'Mystical Auras'

26 Jun 201243

'Mystical Auras'

'The first U2 song I heard was 'I Will Follow when it was played on a Philadelphia radio station in 1981.' recalls Matt McGee of atU2.com, who's been writing about the band online since 1995 when he founded 'Matt's (mostly U2) Music Page'. ' I liked the song more with each hearing, and considered myself a fan, but I have to confess that I was still more into The Police at the time. (And a few of the more dodgy artists of the early '80s that will remain unmentioned here.)
'U2 didn't really catch me hook, line and sinker until a couple years later, so that's where my U2 playlist has to begin ... before it wanders off in no particular order to the finish.'

 




 

Let us know what you think of Matt's U2 Playlist in the comments below - what's he got right, what's he inexplicably forgotten to include.


NEW YEAR'S DAY - WAR
I'm a sucker for a piano, and even more so when a rock band is using it. The fact that Edge was playing both the piano and guitar simultaneously -- and effortlessly -- was jaw-dropping. Throw in Adam's fantastic bass line and Larry's terrific drum work ... just wow. Watch the Zoo TV Sydney version of this if you need a reminder of what a great song it is.


BAD - THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE
My first U2 concert experience was from the fourth row of a show on The Unforgettable Fire tour, and "Bad" quickly became Exhibit A when talking about U2 songs that were good on record, but became an entirely better beast in concert.

It's interesting how this song has taken on an almost mystical aura among U2 fans in recent years. I credit that to the fact that U2 has seriously underplayed this song in concert over the past couple tours. Here's hoping that changes next time around. Right, gang?


ONE TREE HILL - THE JOSHUA TREE
Speaking of mystical auras! Another song that fans around the globe would almost die to hear in concert just once. And the lucky fans in New Zealand get it every time, don't they? (Jealous!)

I love the way this song simmers out of the gate and gallops along. But for me, it's really all about Bono's guttural wailing at the end -- the Spirit coming out, the rain coming down. And all the emotion with it.


AN CAT DUBH/INTO THE HEART - BOY
Maybe one of the most perfect pieces of music that U2 has ever created. Seriously, fire up your copy of Boy and fast-forward to about the 4:00 mark of this combo.

The song is really starting to take off at this point and you think they're about to go into full-flight mode. Then ... what? They pull back. Restraint. Discipline. Starting at about the 4:40 mark and lasting for almost two full minutes, there's a stunning, quiet interlude. The song crawls along at its own pace.

I'm blown away by the patience. Boy is such a frenetic album and most songs feel like a race to the finish. 'An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart' just defies logic. You have to pinch yourself and remember: U2 were 19 and 20 years old when they pulled this off. Are you kidding me?


ONE - ACHTUNG BABY
It's just one of the most perfect 4-5 songs ever written. By anyone. And that's about all that needs to be said.


ORIGINAL OF THE SPECIES - HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB
There are a handful of U2 songs that can bring me to tears in any circumstance, and this is one of them. I think Bono has said that it's written with his daughter(s) in mind, or maybe it was Edge's daughter(s), but I think of it more generally as a tribute to the amazing and mysterious creation that is the female.

Some fans have said that the lyrics in this one don't make sense but, as a guy who's spent 40+ years trying to understand females ... well, maybe the lyrics don't need to make sense. (Am I right, guys?)

By the way, the Live In Milan version of this song with the string section playing from the Vertigo tour's b-stage is where it's at for me. A real keeper.


KITE - ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND
This song was the centerpiece of the best U2 concert I've seen: April 20, 2001, in San Jose. That's the first time U2 ever played this one live, and you could just FEEL it coming as soon as you walked inside the arena.

When it finally happened, it was like the roof disappeared and the skies opened up. There was magic in the arena that night thanks to this song. For at least a while, Bono called it the best show of his life and Willie Williams called it 'transcendental'. They can thank Kite', one of U2's really underrated gems.

DREAMING WITH TEARS IN MY EYES

Can I go off the beaten track a bit here? This is a Bono solo effort (actually, Larry plays drums and tambourine, too) from a 1997 tribute CD called "The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers."

I have to include it because I think it's one of Bono's finest vocals ever. There's a real melancholy in his delivery. Suggest listening to this one with a great pair of headphones. It's a gentle song, but one that doesn't leave you easily afterward.


PLEASE - POP
It's hard to imagine anything stealing the show from 'Streets', but this was THE showstopper of the PopMart tour. A more personal version of 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', I think, with Bono pleading -- in concert, praying -- for The Troubles to stop. It's one of his best lyrical and vocal performances, and Adam's bass line really stands out for me, too.

I know peace has prevailed, but I'd love to see and hear this one again live down the road. If "Sunday Bloody Sunday" can be reworked to fit current events from tour to tour, maybe "Please" can, too.


I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR - THE JOSHUA TREE
This is one of U2's overplayed Big Hits that I grew tired of ... for about 20 years. But as often happens with life and U2 songs, things change. More than any other, this song helped get me through some difficult moments in the last couple years and now it's a must for my playlist. Don't ever count out a U2 song.


