I left you with a gripping cliffhanger over a year ago about my eyeballs, and now you can breath. My vision is amazingly clear and the recovery after the procedure was weird and miserable only for a little while. Going back to last year I was following rumor and news about a new release from U2. After launching “Invisible” in February, 2014, it seemed a new record was imminent and they were not going to settle for relic status. About that time I came across the “Eh! U Talkin’ U2 To Me?” (read that in a Travis Bickle voice) podcast from Scott & Scott, the U2 nerds. Fortunately, they have day jobs as (mid- to upper-alphabet range) Hollywood stars. Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Life of Walter Mitty, know what I’m saying? Like me, their anticipation was stoked! Though in each 3-hour episode, outside of the convoluted tangents and ‘podcast within a podcast’ segments, they barely got around to talking about U2.
Maybe I did learn a few encyclopedic and comprehensive facts about the band, but now I realize the genuine takeaway was a sense of humor and the ability to take the band’s collective ego (entirely Bono) with a pinch of salt. With that conditioning it was possible to keep perspective when “Songs of Innocence” was compelled upon the planet. I can trust that they meant well, but then most of the planet was not amused with having “dad rock” involuntarily pushed to their playlists. It was well and kind that they wanted everyone to enjoy the new record for free, but it became an object lesson for the value of our free agency; U2 (Bono’s ego) came across like cloying, cheap cologne in a small indoor space. The otherwise decent album made a bad impression.
Again, thanks to the podcast, I got a bit deeper and broader in contemplating U2. Honestly I am no longer “in the moment” with them and it’s more of a sentimental recollection. They were significantly influential to me for a long time and I view the world with some of the perspective they gave me, but I don’t listen to them much anymore. I love it when I do dig back into the old collection, but I feel like I’ve absorbed all there is for me. I’m at a saturation for Bonoisms (The Edge on guitar never gets old though).
Some of those podcast episodes got me thinking about what is my actual favorite U2 record of all time and space. My first flash response would be “War” since it’s the first one that got me hooked and it was the crest of my angsty teenage time. But this would take some serious statistical treatment now that I have a clear and objective vantage point. With some irreproducible scientific procedures I came up with my actual list, which I can say I don’t agree with, but hey, the subjective numbers cannot lie. I simply listed each song within each album, rated with a numeric scale (2, 1, 0, -1, -2) from “phenomenal, wow” to “omg, what a turd,” tallied the point total for each album, and divided by number of tracks. Here’s what I got:
1: Joshua Tree
2: Unforgettable Fire
3: Songs of Innocence (WTF)
12: Boy (But it’s really good when your first album is not the best you’ve even done)
My ‘Best Of’ List
– I Threw a Brick Through a Window
[War: None, wtf]
– The Unforgettable Fire
– With or Without You
– One Tree Hill
– Even Better Than the Real Thing
– Until the End of the World
– The Fly
– Do You Feel Loved
– Beautiful Day
[SoI: None, suspicious?]
My ‘Worst Of’ List
– The Wanderer
– The Playboy Mansion
In conclusion, “War” is still my sentimental favorite, but Joshua Tree is (statistically) a set of wow! relentlessly phenomenal songs. I think there must be some noise in the data to account for the anomaly of “War” disappearing and “Songs of Innocence” spiking on this list. Apparently I also need a psychiatrist if I’m starting to correct my own mind on my opinions.