Thanks to Ryan Tedder’s hearty endorsement of the progress happening on Songs of Experience, U2 fans are talking about ATYCLB again. That’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, the 2000 release that – as I say often – was the album that helped the world fall back in love with U2. Do you agree with that characterization? Here’s why I use it.
No matter what you want to call it now that you have the perspective that only the passage of time can provide, Pop was regarded as a big, hot mess in 1997. When it comes to saying how great Pop was and pretending like all the fans loved it back then, you can reach but you can’t grab it. You can push, but you can’t direct it. You know you’re chewing bubblegum…and you knew it then, too. But you loved U2 too much to admit it. Am I really only describing myself here?
Then we waited three long years while they continued to get it out of their systems: their obsession with the Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and all things pop-synth-electronica. We only saw them occasionally during that time, like when they re-released Sweetest Thing and made that adorable video. But when they permanently re-emerged in September 2000, it was truly a beautiful day. It was elevation. U2 was no longer stuck in a moment they couldn’t get out of. It was pure grace. Okay, I’ll stop.
And then came 9/11.
Shout out to Joe Pitella, someone many of you know, for asking the question this week: Did 9/11 further the success of ATYCLB? I said no at first, but I amend that answer. Looking back, there’s no denying that numerous performances – from the Superbowl to Madison Square Garden to basically everything I list here – kept All That You Can’t Leave Behind going, going, going for over two years. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It was a great album already; but one year after its release, it became the perfect album for that terrible time.
And the media absolutely took note. Here’s Josh Tyrangiel in TIME magazine, February 2002:
It turns out that millions of listeners adapted All That You Can’t Leave Behind to cope with the trauma of Sept. 11. After the lead single, Beautiful Day, won three awards at last year’s Grammys—prompting Bono to declare immodestly, “[We’re] reapplying for the job. What job? The best band in the world job”—the album slowly sank on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, bottoming out at 108 in August 2001. But in the months after 9/11, as people looked for comfort, escape or both, the album picked up momentum, rising as high as 25 after the Super Bowl, in its 67th week of release. The album is not prescient, just elastic.”
And that, my friends, is why All That You Can’t Leave Behind is the album that helped the world fall back in love with U2. I’m thrilled that Ryan Tedder, who is respected in the industry and also has cred with a younger listening audience, has publicly acknowledged its greatness. Who knows…maybe Songs of Experience will be the next album to help the world fall back in love with U2.
So thank you, Ryan Tedder! Love, U2 Fans