Cover boy with natural grace: Q Magazine’s December issue celebrates U2

November 29, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby

(The headline quotes ‘Babyface’ (Zooropa, 1993). Bethandbono trivia/dirty little secret: It’s the one U2 song I don’t like.)

The December 2011 issue of Q Magazine has finally hit newsstands in the United States, but without the Ahk-Toong Bay-Bi Covered CD, to many U2 fans’ disappointment. But, the CD is available in its entirety on iTunes ($7.99 US), with proceeds benefiting Concern Worldwide’s work in famine-stricken areas of East Africa. The issue celebrates U2 as the greatest act of the last 25 years (as voted by the readers of Q) and coincides with the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby’s release.

It appears that three versions of the magazine are in circulation. Q subscribers got the cover with a close-up of a wild-eyed Bono while non-subscribers got the cover with all four band members, three of whom are hiding behind the flap that hosts the CD. The version showing up Stateside has the same full-band cover, sans the CD flap. It became a little obsessive-compulsive scavenger hunt for me to get my hands on one of each, but I succeeded. I’ve compiled the three covers, as well as any U2-related pages in the issue (including a series of quarter-page ads for the deluxe re-releases), into a PDF (about 8 MB): U2 in Q Magazine, December 2011. It’s pretty low-res. Go grab a copy before they disappear from the racks.

I love the group cover. Mostly because I’m convinced the way Bono was photographed by John Wright for Q is a deliberate homage to the Rolling Stone cover (March 4, 1993) that defined The Fly era, photographed by Andrew McPherson in 1992. Bono reinvents his look regularly. And guyliner phase excepting, I’m a fan of all his iterations. But the 1993 Rolling Stone cover boy is quintessential Bono for me. I stared at that cover a lot when I bought the magazine in ’93. I (stupidly) hacked it up and stuffed Rolling Stone’s once-luxuriously oversized cover into an 8″ x 10″ frame and took Bono off to college with me in 1997. Each May 10, the cover makes an appearance as my profile photo on Facebook to honor the birthday boy. I own two of the $5 WalMart bags that feature the cover, one for use and one that stays in the touch-and-die drawer. And as of today’s mail delivery, I’m an owner once again of the original magazine, thanks to some eBay auction sniping.

It could be accidental. Shades plus earrings plus oozing sexiness are standard Bono-cover-photo fare. But the shades are darker and more Fly-like than what he’s been wearing on tour and at appearances lately. And the slight head cock to the right along with his pulling down his collar to reveal a cozy little patch of chest hair, and his gorgeous-even-if-they’re-dyed locks especially moussed up to resemble that jet-black pompadour … It’s all alluding to the iconic Rolling Stone cover, which celebrated U2 as artist of the year then. Two decades later, Q’s justly celebrating them as artist of the last quarter century.

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