You gotta cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice
And write without giving too much of yourself away.
The upside of running a crappy blog on a dark corner of the Internet is that I have that little privilege called time. I write when I feel like it really, when I manage to sort out those thoughts, when the words decide to come out. Sometimes, it takes a few minutes, others take a bit longer and some, well, probably a lifetime.
This was supposed to be a post about Bono’s Christmas eve busk, but ha, somehow, it turned into a lot more. I know, I know it’s been almost a month now, but I’ve just told you the main reason for the delay – or you can just call me a lazy fck, because both are probably true.
Anyways. Promised you yet another ride to the wonky side of my mind, so time for some ramblings about music guys.
Ha. Is it ever anything else really?
What’s your favorite U2 song?
That’s probably the question that you hear the most after the ‘Oh, you’re a U2 fan then?’
Everybody wants to know. Friends, family, strangers. And hell, it’s one scary question to answer to be honest, because with the right crowd, it says a lot about you – so much more than you can imagine.
Your favourite song defines you in the eyes of others. Especially the ones who know enough about the band and their songs. It’s not just about musical tastes, far from it. With a band like U2, it gives away a part of yourself really.
Am I saying a lot of shit?
That was rhetorical guys, not cool.
Well then, smartarses, tell me that as U2 fans your mind doesn’t automatically associate songs with some wild guesses about personal history?
When someone tells you their favorite song is ‘Kite’ or ‘Sometimes you can’t make it on your own’ – or like *insert dozens and dozens of songs here* – you get to peek into that person’s soul and heart really, because as a fan, you know too well it’s not just music.
Of course I am. That’s my superpower.
So yeah, when people ask me what’s my favorite song, it makes me uncomfortable. For the very simple reason that from where I stand, it’s way too personal. Hell, it’s almost intimate.
Your favorite song belongs in that mental drawer where you keep your pains and failures, the stupid things that make you happy that no one else will get, your secret crushes, your unpopular fav pizza toppings or the best fuck you ever had. It is NOT to be discussed on the freaking internet.
And that’s the very reason why for a long time, I had two separate top 3 U2 songs – because yeah, one is not enough, why not just rip all those buttons off at once and stare at the big void in your heart right, jeez – the official mask you put on and the unofficial truth you don’t want to discuss randomly.
And there I was, very happy with my little trick that had been working all these years, when SOMEONE decided to open the damn gates and let the word out that it was all bullshit. SOMEONE who apparently thought it was time to face our truths. SOMEONE who dropped the mask and put genuine honesty first. No secrets hiding between the lines, no double meanings, no overthinking – just a few words we’ve all thought before and were just waiting to be said – Your song saved my life.
Hell U2. There you go, turning everything upside down again. What a mess. Ha.
I’ve already rambled enough about those words before they released the song and how easily those guys can make me question everything, so I won’t get back to that. It’s a real curse, or a blessing. Depends how far you are in the reflection and what version of yourself you’re aiming to see mirrored inside your mind.
That song, guys, I swear it’s been running on loop in the back of my head since it was released. And I was not even aware it was. The rhythm of my soul… the rhythm of my unconsciousness…. Yeah, something like that. Just stuck in the background. I kept going back to it, humming it – I can’t sing but I’ve got soul, but trust me you don’t wanna hear that one either – letting it actively work on some of those quirky brain cells of mine and processing something.
Processing that song that saved my life. Processing what I called my favourite U2 song for over 20 years. Processing that it was… all bullshit – at least for me. And maybe, just maybe, for all the people who ever told me how hard it is for them to hear their ‘favourite’ song.
And that’s when it hit me. Your favourite song has nothing to do with the song that saved your life. It’s two completely different matters. How can a song be your favorite if you can’t even listen to it? How can a song be your favourite when you hit skip every time it comes up on shuffle? How can you love it more than any other songs when you’re dreading to even hear it?
It’s not your favourite song guys.
It’s just your most important one.
You’re a U2 fan, you’re a music fan, so you know how this works. Those words, those songs, those stories told by lyrics and sounds become entangled with your own life and experiences. Larry was dead on – It’s a musical journey. And I’m not talking about your Air miles credit, or the number of times your heart was stolen at that travellin’ show, not even that part of your phone contacts that you reach out to once every 5 years or so, eager to reconnect before the next best days of our lives (tour). Ha. Is it part of it ? Obviously. That’s the life of a U2 fan, always on the road, always following – the bunch of dedicated crazies or pilgrims on their way – depending on where you’re standing.
I’m talking about that inner journey and how those tunes work as some kind of auditory windows in the past skies bringing back to life feelings, moments, and of course memories at the very first guitar chord.
Oh. There she goes again. Stop snorting that coffee Jo.
For the last time, I may not be making much sense (ever) but I don’t do drugs. I’m a U2 fan, I’m naturally high, thank you very much.
I don’t know if people can truly change, but they can definitely grow and these songs become a part of your very own musical journey and some just trigger those immediate responses of joy and pain, of rage and hope. So far, so good right?
But what happens when they’re linked to something bigger, a feeling so strong that you lose touch with it. Something so powerfully intricate in your subconscious that it feels like there’s no way you can ever change the way it makes you feel ?
