Author Archive

The Turkish Lady

February 5, 2012 |  by  |  No Particular Song, U2360 Tour  |  2 Comments

At the top of the Rhodes acropolis with a photo of my nana, on a trip I wouldn't have taken had Bono not broken his back in 2010.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday — a day of little present interest but much past significance to me. Of course, in terms of U2 (as most things in my life are), it was 10 years ago today that the band performed at Super Bowl XXXVI. It was the first Super Bowl after 9/11, and U2’s halftime show uplifted a nation still very much in pain and uncertainty. It was a poignant tribute to the lives lost, as well as a sounding bell that it was time to move from mourning to healing.

But, six years ago, on Feb 5, 2006, I watched an even more unforgettable Super Bowl. I can’t tell you which teams played or who performed at halftime, but it was during the game that I learned my grandmother had passed away earlier that day. Nana was a remarkable woman who lived 93 years’ worth of stories that fascinated her grandchildren. She was a Turkish immigrant who came to America at the age of 19, eventually landing in Jacksonville via Ellis Island. I think she headed south as soon as she got here in search of warmer climes — she was born on the island of Kos and grew up on Rhodes, both off the coast of Greece. New York in December probably wasn’t selling her on the States. When Bono (yes, it always comes back to Bono) broke his back in 2010 and U2 postponed their summer U.S. dates for the 360 tour, I took the opportunity to instead travel to Greece and Turkey. My trip included a stop on Rhodes, and while I had no luck in tracking down relatives on the tiny little island, it was exciting simply to walk the same terrain I know she walked. Read More

Here’s to the future

December 31, 2011 |  by  |  U2 Holidays  |  No Comments

Way behind on the blog. (New Year Resolution No. 1: Catch up on blog.) Just a quick post to celebrate the new year, and to celebrate the incredible old year I just had. I took a lot of chances, made a lot of changes, and dreamed up the world I wanted to live in, and much of that revolved around U2. My life is richer and my heart is bigger for the summer I had, the people I met, the songs I heard.

In addition to the obvious song choice, I like to celebrate New Year’s Day with Bono’s speech before I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For from U2’s 1989 concert at The Point Depot on New Year’s Eve in Dublin:

Seeing as it’s New Year’s Day, you probably expect me to get all sentimental, yeah? Well, you’re exactly right. Here’s to the future. The only limits are the limits of our imagination. Dream up the kind of world you want to live in. Dream out loud, at high volume. That’s what we do for a living — lucky bastards!

Happy 2012!

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

November 29, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby  |  No Comments

(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.

Happy birthday, ‘Baby’: Achtung Baby turns 20

November 19, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby  |  2 Comments

Twenty years ago today, on Nov. 19, 1991, Achtung Baby was released. It was my U2 entry point. I knew a few earlier songs from radio play — mostly The Joshua Tree hits of “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” — but U2 was not yet Beth’s Favorite Band. Until late 1991, early 1992. I was 12 going on 13. These were formative years, for the band and for me. A boy I had a crush on was walking in our apartment complex singing “Mysterious Ways,” a song I recognized from the radio.

Johnny, take a dive with your sister in the rain … Read More

For the first time: PopMart Tampa kicks off my addiction to U2 live

November 10, 2011 |  by  |  PopMart, Show Recap  |  1 Comment

I saw U2 live for the first time unos, dos, tres ... catorce! years ago at PopMart Tampa on Nov. 10, 1997.

Fourteen years ago today, I got my first taste of mothersuckin’ rock and roll. (In fact, “Mofo” was the first song I ever saw U2 perform live.) I’d fallen for the band six years earlier, with the release of Achtung Baby, and ZooTV even kicked off in my second hometown of Lakeland, Fla., but I was 13 then and had no idea how big all this really was. I still cry myself to sleep every night over missing that one.

Instead, my U2 concert history started my freshman year of college, with PopMart. I remember buying 1997’s Pop my senior year of high school, after seventh period but before I had to be back to school for a play rehearsal — it was the first U2 album I bought originally as a CD. For a high-school graduation gift, my mom surprised me with four tickets to the show in Tampa on Nov. 10, 1997. My concert-going experiences up to this point included a New Kids on the Block show when I was 11, a slew of country artists (Reba, Garth, et al.) as I went through my hillbilly phase in middle school, and a Phish concert I got dragged to in high school, where I naively asked what that smell was (possible answers: patchouli, body odor, weed). Now I had floor seats to U2, but zero knowledge of the right way to see a show. Read More

Every poet is a thief: Bono channels Rilke in ‘Oh Berlin’

November 1, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby, Influences  |  11 Comments

Bono channels German language poet Rainer Maria Rilke in Oh Berlin.

Every once in a while, a new song just consumes you. With the special 20th anniversary releases of Achtung Baby, U2 have unveiled some gems they’ve been sitting on for two decades, including* the song “Oh Berlin.” I have not come up for air from this track since my first listen two days ago.

I’ve been feverishly doing some quick research to get a basic understanding of the many references in the song — literary, biblical, autobiographical. This is sort of a survey of what I’ve discovered. It doesn’t delve too deep into the works alluded to, but rather slides down the surface of things. I’d like to continue developing it and welcome any additional insights, comments or corrections. So, before you read any further, do this:

Listen to “Oh Berlin” right now.

Read More

Tryin’ to throw your head around a song

October 30, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby, Early Versions  |  1 Comment

I stumbled upon some of my most favorite U2 tracks back in the early aughts, when Napster ruled and music was free and easy and yours for the taking — and I took, because I was a college student and that justified being cheap and breaking the law. These were songs not on the studio albums or singles, and all of a sudden, I had a way to access them. These rarities are what we U2 fans use as a litmus test on other fans we meet. “Dreaming With Tears In My Eyes” and “Slide Away” are like our secret handshake. If you’ve heard these, you’ve proved you’re worth your salt. Read More

The Sweetest Transvestite

October 25, 2011 |  by  |  No Particular Song  |  No Comments

If Danny Lanois and Brian Eno are still trying to think up Halloween costume ideas, I suggest they go as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Riff Raff.

I apologize to the original photographers, to Lanois and Eno, to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, to Photoshop, and to Halloween.

AHK-toong BAY-bi: A dangerous idea that almost makes sense

October 11, 2011 |  by  |  Achtung Baby, Cover Songs  |  2 Comments

Q magazine announced this week that to mark Achtung Baby’s 20th anniversary (Nov. 19), the next issue will feature a cd of the entire album reworked by a range of notable artists. Here’s the AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered track listing:

  • Zoo Station – Nine Inch Nails
  • Even Better Than The Real Thing – U2 (Jacques Lu Cont Mix)
  • One – Damien Rice
  • Until The End Of The World – Patti Smith
  • Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – Garbage
  • So Cruel – Depeche Mode
  • Mysterious Ways – Snow Patrol
  • Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World – The Fray
  • The Fly – Gavin Friday
  • Ultraviolet (Light My Way) – The Killers
  • Acrobat – Glasvegas
  • Love Is Blindness – Jack White

Read More


October 1, 2011 |  by  |  Show Recap, U2360 Tour  |  No Comments

And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care?

And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on
… and on.

Fans can’t resist pushing play on the second song on the second side of U2’s second album as Oct. 1 hits and seems to officially usher in a new season. I dutifully play 1981’s October, and its eponymous track, letting the sound of The Unforgettable Fire, an album that encompasses summer for me, fade out. If time must march on, the beauty of an oncoming fall eases the process. Read More