Learning how to walk

Paul Hewson (also known as Bono) turns 50 today. This is hard to believe – not only because it means that U2 has been around for 30 years, but also because…Bono doesn’t seem 50. He doesn’t act 50. He doesn’t act 40. He still has the energy of a 25 year old, and the dreams and  ambition of a wide-eyed kid.

I could write a lot about what U2 and Bono have meant to me over the years. (Actually, wait, I have) I’ve loved them since I was 12, and will love them forever.  But I’m not the only one. U2 has meant many different things to many people. For me, they are the closest thing I have to religion. Seeing them live is like going to church. It fills me up, it makes me feel good about myself and the world, gives me faith in people. (I know, that’s weird. Unless you’ve seen them live. Then you know.)

I have lots of memories of U2 over the years – seeing them right after September 11th, seeing them live for the first time at Popmart, when my Mom thought the song was “Angel with a Hard On” instead of “Angel of Harlem,” watching Bono break down after singing “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”. But what really sticks out (and I’m actually getting teary writing this) is when I first heard the album All That  You Can’t Leave Behind and the song “Walk On.” I was a sophomore in college, and very unhappy. I didn’t know why I was so sad, and felt like no one understood how I was feeling. How could they, if I didn’t even know?

I walked down to the local record store at midnight the eve of the release, stood outside with the few other devotees, and purchased the album. Got back to my room, popped it in my computer, and started listening. By the time “Walk On” came up (the fourth track), I was already in love. And then, Bono started singing about the daylight being a long way off, and what I got no one can steal, and how I just have keep walking, keep breathing, keep being.  He understood. No one else understood, but somehow, Bono did.

Flash forward a year. I’m home for the summer, after leaving school the winter before. In a few months, I’ll go to Illinois and have some of the happiest years of my life. I’ll learn how to make movies while also making lifelong friends. But first, I saw U2 live for the second time, with my best friend, Jenn. We sat in the second tier, and at the end of the show, Edge played the familiar opening notes to “Walk On.” I took a breath. Jenn looked over at me, and silently took my hand. She didn’t let go until the song was over.

Happy birthday, Bono.

You’re safe, Bono

Over the weekend I saw a U2 tribute band in Baltimore.  A friend of mine suggested it, and the last time I saw a U2 tribute band, it was fantastic. So, sure, why not, I thought.

This was…interesting. Let’s start with the look. While “Bono” looked a great deal like Bono, the rest of the members didn’t measure up. “The Edge” looked more like Puffy Edge, “Adam Clayton” looked like Elton John (as pointed out by my friend in the middle of the show, which caused me to giggle for the rest of the night), and “Larry Mullen Jr” – he actually did the best job impersonating, and stayed behind the drums with his head down, so it was hard to see what he looked like.

The show itself: Well, the guys are definitely talented. They can play their instruments very well (“The Edge” in particular), and have obviously been at this a long time. The problem: They’re not U2. Of course. But, see here’s the thing about u2, and Bono in particular: Bono is the only one who can be Bono and get away with it. And the only the band can get away with being the band. Anyone who has seen U2 live knows what I am talking about. In the heat of performing, Bono sometimes gets swept up and does these little moves that are totally lame, but he pulls them off. Because he’s motherfuckin’ Bono. Anyone else? Not so much.

The other problem I had is the fact that they kept on going in and out of character. The show started off with everyone in character. A few songs went by, and they broke the fourth wall. “Bono” spoke in his non-Bono voice, “The Edge” started taking over as leader of the pack, and they started asking for requests. All that is fine and good, but I was expecting to basically see a recreation of U2’s current tour. So, they kind of went back and forth between “tribute” band and “cover” band. Pick a side, gents. We’re at war.

Now, my standards are very high. As most of you know, U2 is my favorite band ever. Times 1,000. I’ve loved them since I was 12. I have a U2 tattoo. Seeing them live is my version of a spiritual experience.