Let me take one simple example that will make sense to all of you.
That intro instantly spurs that joyous feeling we all know, that feeling deeply rooted in your heart and mind, and all the way to your damn bones. The urge to bounce gets you wherever, whenever, whoever is around, there’s no escaping it. And why is that ? Because it sends you right back to that place, to that red light, you and your tribe losing your shit at this communion. Because Streets is mostly that – unity. Perfect unity with a million friends, your band, the music, the damn moon and stars if you ask me. So yeah, basically a trigger to that one specific emotion right?
But what happens when it triggers pain ? Grief ? Trauma ?
What do you do when a song sends you back to some dark place ?
Does it become just one of those songs you go back to when you need a good cathartic cry ?
Do you just stop listening to it forever ?
Give up on it altogether ?
I mean that’s the pretty easy answer right ?
Why inflict that on yourself ?
It’s not fair to you, not fair to that song nor to this band. You love that song even when you hate it and it deserves more. They deserve more.
You’ll never undo that special bond with it. So what can you do about it?
I’ll tell you what.
You create better memories with it.
The only baggage you can’t leave behind… There’s always extra space in that one even if it doesn’t look like it. No end to love, right? So sort out your mess and stuff those damn happy memories in there because guess what, your baggage, your choice.
Luckily for us, that band we’re all crazy about has been around for long enough to produce some extra content for that. You can give up on a song alright, but thank fuck they won’t – unless it’s Pop, then well, good luck.
Anyways. That’s what happened with Bono’s busking this year – I know, finally getting there. It will make sense though I swear.. or probably not. Hmpf.
So ! Bono. Him. He literally went all ‘Take a sad song (for you) and make it better.’ And you want to know the craziest part?
Running To Stand Still has always been that one special song for me, throughout the years, popping up on my own timeline at those key moments in life – it’s creepy as fck too I won’t lie – but yeah. The most important one – for reasons you either know already, or don’t need to know about, again, the mental drawer privilege.
That one song that almost feels like it’s following you around, that song that became just as much a part of you than it was a part of them. And that’s what I’ll always call a great song really, when you can make it your own. Different times, different reasons, different stories but yet it doesn’t make those feelings any less true.
Back to the Busk.
Long story short, I’m not much of a Christmas fan, and more often than not the annual busk on Grafton Street is the highlight of the never ending Christmas eve hell. So when I heard that Bono had picked that song this year… it didn’t go very well for me.
I’ve been telling myself and pretty much everyone willing to hear my shit that I was more than okay with Running To Stand Still now.
‘Nah. I made my peace with that song.’
‘Meh, I don’t need it anymore’.
‘No for real, I’m past it.’
Hmm. EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS WRONG because…
All of the above
Reading that news just filled me with that undescriptable sadness. Christmas was already fucked but that was just the cherry on top. That one song. That ONE song. Gosh. I was mad. I was sad. I was in complete denial of everything I was feeling to be honest. So much for being over it eh.
Aaaand right back to the usual behaviour when it comes to dealing with that tune. I started panicking, dreading it and obviously tried to convince myself – badly – that I would just skip the whole thing because of it even though ‘let christmas be rescued by the Irish’ is my favourite holiday tradition. The whole damn process again – denial, anger, bargaining, depression… Blah blah fucking blah, you know the one.
I’m absolutely terrible at facing myself when it comes to this band. If it’s me vs U2, they always win. Give me a chance lads, come on.
Of course, I miserably failed – again – and tuned in. And the reason I usually fall for it is because they never let me down no matter what. A leap of faith with a safety net – is it still a leap of faith though? Hmm. Come back later brain, sush now.
And the unexpected happened as expected.
Nothing went as planned.
The music started, those first notes hit and…
No ugly sobbing, no hiding my face away in my hoodie to cry a river, no heartache that tears you apart, not even that anxiety that seems to shackle your whole body.
That performance must have been really shit then?
Nah. The exact opposite actually.
That performance was probably the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen – I’m biased but I don’t care. The beauty of it. That setting. That voice. Those whispers. A sense of artistry that is only outperformed by an open heart, creating a place that is not a place – but a feeling where you can finally belong.
And just like that it became bigger than the past. Bigger than my stupid brain. Bigger than me. Bigger than anything (in its way).
I just stare in complete awe at my screen in disbelief, as that man, once more, rescued a lot more than Christmas. That song most definitely saved my life, and it will always be the most important song, but something I never thought possible happened that night.
He saved that song for me, he saved ‘my’ song. Turning the usual waves of sorrow into waves of love and letting the kiddo in me that used to hold onto that tune for dear life, finally realise for the first time in almost 3 decades that it was safe to unclenched my grasp and let go of it, because that song, that man, that band, had actually been carrying me all along.
Still running… Ha. Funny that we always tend to focus on that part when maybe the most important bit is that we’re still standing.
And that’s the feeling that took over.
I’m not sure what to call it really. But it did.
And ultimately, when you embrace that emotion over the rest, that’s maybe when a song truly saves your life – on that very moment when you realise you don’t need saving anymore.
You always aim for perfection Bono. And that was – at least for me – as perfect as it gets.
Gosh. An awful lot of rambling just to say really,
Thanks for the rescue.
Until next time.