U2101 – Mofo

The very first time I ever listened to the Pop album, the night it came out, the song that made the biggest immediate impact on me was “Mofo”. That deep, wicked bass groove caught my attention like an electro-magnet and didn’t let go for the entire five+ minutes of the song’s duration.I think that Mofo contains some of Bono’s most personal lyrics ever, detailing his life from the death of his mother when he was a teenager up through his search for wholeness and affirmation as an adult rock star. The lyric might as well be “looking for to fill that mom shaped hole”. English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray once wrote that “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”, and sometimes that extends into the adult years. Sometimes it never goes away. Sometimes, It’s like a big black hole that never stops sucking, and eventually you’ll run out of things to shove in there. I think that Bono’s in that category, a little bit. I’m feel fairly confident that he’s never gotten over the loss of his mother when he was young – you wouldn’t, would you? – and the insecurity he feels, that constant need to be applauded and cheered and adored that makes him be a rock star is a result of that. To be honest, it’s a large part of why U2 are such an amazing live band, because the front man is just as desperate to connect with the audience as they are with him. All of the above is encapsulated much more succinctly and poetically in the lyrics to Mofo.

Of course, Mofo is probably most famous as the song that opened every show of the Pop*Mart tour, seguing from the Pop Music remix that the band walked out onto the stage to. The high energy of the song, along with the way in which it encapsulated the “silly and spectacular” mythos of Pop and also with Bono’s impassioned vocal delivery and Edge’s guitar heroics made this the perfect song to kick off what was then U2’s most ambitious tour. My personal favorite performance of the song comes from the 1997 MTV Europe Music Awards, where, following an absolutely killer introduction from Dennis Hopper, the band rocked the house with “Mofo”. The song has been soundchecked a few times during each of the last two tours, but, given the band’s apparent desire to distance themselves from the Pop album, I doubt that it will ever appear live again.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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