Wednesday, June 13, 2012

U2 - The Soundtrack To my Life

On 28th May, I had the privilege of having my 'U2 Playlist', a regular feature on, published.

If you are not a paid subscriber to you wouldn't have been able to read it, so here it is in full, with comments below it from other subscribers (fondly know as 'Zootops')...


'Soundtrack To My Life.'


'Big John' Noble is one our longstanding Moderators on Zootopia, the boards. A mean bass player and hardcore fan who's been following the band for years, he says they've provided the soundtrack to his life. That's him above when he followed the band to Glastonbury last year - you can follow him on Twitter where he tweets as  @_Bigwave_ .  (Let us know what you think of his playlist in the comments below.)

'Like many, many fans, U2 have provided the soundtrack to my life. Through 30 years or so of mid teenage troubles, though marriage, births, deaths -  good times, great times and awful times too. Life events are sometimes punctuated and stamped with certain songs, many of these being U2 songs. So my U2 playlist  reflects that.

Dipping back and forth, as memories and melodies tend to. Rising high, soaring into the stratosphere and beyond, and down to the depths, almost to even the centre, to the part of the soul that no created thing can ever touch. Almost I say, but I am sure that even on occasion even that part of me has been invaded by the music that this band makes.

It being a Playlist, I would have it on shuffle and instead of trying to figure out which song would work with the next, would simply allow the machine to 'do it's work'.'

Out Of Control - BOY
 As fresh at the performance at Glastonbury as the day it was written. I got big ideas, and I'm out of control.... Yep. And those big ideas, and being out of control can go both ways, good and bad. It calls out to the youth in you, the part that never got broken or totally shackled by all the chains that life can bind you with, often without you even being aware of it.

She's A Mystery To Me
First time I heard this, I had no idea Bono and the boys had written this with Roy Orbison in mind, but instantly I knew they must have. The story of the band meeting Roy and how the song came about is wild... you couldn't dream it up. The song itself and the soaring vocals are so right for Roy. On my playlist it would be an as-yet-uncreated piece that mixed The Big O vocal with Bono's. Can't wait to be at the concert where that hologram performance happens...

'I recall singing it over and over from the first listens to the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album. I believe that Yahweh translates to something like 'the name that cannot be named' and here we have a modern hymn to that spirit. 'Always pain before the child is born', what a lyric. The Catherine Owens animated video for this song is full of wonder and captures the song beautifully.

Brings back memories of the Millennium and dancing around wildly and drunk somewhere in Australia at a party at friends house who had emigrated there. First time I had heard it, and it always makes me want to dance. Such joy. whey-hey hey!

Love the video and intro and chorus. Oh and the verse too. Such a great live song, and reminds me of the whole Vertigo tour imagery and experience.

The lyrics kill me. Another example of how the words in a song can seem to be written just for you. Came after the birth of our first child, who just wouldn't be here without the wonders of the Science/God mix.

Surrender - WAR
From that first listen to the War album. The challenging and threatening concept of 'surrender' as a way of living', seeing it as a strength and not a weakness is a radical way to live your life is suggested to me in this song. Backing vox on chorus, and space, the 'air' in the mix, the room... and Edges' crying, sliding guitar is all over this.

Every live show I have ever been to, this seems to show up. Grace. Intense love of this song born from an early bootleg video of German show that I used to watch over and over, and then of course the legendary Live Aid performance. About giving up, or trying to give up something that is destroying you. The plea to a friend with your every ounce of being to 'let it go'. The definition of universal melancholic terrible beauty.

Sunday Bloody Sunday - WAR
The guitar chops that every kid who ever picked up a guitar can play... sort of. Simple genius. Heavy heavy political power in the lyric, but a politics that takes no sides, no prisoners. Only the side of the angels. Still as powerful live on the last tour as ever. Perhaps even more so. I was stunned every time I heard this on the 360° Tour. Larry hammering that intro skip beat stops me in my tracks.

