I said I’d write every day. I didn’t say it would be good or compelling. I have to put a lot of thought into some work stuff this week so when that happens, I get really laser focused and when I get home, I have nothing creative left in me. So I need another prompt.

Greatest rock Band:

We can all debate this but when I look back on my lifetime and what really caught my attention early on, it was U2. I’m not going to argue their latest stuff is anywhere near their best. When you’ve been at it as long as they have and your most amazing albums happened in the 80s and 90s, the transition is hard. But, I give them a ton of credit for sticking to it, selling out stadiums still and being able to evolve creatively while integrating technology, social media and cultural shifts. That, in itself, is pretty phenomenal. Plus, whether you like their songs or not, to be able to write new music themselves for 40ish years is not easy. Look at the crap I’ve been churning out every day this month. To be able to write personally for that long and not run out of topics…..bow down.

What stood out for me at an early age was it was the first time I heard music with a “cause.” I don’t know how many generations removed from the homeland I am (I’ll take a DNA kit for Xmas by the way) but I believe we pre-dated the potato famine. Oh, Dolans…..always able to see 10 steps ahead and take early action when everyone else thinks you are overreacting. It’s in my blood, people. I can’t stop.

Sunday, Bloody, Sunday was so passionate and full of angst…especially live. I was really curious. I didn’t even know what a “pensioner” was so I learned about it. This music introduced me to my culture and “the troubles.” I started digging into the fight in Northern Ireland…the IRA. It was the first terrorism I ever really understood. As I got older, it fed into my reading and research on the famine which is how I discovered that the English took advantage of the potato blight in an effort to speed up our deaths so they could get the fishing zones of the Irish coast. I even read Trinity by Leon Uris. Basically, U2 introduced me to my heritage and planted the seeds of a “fighter.” It’s when I first started looking for the underdog and subconsciously decided to spend my life arguing on their behalf.

It wasn’t just that song. Unforgettable Fire moved me musically. I didn’t even need to understand the words to blast that one on the radio. Of all the times I have seen U2, I only saw them do that one once at Gillette the year with that giant spider thing. I was with my mom, sister and sister-in- law 10 years ago…had just made the offer on my house that morning. Dad got us upgraded seats – a few thousand dollars worth. Nuts but worth it.

Whenever tragedy strikes like gun massacres, school shootings, club shootings and I feel so lost, exasperated…I need to hear “Bad” the live version. I don’t know why but I think the way it’s performed feels like my exasperation put to sound. And I think we all need to be “wide awake” when that shit happens.

I also have to admit I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time learning about MLK until I heard Pride. Who were they talking about “early morning, April 4….”. And do you know what song I hated? With or Without You. Yep, my favorite song in high school after seeing Rattle and Hum (great album you never hear from anymore, by the way.) Can’t get enough of every version of that song now but in 1987…not interested.

Where The Streets Have No Name. The song I want playing if I get married when I enter my reception…hated it! Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For quoted in my high school year book….hated it! Basically, it took me about 5 years to get into Joshua Tree. Now, I think it’s one of the best albums ever compiled and I feel blessed to have seen it done live last year. Red Hill Mining Town and Exit are at the top of my list. Exit is dark but so intense if you crank up the volume. I find it really cathartic when I am full of angst, super edgy. I’ll put that one on repeat several times without getting sick of it. If you hear me playing it, know I am pissed as hell about something and steer clear.

Bullet the Blue Sky written 30 years ago still holds true today. I always loved how Bono had a cause, an anger in some songs, a political point to prove. He preached but never too much….not like Springsteen who can’t shut the fuck up and sings the same lyric over and over for 20 minutes followed by another 20 minutes of talking. My mother keeps the Springsteen satellite radio on at all times in the car. 1st, the point of paying for Satellite radio is for variety. 2nd, with the exception of one or two songs, he annoys the shit out of me because we can drive to the end of the Cape on the same song which started in the driveway. With the exception of Atlantic City, I’d rather put a lit cigarette in my eye than listen to him.

I feel like at every U2 concert I have learned something about a person/leader or another part of the world I may never have had access to. Pretty sure I learned about apartheid, health issues in Africa, AIDS, (famine…my favorite Christmas song from Band Aid which Bono belts out “tonight thank it’s them instead of you…hmmm, sounds like something the GOP thinks when they pray at night…) leaders improperly jailed, Sarajevo, Myanmar….really fascinating stuff. And, this band gives a shit ton of their money away….like meaningful amounts to causes they believe in. Bono has the clout to meet with and influence world leaders. In fact, as Trump began to emerge as a serious threat I found myself surfing the web for Bono commentary and there wasn’t any. I went to a concert figuring the whole thing would be trashing Trump and the GOP….not much, just a little cartoon/video backdrop during one of the songs. I have been pretty disappointed, actually. I think we could have used his voice and I think it could have influenced the election.

Their most recent albums haven’t been nearly as good as their first 15-20 years but they did sneak one onto the album, How to Build an Atomic Bomb. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own absolutely, fucking guts me and makes me cry when I listen to it. I have never found lyrics which so closely represent the relationship I have with my father. Especially when he started his cancers 5 or 6 years ago. Listen to it. It’s powerful. The only other song which does the same thing so I basically can’t hear it is Landslide from Fleetwood Mac.

Unlike most kids I grew up with, I wasn’t really into pop music. I had an early inclination towards actual artists….people who wrote their own lyrics and played their own instruments. Even if I don’t like an artist now, if they are a real artist like that I respect them. I can’t listen to Taylor Swift but I very much respect her as an artist and business woman. Same as U2. I only grew up with one friend who listened to U2 besides me. Everyone else was doing Madonna and New Kids on the Block. Manufactured\image over talent just didn’t interest me. Even hair bands were better. Def Leppard, rock on 🤘🏻!

This annoying, won’t back down activist I am right now started when I was young and fascinated to learn about oppression….the “other” people….the ones who didn’t make it because of what church they attended or the color their of their skin. Why were they oppressed? Why did one group think their way superior to another? I truly couldn’t understand and wanted to. I started questioning the teachings of Catholicism….what we said on Sundays didn’t really line up with what we did to people the other 6 days of the week.

To this day, I still can’t find a civilized answer to my 6th grade inquisitiveness. It always seems to go back to something like land, proximity to food source, gems, oil, money and someone’s fear of either not being able to steal it or forever keep it to themselves…a fear based on absolutely nothing solid as the Irish didn’t take from the British, the Africans didn’t take from the British or Belgians, black people haven’t taken anything from white people, poor people haven’t taken anything from rich people and women haven’t taken anything from men. Freedom and equality don’t require taking anything from anyone else. I had figured this out by Junior High because my escape was coming home from school and popping U2 tapes in my stereo in my bedroom while writing down song lyrics I wanted to look further into.

While my musical tastes are diverse, they do stick to indie label, alternative and authentic songwriters. I go to tons of concerts. My playlists have thousands of songs on them. But U2 had the most influence in my formative years and I actually think I am a better person because my social conscience was awoken at a very young age. I think most music now is missing this….unless you want to teach your 9 year olds about blow jobs, Eiffel towers, some misogyny and revealing clothing. “Which short skirt should I get?” “Which Kylie lip kit color should I get?” “Google Eiffel Tower,…no, not the thing in France… the thing in that song.” Yep, social conscience isnt finding them through music these days.