Believe it or not, it’s been 26 years to the day since U2 played their third night of Dublin dates at the Point Depot on the Lovetown tour…the night when Bono infamously said this:
“I was explaining to people the other night, but I might’ve got it a bit wrong – this is just the end of something for U2. And that’s what we’re playing these concerts – and we’re throwing a party for ourselves and you. It’s no big deal, it’s just – we have to go away and … and dream it all up again.”
As U2 fans, that quote is meaningful because we know they would emerge 2 years later as the U2 the world knows today. On the surface, it was a U2 with sunglasses, a beanie, an edgier sound and an edgier attitude to match – but under the surface, it was so much more. It might not have been exactly what Bono had in mind when he said that to the crowd; in fact, From the Sky Down documents images of U2 still looking very Rattle and Hum-ish as they began work on Achtung Baby. Think about that: They knew a change was coming, and they knew it needed to happen. But they had no idea what it should actually be.
Here’s what Adam had to say about that time period in the book U2 by U2: “We started with a very sketchy idea of what Achtung Baby was going to be. We wanted it to be forward-looking and forward-thinking and a complete about turn – yet we didn’t really have any idea how we were going to achieve that.”
And here’s a similar quote from Edge: “We went to Berlin with a lot of ideas but most of them were very skeletal and undeveloped.”
As for Larry, he was brutally honest about the uncertainty of that time in U2 history: “I thought this might be the end…for the first time, it felt like the cracks were within.”
U2’s dream it all up again story is encouraging as we approach a new year. When the biggest band in the world stood on the precipice of a new year and a new beginning a quarter of a century ago, they knew it was time for a change – but they weren’t even sure what that change was. So if you know it’s time for a change in 2016 and you know what that change should look like, you’re already a step ahead of where U2 was before they dreamed it all up again. That’s comforting, right? I think so!
And because Bono isn’t God, here’s a Bible verse for the new year for those who would like it: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (Side note, if you are interested in the biblical references in Bono’s lyrics, you must check out Barbara Marinello’s On Your Knees: Biblical References, Religion and Faith in the Songs by U2. Barbara is one of our U2 friends in Italy; she has written this book in English, and it’s incredibly well-researched. You’ll find biblical references in U2 songs you never imagined had them. This goes way beyond the songs you already knew were biblically inspired!). Okay, back to the new year’s reflections…
Maybe we’ll wake up on January 1, and it will feel like nothing changes on New Year’s Day. That’s okay…at least we start out knowing that a change is coming, and we keep moving forward until it starts to reveal itself. That’s what dreaming it all up again is about.