Forever ago I dated a boyman who was a huge fan of U2. It was in the 80s, before they sold out. We bonded over our mutual depression, which I guess I thought was daringly honest. We listened to U2’s album War together many times. We loved “Bad,” and sometimes I would say it was our song. He would say it couldn’t be our song because it was too depressing and he’d heard it was about a girl who was addicted to heroin. I didn’t see why that was a reason, and to this day that song reminds me of him, thirty years after I couldn’t continue to live in the cage that was his world, and broke up with him. Thirty years after he finally succeeded in killing himself.
When I think about it now, it seems more than ever like the perfect song for the relationship we had. If I could, through myself, set your spirit free, I’d lead your heart away, see you break, break away, into the light . . .
This week I saw a video of Bono and The Edge playing in a subway station in Berlin. And I could totally see that nineteen-year-old boyman loving that coat Bono is wearing. He actually wore his hair kind of like Bono’s in this video. And I’d never heard the song they’re singing, but the chorus is Get out of your own way . . . nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside. I could help you but it’s your fight. And oh my. It’s so what Richard needed to hear. I may have said something like that to him back then, who knows, but not with the conviction of having lived half a century and solved problems and lived through failures and gone on. But if Bono had said those words then, maybe Richard would’ve listened.
Anyway, I don’t really think U2 ever sold out. I’m not looking for reasons to judge anyone anymore. They did what they did for reasons that are not mine. I admire the longevity of their career and their commitment to helping people in need, and they’re still around and writing new songs that can move me.