Songs of Innocence

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost now has been returned
The most beatiful sound I’d ever heard
From U2 “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”

Tuesday evening, along with about a half billion other people, I downloaded the new U2 album Songs of Innocence.

Cherie and I were just about to leave for Raleigh on one of our infrequent “date nights” to go hear Eric Schlosser speak (cause that’s the kind of exciting date we like), when the announcement of the surprise release/giveaway came in.  It takes a long time to download things out here in the land of no highspeed internet, so I didn’t actually get to listen to the record until we got back.

I’ve listened to it a lot since then.  It’s a wonderful album.  It shimmers and soars in ways few records do, and it takes me back to their glorious music of 30 years ago.

I remember a beautiful December night in 1987, white flags waving and thousands of people filing out of Tampa Stadium after the concert singing “How long…to sing this song?”  I’ve been to lots of concerts in my life and the feeling that night was unlike any other.

So is this record just tapping into nostalgia?  I think it’s more than that.

In the early 1970s as I transitioned to my teenage years I heard “Take It Easy” on the radio and I really wanted to be that cool.  But that feeling soon passed. I saw the Eagles play in a stadium many years later and it just wasn’t the same.  Any peaceful easy feeling I had that night was purely nostalgic.  I can’t put myself back into 1972 musically.

But I’d sure like to revisit the feeling of that night in 1987.  It still seems relevant.  It still seems to matter.

I had another musical experience like that about a year later at a club in St. Petersburg in November, 1988.  Also outside on a gorgeous Florida evening, but in a much smaller venue, I saw the Ramones, my musical heroes, rip through a thrilling set of music.  It turned out to be the only time I ever saw them in concert.

The Ramones are all gone now, even as U2 soldiers on as rock and roll superstars.  Maybe I’ll have another concert experience with U2.  But it won’t ever happen with the Ramones.

When I saw the title of the first song on this record I was worried that it might be disappointing, even as I was happy to see Joey joined in some way to U2.  Fortunately the song didn’t disappoint and I’ve played it at least 20 times.

When Joey was dying of cancer Bono visited him in his hospital room and sang for him.  Joey not only influenced the young Bono artistically, he later became his friend.

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
I get so many things I don’t deserve
All the stolen voices will someday be returned
The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard

I believe that too.