I watched the movie, “It Might Get Loud” tonight. Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White all get together to talk about guitars. As soon as that idea was spoken aloud, anyone who was in the room to hear it most certainly said, “Holy shit, yes! Perfect!” That would have been my reaction I assume. It was a good movie all in all but I especially paid attention to The Edge’s story. I mean, Jimmy Page’s story is so close to being a story about the Beatles that I felt I’d seen it all before. The black and white film from England, skiffle… I’m not dismissing it in any way. I’m just saying after watching all 10 volumes of the Beatles anthology on multiple occasions, you get a little numb to it. And Jack White, well… He just seemed like he was out to prove something. He wasn’t, in my opinion, exuding the proper reverence for those who had come before him and those who had both written epic songs. Not just one a piece. Multiple… Epic… Songs. I love Jack White, but I don’t consider him epic. In fact, I was trying to think of an American artist who fit that bill and couldn’t think of one, still can’t. Someone help me out. Bruce Springsteen? Yeah, I guess. He could definitely fill an arena. Ah, arena rock. That will be another post though.
It was The Edge who I buddied up to in this film. You could see him being a little nervous, he made a few mistakes and admitted them, he embraces technology and, when he started to play the opening riff to “Where The Streets Have No Name,” he reminded me that he is in a band that was incredibly important to me at one time. That little riff, the delay, and I’m sucked down a wormhole to JFK stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The giant red screen. The four silhouettes strutting out on to stage. The blast of white light across the huge crowd as Bono jumps in with, “I wanna run. I want to hide…” It was massive and I was in the middle of it jumping up and down with my friends who I saw in just flashes of strobe, their mouths wide open singing the songs, their hair bouncing around in dark, sweat-stuck strands. Steam came off the crowd like hot sun hitting a rain soaked road.
It was an amazing show. The first arena for me. And they filled it up. You can say what you want about U2 now, but then… I hope there is a still desk at West Chester University where the lyrics of “Running to Stand Still” are scratched into its surface. I yelled their songs in the shower and my best friend, Mike, and I screamed them from his Jeep Wrangler at two in the morning on weekend drives home, the deer flashing their eyes at us from the sides of the road through the Delaware Water Gap. We drank beer and peed out the open sides of the jeep, “Peeling off those dollar bills, one hundred… two hundred.” They were a glorious band then and when Rattle and Hum came out… well, they were sealed in my heart for good. Still the greatest rock-u-mentary evah!
Yes, rent or buy It Might Get Loud. Yes, put a little U2 back on your iPod tonight like I did. At that concert back in college they ended with the song “40.” It’s something they did then. I haven’t seen them do it since and I haven’t seen the phenomenon it spawned since either. The song ends with a refrain. “How long, to sing this song? How long to sing this song?” and Bono kept singing it after all the music had died out and the crowd kept singing it with him. And even after Bono had left the stage, and the lights were up, the crowd was still singing. We all shuffled out of the stadium, spent from singing and dancing and sweating and we all kept singing that line. “How long, to sing this song?” It started to die out as we reached the tunnels out to the parking lot, but once we got out under the cool air and the blue, skim-milk light from the fluorescent parking lot lighting, we’d hear it again, a few car rows over, then farther in the distance, one girl sweetly crooning as she hung on a light post. Then we were in the car driving back to school. I put my head back on the seat and closed my eyes. The words of the song rolled inside my head as headlights shone red through my eyelids and then were gone. Another car, red, then gone. “How long,” red, “to sing this song,” gone.
U2 was probably playing in the background for both of these photos.