modern rock music. Even when people deny it, I think it’s there. They fundamentally changed people’s perceptions of what a guitar-based rock band can sound like. Which would have made them an important band even if they had chucked their instruments into the River Liffey after their first few records. But they didn’t. They stuck together for fifty-plus years and now they’re an institution with virtually no peers. And like a lot of institutions, they’re easy to take for granted. That’s probably why they get so many punches thrown their way. Institutions get to be institutions by proving year after year that they’re able to withstand the slings and arrows of cruel criticism alongside self-inflicted missteps and embarrassments, yet still retain appreciable value.
“One” (U2 cover)
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