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.

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10 comments on “Songs of Innocence

  1. Steve says:

    Gabba gabba hey! Nice post.

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  2. DM says:

    U2 remains my all time favorite group to this day. You are ahead of me on the learning curve…have never downloaded anything..(unless you call direct streaming from Amazon prime downloading) . ps we went on a date this past Wednesday night…heard a guest author @ the local library promoting her new book about Prohibition in Iowa. Home by 7:30. Good post!

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    • Bill says:

      If you have iTunes on your computer (a free program from Apple) you can download the record for free–at least for a little while. It took me a while to come around to getting music this way, but it’s easy.

      As for your trip to the library, that sounds exactly like the kind of date night we like. 🙂

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, the older I get the more nostalgia creeps into my thoughts. Fortunately, my life is filled with awesome defining moments that brings euphoric feelings back when I think about them. My favorite radio station is one that plays 1960s rock and roll music. The ’60s was a great time to be growing up. Being a part of the boomer generation had it’s perks that’s for sure. It’s interesting how a song, a smell, or a some other little thing can transport us back in time. Being fresh in my mind with my grandson leaving, many things trigger memories of he and I doing certain things or me having to buy certain foods that he liked. Life is a journey and we can’t go back but only build memories today that will be a nostalgic memory in the future.

    Have a great U2 listening day.

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  4. bobraxton says:

    the voice(s)

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  5. shoreacres says:

    It’s really interesting, the way music defines generations.It wasn’t until I started blogging that I heard of the Ramones. It wasn’t until a year ago or so that I made the effort to listen to one of their songs. And believe it or not, I couldn’t name a single song by U2 after reading this post. I had to go to YouTube first. Then, I recognized a few.

    Me? Clapton. Dire Straits. Seger. Fleetwood Mac. It was the 70s, and those are the ones I pull out for pure feel-good nostalgia. Otherwise, it’s bluegrass, blues, reggae. Marley, Kottke, Grisman. Maybe I do need an ipod, so I can put all my favs in one place!

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    • Bill says:

      The Ramones are U2 are very different of course. With their music the Ramones seemed to be telling the music world to lighten up; stop taking yourself so seriously and just have some fun. One story goes that they wanted to play Beach Boys songs, but they were too difficult to learn so they had to write their own. Meanwhile U2 seemed to be telling the music world to take itself more seriously, to allow music to speak to things that matter in the world, and with an overt spirituality that set them apart from the MTV superstars of that day.

      The Ramones opened that show in 1988 with “Teenage Lotobomy” and closed it with “We’re a Happy Family,” a goofy song about a comically dysfunctional family. U2 opened with “Where the Streets Have No Name” and closed the show with “40,” their adaption of Psalm 40. Completely different vibes, but both nights I hope I don’t ever forget.

      I enjoy lots of different kinds of music and my ipod is crammed with thousands of songs. I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately. Well, at least I was until the new U2 record came out. 🙂

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