Da bass is da bomb. sweet and melodious. It travels outside of Karma. We named our first born after this song.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - THE JOSHUA TREE
Just when you think you got it licked... the realisation that the journey is not over.. until it's all over. Like, yep, that's all well and good, we did pretty good... but look at that horizon... it extends. The song that has been handed over for the crowd at a U2 gig to have and hold, to sing. I wonder when Bono lets a crowd own it, and the band falls back and take it down, that maybe they just listen and appreciate the fact they are not the only ones who know there is a long way to go. The hymn that turns a U2 show into Church. Halleluyah!

40 - WAR
Proof, or as close to it I have known, of the existence of something... more,  something higher. A true Psalm of the Ages. The ultimate show-closer and the song that will be on humanities' lips just ahead of the end of the world. (On that bill, Elvis opens, is joined for a few numbers by Roy Orbison... later in the bill Pink Floyd and the Beatles knock out a few tunes too).

 For obvious reasons this always makes me think of the genius that is Willie Williams. And the prospect that sometimes you CAN take on the world... and win.

Running To Stand Still - THE JOSHUA TREE
I first heard this in a 1980's ITV Documentary 'World In Action' on U2. Just blown away by the tale told within the bittersweet lyric and tune. Within it is the thought that even when you have come to the end of the road, a stop, another way is possible. The end is, perhaps, not always the end.  The performance of this song captured in the Zoo TV Live from Sydney show is theatre at its best.

Where The Streets Have No Name - THE JOSHUA TREE
A wonderful song to sing on the old karaoke. I always try to wangle this song into setlist any band I have been in. The bassline is great to play, and singing it really does take me to another place. And yes, I do visualise myself up there on the stage with the lads letting me have a go at this one... an official request :)

With Or Without You - THE JOSHUA TREE
For my mate Dai, I know you are out there somewhere and I think of you whenever I hear this.

