From Achtung Baby to AHK-toong BAY-bi.

I grew up in a home where the music played was mostly “classic” rock — The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones on the one hand, and the classics — Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Bach, and so on, on the other.

Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop, between ’91 and ’97 marked U2’s post-Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum innocence music. Idealism and the pure string-tones gave way to existential angst, self-indulgent narcissism and grandiosity and their experiements with dance and generally more expansive sounds.

I was 6 when Achtung Baby came out, and U2 were my first “own” favorite band then. So it’s totally awesome that Q-Magazine are doing an anniversary album of some other epic bands covering Achtung Baby.

Love all the tracks, my favorites though have to be Zoo Station, So Cruel, Mysterious Ways, Ultra Violet, Tryin’ to throw your arms around the World, Until the end of the World, and Love is blindness, in that order. (It’s *really* hard to decide. :))


Zoo Station, Nine Inch Nails



Even better than the real thing, Jacques Lu Cont



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



Tryin’ to throw your arms around the World, The Fray



The Fly, Gavin Friday



Ultra Violet (Light my way), The Killers



Acrobat, Glasvegas



Love is blindness, Jack White


the existentialist’s burden

I must confess, that U2’s Pop album has always been my favorite. It had the panache of Achtung Baby and Zooropa, tempered with the memory of the innocence of The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum. Pop was genius, it was also a spectacular show.

The fault lines of the self, only glimpsed in early U2 were laid bare in Pop. It was an almost Nietzschean rejection of all that came before, and in that sense, probably a catharsis that the late ’90s demanded, before they rebooted, with All that you can’t leave behind and How to dismantle an atomic bomb.

Within that record, Please has always been my favorite. I like to call it the existentialist’s burden. How does one become an existentialist? Most of us are engendered into some religious way of thinking, long before we ever engage with Sartre or Camus or Heidegger or Kierkegaard. Please raises an interesting question, in that; whether you take Camus’ endless dances of master-slave relationships, or go back to Nietzsche’s unflinching embrace of life; you more-or-less do away with the notion of ‘faith’. The Lion of “I Will” defying the Dragon of “thou shalt”. Love on the other hand, is best explained with a grounding in faith of some form, faith being integral to its constitution. On the one hand, Camus didn’t see a problem with it; on the other, Sartre did, and went along a rather destructive path of the unflinching deconstruction of the various forms of it.

Nothing profound, just an observation.


Please, U2, Live at Rotterdam


Please stop fighting, please

Let’s talk, please

So you never knew love

Until you’d crossed the line of grace

And you never felt wanted

Till you’d someone slap your face

And you never felt alive

Until you’d almost wasted away

You had to win, you couldn’t just pass

The smartest ass at the top of the class

Your flying colours, your family tree

And all your lessons in history

Please, please, please

Get up off your knees now

Please, please, please Leave it out

So you never knew how low you’d stoop

To make that call

And you never knew what was on the ground

Until they made you crawl

So you never knew

that the heaven you keep You stole

Your Catholic blues,

your convent shoes

Your stick-on tattoos,

now they’re making the news

Your holy war,

your northern star

Your sermon on the mount

from the boot of your car

Please, please, please

Get up off your knees now

Please, please, please

Leave it out

‘Cause love is big and love is tough

But love is not what you’re thinking of

September, streets capsizing

Spilling over and down the drain

Shards of glass, splinters like rain

But you could only feel your own pain

October, talk getting nowhere

November, December Remember,

are we just starting again

Please, please, please

Get up off your knees now

Please, please

‘Cause love is big, it’s bigger than us

But love is not what you’re thinking of

It’s what lovers deal,

it’s what lovers steal

You know I found it hard to recieve

‘Cause you,

my love,

I could never believe

Please, please, please

Get up off your knees now

Please, please, please Please, please, please Please

from father to son

stumbled across a live version of Dirty DayIt got me thinking of the progression of U2’s music. I don’t come from the Joshua Tree generation. My first introduction to U2 was the audacity and spectacle of Zoo TV and PopMart. Then you track back to Achtung Baby and Rattle and Hum, before you get to The Joshua Tree.The idealism of The Joshua Tree seems to have been transcended, hardened (from “I’ll see you again, when the stars fall from the sky”; to “Still lookin’ for the face I had before the World was made”), melted away, and replaced with a (dual) infusion of pragmatism and despair (from One, to Gone) on the one hand, to the absurdism of Dirty Day, Mofo, or Lemon.The progression from Achtung Baby, to Zooropa, to Pop seems to be that of the development of the son into the father, while still trying to remain the son. Neither here nor there, but with the burden of both roles.