A few weekends ago I was in a crepe restaurant waiting for some breakfast. I was holding down a table for a group of my friends; the place was packed, with a line wrapped around the counter. Sunday (bloody Sunday) morning was in full effect: I was mildly hung-over and the prospect of a new work-week loomed large.
And what did I hear? What did I hear while my head ached and I waited for my corn beef hash? Irish rockers U2 wailing out “Vertigo” on the restaurant’s sound system. I whipped out my iPhone, and as I do from time to time, I posted something snarky and nasty on Facebook about the song and the band. Almost immediately I got feedback, the general consensus: What the hell is wrong with you, Jason? U2 is awesome.
A long time ago, I used to fall to peer pressure when it came to what was hip or cool, but those days are long since passed. I like what I like and I don’t give a fuck. I purchased the first two Lady GaGa albums, and I’m admitting it! On my Axl Rose-themed music blog!!! So believe me when I tell you, I like you but I could care less what you think of what I like or don’t like. When it comes to U2 I’m so torn. On one hand, I love classic U2. I think THE JOSHUA TREE is an amazingly, triumph of an album. On the other hand, “Vertigo” is pretty much the worst U2 song ever. Their current output has left me cold at times, though I did finally come around on their last album.
I remember in the early 1990’s when U2 came to Kansas City to film a music video for “Last Night On Earth” and how all the people who interacted with them said nothing but nice things. I remember when I thought U2 was lame and over-the-hill…and then ALL THAT YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND came out and proved me wrong.
I saw U2 in 2001 a month after 9/11 and Bono had me in near tears projecting the names on the side of our local arena–so when I tell you that U2 is one of the most disappointing bands I’ve ever known, realize that comes form a place of love. What disappoints me about them? The same things that I find disappointing in myself: they’re lazy. U2 used to consistently put out fucking life-affirming, kick-ass rock music. Music that was not only bad-ass but had a clear message either about how fucked up our world was or how it could be a better place. This year? I’m listening to U2 sing in Spanish about what? 1-2-3?
What’s wrong with “Vertigo”? Where to start…how about it’s not nearly as good as “Another Day.” I bet you’ve never heard “Another Day.” Don’t feel bad if you haven’t, it just means you got laid in High School and aren’t crippled by your obsession of obscure rock music like I am. The song came out in 1980 just before U2 released their first album BOY, and it’s my all-time favorite U2 song. The song, which features a memorable punky-yodel from Bono, and vaguely recalls a Steve Miller song, is great for none of the reasons I like U2.
It’s not particularly political and doesn’t make any large point. The song is super-unique musically (again, I swear there’s a Steve Miller song that sounds just like it). So why do I love it? “Another Day” is pure and fun. There’s a simple, but awesome guitar lick and Bono sounds like he’s having fun. The song also has a bit of a tough-edge (pun intended) near the end with the Edge’s guitar solo…but it’s not an over-the-top wank-fest.
“Another Day” is a young, hungry band having a blast…”Vertigo” is an bunch of old men resting on their laurels. If you can honestly listen to “Another Day” and tell me “Vertigo” is a better song…then you’re completely delusional and need professional help.
Seriously though, “Another Day” is a lost classic that I love dearly. Long live U2. Fuck “Vertigo.”
EDIT 10/25/2012: So while I was writing this I was trying to figure out which Steve Miller song “Another Day” reminded me of. Today at work it came to me, like something from a dream–“Swingtown.” It’s the vocals, nothing else really is similar. Anyway, mystery solved.