Without knowing it I had somehow absorbed this whole song and it came out in full one sunrise overlooking some fields in Norfolk. We was in a band travelling home from a show, with no money and broke down. I was as stoned as a simpleton (ah, the follies of youth), and sang this out to the universe that morning. Or did I just dream it...
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Tasslehofff - 11 June, 2012
Songs that you Can't Leave Behind....
As with the OP I too have had the Boys as soundtrack to part of my life.On my 16th Birthday,I went to my first Big Rock Concert-U2-Zoo TV...Seeing Bono as the Fly...I was hooked. As the times went on I noticed like I think everyone does their own meanings of the songs. Love Rescue Me for example I've listened to many a time as my own personal prayer. And then being in the US we had Sept 11. Earlier that year I had lost my father to cancer and was truly on my own but as I had found The Boys are there...Stuck in a Moment...Walk On..these songs had profound effect during that time. And the closest I would probably get to Bono would be Kite. His father passed that same year and of course they played my city in Nov and I will remember the sorrow in his voice still when we said Kite was for those who've lost someone they didn't want to.His choking when he said Fathers...well it was the most emotional I had been in a public forum in a very long time..Teared up and everything. So hopefully when times get tough there's another song I can take heart and comfort in in the future.
hzham - 10 June, 2012
My Playlist
Another Time, Another place - Tomorrow - Gloria - Like a Song.. - Drowning Man - New Line on the Horizon - Yahweh - Pride - The Unforgettable Fire - Until the end of the World - Ultraviolet - In Gods Country :-)
Bellis1970 - 06 June, 2012
This playlist is just fabulous. Well done.
halo96 - 02 June, 2012
My " Walk up" music
Yes I love baseball and must use a baseball analogy! Just as every ballplayer has a "walk up" song (the song played when they take the mound or step in the batter's box at homegames) so I have a U2 song for all of those life moments as well. Yahweh, 40, Magnificent are there when I need to hold onto my faith, Beautiful Day for sheer joyful occasions, Pride, Walk on, One for inspiration and courage to do the right thing...Vertigo and Get On Your Boots for crazy fun....the list goes on and on...I love you U2 more than u know, u have carried me through darkness and danced with me in light...please don't ever go away!
johnvol - 01 June, 2012
Beautiful Johno
Well done. Let's have a beer.
moguy - 31 May, 2012
a sort of homecoming
This is the song that i miss every concert. It is my u2 live song.every timei hear it i get goosebumps, So Guys when you go on tour (i hope soon)please play a sortofhomecoming!!
musicabona - 31 May, 2012
Noble Playlist!
Dear John, thank you for sharing your choice of great U2 songs and heartfelt descriptions with us! I remember the insightful blogs you posted in Zootopia last year. Since 1989 the music of U2 has accompanied me through all the highs and lows of my life. I agree that Out Of Control still sounds very fresh and vital. Listening to that early track I am always amazed by its raw and direct energy. Yahweh is a gem taking us to a very spiritual place, raising a substantial question all of us might frequently ask: "Why the dark before the dawn?". With Spanish Eyes U2 delivered one of the most passionate b-sides I have ever heard and Miracle Drug is one of those memorable pieces touching my soul through its tenderness and genuine power. In every live show I Still Haven;t Found creates such an intense feeling of enthusiasm that encourages the audience to turn into a huge gospel choir. With its shimmering opening notes, Where The Streets Have No Name makes me lose myself in the beauty of a timeless classic that never ceases to offer countless moments of love and joy.
bigdave82 - 30 May, 2012
My Soundtrack, Too
Great description. Teenage insecurities through the death of my father to the birth of my children, the band have been a constant.
yardie - 30 May, 2012
Fantastic list,Bigwave.
Soundtrack to our lives indeed,Bigwave.All great tracks there with quite a few that would be in my playlist too.'A Sort of Homecoming' is just such a fantastically underrated jewel of a U2 song,so many layers on the album track. Yaweh,great tune,sent that to my sister n law on the birth of her first child a couple of weeks ago,not sure if she took 'always pain before a child is born' in the manner it was I'm off her Christmas card list card list for 2012!
LovetheFly - 30 May, 2012
Such a blessing!
You have certainly captured the heart of so many great U2 treasures. U2 has given me a life-long setlist as well. The beauty and wisdom that is their music has enriched my life and provided me with everything from comfort for an aching soul to delightful rhythms for dancing with joy. I am so thankful for the gift of their music! Such a blessing...
EALS - 30 May, 2012
I have loved U2's music, since I was about 15 (late'82). And admire what they stand for and believe in....but, personally, do not believe in God, Gods, or Goddeses I lean toward the Goddess,though, 'cause the bithces will always win out (said with love) and are hands down the most beautiful, always..."Gloria!"
Hardfelt - 29 May, 2012
What a great playlist and what is even better are your insights and comments. You capture the essence of appreciation of the band. Speechless.
joshthetree - 29 May, 2012
The best
The best play list, nothing else to add =0)
greydogblues - 29 May, 2012
wow, thanks so much for sharing this. it's heartfelt and gives me food for thought, taking me back to the early 80s and my first listen...
Eamon1 - 29 May, 2012
Light my way.
The music of U2 over the years has helped me to try and understand what life is all about. U2 have been my surrogate family helping me through the the roller coaster of life. Every emotion that we can go through is written and coded in the muse of U2. Because in this life, sometimes you cant make it on your own. Thanks lads !
TorreyV - 29 May, 2012
Good on ya mate
Nice list. Your commentary was also spot on. My band does Running to Stand Still and it brings down the house every time.
rolo0526 - 29 May, 2012
Nice list
Glad you added "Grace" in there. My wife and I also named our first born Grace (3-7-12), inspired by the song. What a beautiful, sweet song.
redandwhitepebble - 29 May, 2012
Some great choices their Bigwave.
You brought me to tears with your words on, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. We don't all, always agree on what songs are the best or our favourites. Your choices are from the heart and really that sums up a great U2 set list for me. Sometimes you need to look outside of your usual set list and see it from another point of view to appreciate some of the gems they have written.
mich40 - 29 May, 2012
Nice one
Nice playlist and good to see one that isn't biased towards particular albums (ie Danny Lanois and his albums he worked on). The introduction to the list is spot on for me. U2 has been the soundtrack to my life for 30 years too and I love to hear stories like this.

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