The other disadvantage is my only other experience at a U2 tribute band was phenomenal. Different band, for starters. The show was outside in a much smaller venue, making it more intimate. It was my first year in Illinois, and U2 was in the middle of their Elevation Tour (which, for the record, was amazing, and probably  my best concert experience ever). The band remained in character for the entire show, and all us college kids went nuts for them. Of course, nostalgia sometimes paints things in a different light, so maybe they were terrible and I remember it differently.  I did end up getting (cover your eyes, family) completely drunk. So, my memory *could* be skewed. What I recall most about that show, though, is the band captured not only the spirit of U2, but also, their energy level. You could all four men loved their job.

All in all, it was a good in Baltimore. No, they were not U2 — no one is — but it was a great people-watching experience, and I did get to hear some tunes I hadn’t in a long time.

A funny anecdote from the evening: My friend and I were taking a water break and watching the band on monitors over at the bar, when they played “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On  Your Own.” I turned to my friend and told him that song breaks my heart, because Bono wrote it about his father shortly after his father passed away. The first time I saw him sing it, he broke down a bit after, and told a lovely story about his father and Edge’s father.  The tribute band  finished the song, and “Bono” said, “That’s a lovely song, written for Mr. Bobby Hewson.” I said, “See? Bobby Hewson, that’s Bono’s dad.” And my friend goes, “You mean, his name isn’t Mr. Bono?” Me being in the crazy walking encyclopedia of U2 knowledge state that I sometimes fall into, said, “No. Bono isn’t his real name. It’s Paul. Hewson is his last name. Bono is just a nickna-…oh, you’re teasing me, aren’t you?”

Yeah, I can get a little obsessed. You really don’t want to unleash my inner U2 fan. It trumps the other crazy Gilmore/Buffy/Frasier fangirl in me.

And, for the record, neither group ever did anything that even compares to this. It is, in my humble opinion, the best performance Bono has ever given. (Again – Idol contestants: Watch and learn.)

Lorelai (Inspired) Music

In my last post, I mentioned one of the reasons I started craving Gilmore was from listening to a mix I made a few years back. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve listened to it at least once a day. It’s pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

When I first put the mix together, I had an explanation for every song. Now that it’s been a few years, I don’t remember my exact reasoning for all of them. (Or, in some cases I do, but my reasons are way too dorky, even for this blog.) Explanations will be given when appropriate. The theme is music inspired by Lorelai Gilmore, so sometimes, I just think – were she real, she’d dig the song.

Without further adieu: Lorelai (Inspired) Music Continue reading

Just what are you saying, Mr. Joel?

Every time I hear the song This Night by Billy Joel*, I think to myself, “This would make an excellent wedding song.” I picture a couple dancing (maybe me, maybe not), enjoying the intimate moment on the dance floor, celebrating their first night as a married couple. It’s perfect.

Or is it?

Because the song could also just be about having sex. I mean, think about it: “Tomorrow is such a long time away, this night we are together.”

It could also be the anthem for a stalker. “This night, you’re mine. It’s only you and I.” Taken in that context, it’s kinda creepy.

I’d like to think that Billy Joel wrote the song with good intentions, and he probably did. But still…could I have been fooled all these years? Could This Night be akin to The Police’s Every Breath You Take?

Creepy or not, it’s still a great song, and one of my favorite from the Joel catalogue. (Second only to [obviously] Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Summer Highland Falls, and possibly Vienna.)

Give a listen: What do you think? Safe for a wedding, or would we creep everyone out?

*Yes, that’s right, Internet. I am coming out as a Billy Joel fan. I grew up listening to him on car trips and family vacations. He’s like home.

K-E-L-L-Y: The best musical moments on TV

Lists, lists, we got yer lists here!

I don’t know why I am constantly making up pointless lists about TV in my head. That’s just me.  And yes, I’ve done it again. After the Glee album was released a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my favorite Glee moments, which led to thinking about my favorite TV musical moments. That led to me making a list of said favorites, which brings us here.

Before I begin, a few things: First, I’ve not seen every show out there. These are just some of my favorite moments. I know, for instance, that Ally McBeal was chock-full of musical performances. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it. Ditto for the first four seasons of American Idol. Second, by musical moments, I do not mean montages. I mean characters actually singing, or music being used effectively in a scene. (But there are a few exceptions for truly outstanding montages that could not be ignored.) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a musical montage. But the list is long enough already; if I included every musical montage I loved, I’d be writing this entry forever.

Ready? Okay, here we go, in no particular order. Continue reading