Last With Me Through The Night
This week, U2 X-Radio, the all-U2 channel, opened for listeners in North America.
Tassoula Kokkoris was listening around the clock.
'We all had predictions about what song would launch the new U2 X Radio Channel on Sirius XM. "Out of Control," "I Will Follow" and "Zoo Station" were among the most popular guesses.
But everything we knew was wrong.
After a tension-filled countdown by Bono, who said "This is Bono, by the way," (in case any of us didn't recognize his voice, ha) the powerful opening lines of Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" burst into our homes, cars and phones, followed by "Bullet the Blue Sky," then "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
Be still my beating American heart.
Though the channel is available across most of North America, this was beginning to feel like a love letter to the United States. Launching just ahead of the July 4th holiday, when we would usually celebrate our independence with fireworks and gatherings, our country is plagued with a deadly pandemic and suffering civil unrest in the wake of countless incidents of racial injustice. In a time of collective grief, I couldn't be more grateful to have U2 on the radio, round-the-clock, right now.
The first show to air, after a few hours of music and promos from individual band members, was Bono Calling, which featured Bono interviewing comedian Chris Rock using a 7-question format, which will carry on with future guests. Their exchange was natural and insightful. Hearing stories of Chris following the Elevation tour and having a special affection for "When I Look At The World," coupled with Bono exclaiming "This is a great interview!" was too much fun. A pretty perfect pairing all around.
The other Bono content I couldn't peel myself away from was his narration of some of the fan letters he recently wrote to various musicians. The first recited was addressed to Patti Smith, followed by her song "People Have the Power." Many warm memories of the Innocence + Experience tour flooded to the surface at the sound of those first notes. I can't wait to hear the rest of the letters.
The Edge also debuted his new show, Close to The Edge, which featured a thoughtful discussion with musician David Byrne, who shared that he'd recently become an Irish citizen! Highlights included The Edge marveling at the fact that fans use "One" in their weddings, considering its actual origin, and that songwriting isn't like riding a bicycle — it can become more difficult with years of experience.
A delightful surprise along the way was Matthew McConaughey Plays U2, a celebrity-hosted show where stories are told and favorite songs played. Matthew apparently has a special affection for Rattle and Hum, because the bulk of his list came from that album. The real treat, though, was hearing his rhythmic, seductive intros. Ooh-la-la!
In a similar format was the fan-hosted show Desire, which was kicked off by Kelly in New Jersey, Mark in Toronto and Gretchen in Boston. As a participant myself, I had a great time crafting my list; as a listener I loved hearing the different song choices and stories about connections with the band.
Adam and Larry could both be heard in spoken clips, but as of yet don't host their own shows. Hopefully they will follow at some point.
In the meantime, I'll marvel at the fact that those of us in North America now have 24/7 access to content from and about our favorite living band.
A harbor in a tempest, when we need it most.'
Don't live in the US or Canada? Details still to be confirmed but a monthly highlights show will bring the best of U2 X-Radio to listeners in the rest of the the world. More news soon.