A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 320: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For



My apologies – I had to get that off my chest. In the past few years it has become en vogue to hate on the world’s most famous Irish lads. Somehow it seems you get hipster cred by trashing them. I’m not sure where this came from exactly. Certainly, people must have their reasons beyond the fact that they are massively successful (though oftentimes that’s enough to get you hated in today’s celebrity landscape). However, for me, any band that inspired a gospel choir to cover one of their songs most definitely does NOT suck.

This week I’ve been considering the bands and music that had a huge and lasting impact on me in my formative years in the 1980’s. I would be a dirty rotten lying liar if I did not include U2 in that list. For me, the albums they made in the mid to late ’80’s are a crucial part of my personal soundtrack. As is often noted about that time period, there was a lot of vacuous pop music on the radio as well as banal and uninspiring rock n roll. Many of us turned to music from other eras (particularly the ’60’s) to find something of substance. U2 was an ’80’s band unafraid to venture into those 60’s-era waters of non-ironic, life-affirming, justice-seeking, peace-love-and-rattle-and-hum musical territory. And I, for one, loved them for that.

Sure, Bono can be annoying. He also comes across as a decent human being in an environment full of a hell of a lot of indecency. Maybe it’s time to cut him some slack. And the band as a whole? They’ve been together for about 40 years – FORTY! Don’t you think there must be something real there that keeps them together doing what they do for so long?

Haters gonna hate, but U2 ain’t going nowhere.

In the late 1980’s I was a twenty-something guy who believed in big things, in ideals, in a God who loves people and wants justice to win the day. In U2 I found a band that echoed my inner life and lived it out on radio stations everywhere. Around that time I also had one of the greatest musical experiences of my life: I was part of a Gospel choir. It was like tasting a slice of heaven to be involved in that kind of powerful joining of voices, singing alongside men and women of so many different ethnic backgrounds, swept along in song in praise to Someone all about the big things, the high ideals, love, justice, mercy, forgiveness, grace. Imagine, then, how it hit me to hear a Gospel choir cover the U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For”? Well, for me, almost 30 years after hearing it for the first time on their album Rattle and Hum, the chills continue and will likely continue for the rest of my life.

Here is that live performance that was included on the album. The video quality is poor but the song itself is about as perfect as you can get this side of heaven. Enjoy.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 318: Once in a Lifetime

talking heads

I blame “Stranger Things 2” for getting me into an ’80’s frame of mind. The second season is supposed to take place in 1984, the year I graduated from high school. So Steve and Nancy would be my classmates. Jonathan would likely have been my best friend.  We would hang out together and play bizarre records for each other.

Speaking of bizarre, Talking Heads were a band that dominated my imagination and tantalized me with confusing lyrics and white-boy-funky music when I was a teenager/20-something. They created their greatest songs and albums in the 1980’s. Long before Paul Simon had introduced the world to African musical forms, Talking Heads were experimenting with what would come to be called “World Beat” music. Their album Remain in Light is a masterful concoction of primeval rhythms and cryptic words.

To me, the quintessential Talking Heads song is found on this album: “Once in a Lifetime” – Danceable, weird, totally different than anything else on the radio at the time, it contains everything that made me love these odd intellectual rockers. Here is the full length version of the song with David Byrne being David Byrne in the obtuse and ultimately satisfying and funny video. Enjoy.