I may have mentioned this once before, but my mom first hit the nail on the head regarding Bono and U2 a few years ago, when the band played the halftime show at the Super Bowl. She called me the day after.
“Jimmy,” as she still calls me, “what do you know about this band U2? Do you like them?”
“They’re OK,” I said. “I like a few of their songs. They’ve been around since I was in high school.”
“Mmm,” she said, noting correctly that she didn’t recall me ever talking about them when I was living at home. “That little singer,” she continued, in this most unexpected telephone chat, “really makes that band. There’s not much to their music, but he works overtime!”
My first thought was, “Jeez, as if enough girls haven’t dug Bono, now my mom’s under his spell too!” As she continued extolling the virtues of “that little singer,” however, the years of hating Bono in his mullet, then ponytail and salt-of-the-earth hat and vests without shirts and those godawful late-’80s efforts to weave his way into the fabric of every strain of American roots music under the sun started to wash away.
After I got off the phone with Bono’s Newest Admirer, I remembered how much I liked the good bits of the band’s first two albums, before the grandstanding of War and the rhythm section’s clear musical limitations began to drive me away; before those serious videos involving ponytails, bare shoulders, and salt-of-the-earth hats put me way over the edge. I pulled out my copy of Achtung Baby, the band’s first attempt at winning back my muted admiration, which I came around to liking during the year my wife and I lived in Hungary. That album gave off a cooler, more UK ’60s vibe that put the band’s sepia-toned Americana wannabe vibe in the rearview mirror—but not out of sight. I still spent more time than any adult should spend cutting up on Bono and his mates. I still found myself watching bits of Rattle and Hum, whenever I came across the movie while flipping channels, just to sharpen my blade. Just thinking of that period of U2 again almost makes me want to take back what I’m about to say. Continue reading »