CITY OF BLINDING LIGHTS - HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB
75,000 people screaming in unison: 'Oh! You! Look! So! Beauuuuutiful! Toniiiiiiight.......'

Really, how can you beat that? It's far and away the best live song that U2 wrote in the 2000s with lyrics that hit me right at home in so many different ways.

But what I really love is how Edge makes his guitar sing as Bono asks the crowd, 'Can you see the beauty inside of me?' Listen at the 2:32 mark of the Live at the Rose Bowl version and you'll know what I mean. Chills.


CEDARS OF LEBANON - NO LINE ON THE HORIZON

I'm not sure why I'm putting this track here, right in the middle of several big concert hits. But, then again, "Cedars Of Lebanon" would stand out no matter where I put it, right?

This song sounds so un-U2 to me. Maybe it's Bono's mostly-spoken delivery? Maybe it's the third-person storytelling? I don't know. It's certainly not the only quiet and moody song U2 has written. Heck, most of their album closers fit that description.

But this is the song that I return to time and again from No Line On The Horizon.


ULTRAVIOLET - ACHTUNG BABY
I'd forgotten how much I loved this until the 360 tour rolled around. Since then, there've been nights when I've played it on repeat, non-stop for 45 minutes while walking on a treadmill at the local gym. There are also nights when I'll turn off the lights, put on my headphones and watch the Live at the Rose Bowl version about 6-7 times in a row in silence and awe. Light my way, indeed.


WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME - THE JOSHUA TREE
Sorry to end on a cliché, but I can't tell you how much this song means to me. I'll just say this: In between tours, this is the song I most want to see and hear again. And when I think about the fact that someday U2 is going to call it quits, nothing scares me like the thought of never experiencing 'Streets' live again. Nothing.

Just missed the cut: Stateless, Out Of Control, Beautiful Day, Yahweh and Unknown Caller.

 Jacknife Lee's Playlist.
 Danny Lanois's Playlist.
 John Noble's Playlist.
 Caroline van Oosten de Boer's Playlist.
 

 

Comments
43
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danielsentana
Man
I agree on every single track. You're right about An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart, it's just an incredible piece of music that I could only put into perspective in the Vertigo Tour. Felt like an introspective piece from the middle of their career, not from the very beginning!
greydogblues
ahhhhhh,,,,,
simpatico! forgive me if this is duplicative (trouble keeping a connection), but An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart - AGREED! i thought i was the only one who really appreciated these... they bring me back to me; and Streets - i don't know want to think about never hearing this live again, so, i simply won't go there. i was in Chicago on 7/5 for the One Tree Hill = AND the U22 choice for Stay... it was so special. too bad Minneapolis didn't make U22, but the rain may have had something to do with that. doesn't matter.... it's here with me forever. p.s. enjoying very much following you on twitter (different i.d.).
johnwgoessens
Great list
Great list, Matt. But for me, any list will do. So, I keep on playing, playing and playing....
jazzyjoesig
love it!
The emotional undertone of many of these songs has hit me in the same way and has also helped me to get through difficult times. Matt picked all of my favorite u2 songs. I would add unknown caller.
kathyroo
Me too
Right on, Matt...Love what you do @U@.com. I've followed the boys since they broke in the US, though I didn't see my first U2 concert until 1985 with UF. Haven't missed a tour since, as many shows as I can during each tour. Sometime during Vertigo is when it hit me, this isn't going to last forever, and I probably have more U2 shows behind me than I will have in the future. Tried not to be too sad about it but instead grateful for as much as I have already received from this band. It did motivate me to hit more shows on 360 than I had on any previous tour, and that will be my plan next time too.
mich40
Matt's playlist
Matt's list and descriptions are so perfect. Glad to see him featured, as I've been a fan of his website for a long time. And like Allegra, his thoughts on "Streets" had me in tears too. I just can't imagine not hearing that again....
utwothefly
nice list...
your picture is funny as!, nice stuff i see there!
milehighmofo
No Stay?
Come on Matt- no Zooropa tracks? How 'bout Stay? Remember getting booted from Invesco Field's rehearsal as Stay began? Thanks for your choices...and for @U2.com BTW: great pic!
Andyok
Matt - super list - beautifully written!
I look forward to your comments each month on your own site, so great to see you on U2.com. Creating lists is always hard and I agree how songs move in and out of them. Really like a good 70% of your list and especially Ultraviolet from the Rose Bowl, eyes shut with headphones one - simply stunning!! I've neaver been able to say what my no.1 song is, but it might just be Ultraviolet........or Bad, Oh I don't know....
bkgarceau
Great List
Nice list of songs here Matt! Love the choices!
nmbr1u2fan
responding to your list
great setlist!
hnicolaidesk
1980
When I first heard "Out of Control" - and that was that.... no turning back.
Allegra
YAY!!! MATT IS SPOTLIGHTED ON U2.COM!!!
Matt McGee is the shiznit of U2 fans and an excellent writer. He's so good that he just made me bust into tears after reading "And when I think about the fact that someday U2 is going to call it quits, nothing scares me like the thought of never experiencing "Streets" live again. Nothing." I just lost it. I try not to think about it. But damn you Matt for reminding us all! ;-)
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