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Tom's Beginner's Guide to U2

Well I did this for B, and because I'm excited. I'll stay up way too late writing this, but I'm having fun.

So here's the list.

1. Out of Control

U2's first single. You can't really make a guide without their first single. Probably not their best work, but certainly gives us a few pointers about where they might be heading.

2. New Year's Day

Off their third album War, this song has something to do with Poland and war I think. I've forgotten, but it's good. War was the first U2 album I owned, it was on cassette when I was 6. This song stuck with me.

3. Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live at Red Rocks)

Such an important song for U2. They copped a lot of flack about this song at the time. People thought it was a call to arms for the IRA but it was a call to peace which is why at the beginning of this version Bono tells the crowd "This is not a rebel song". I always like the bit at the end of the song when we're called to "claim the victory Jesus won". It gives me goose bumps.

4. Bad

I've heard that when it was released this song had the longest list of "tion"s (ie dislocation, separation, condemnation) in a song ever. I doubt that's true now, what with all them rappers and all, but it's an interesting thought.

I like the song, it's not one of my faves but I thought it was a good song to show the transitioning between their early years sounds and their middle years stuff. They had a new producer this album (Brian Eno) who started them in a different, vibier direction.

5. With or Without You

This is track 3 on The Joshua Tree arguably U2's greatest album. It was certainly the album that made them huge. The first 4 tracks of this album sound like a fanboy's dream playlist. It is a massive anthem filled album.

I'm not quite sure what this song is about but I think it has something to do with living trying to live a life of love, a Christ-like life. You can't live with Christ, it's too hard, but you cannot live without him. It's a good dichotomy between what's received and what's desired.

6. Bullet the Blue Sky

Someone once said The Edge's guitar in this song is the angriest guitar in rock history. It certainly a song filled with barely suppressed rage. It was written as a protest against the USA's foreign policy in Latin America, where it fed the civil wars and propped up despots to meet it's own agendas.

7. Running to Stand Still

This is the first song so far that wasn't released as a single. It's a song looking through the eyes of a drug addict. It's a painfully beautiful song.

8. All I Want is You

The album this is off, Rattle and Hum, has been viewed as a bit of a let down after The Joshua Tree. It was an attempt to find the roots of Rock 'n' Roll. I think it's good. But I think U2's all good. This song is one of their most spectacular love songs. It really just turns you to mush.

9. The Fly

The first single off Achtung Baby (my favourite album, damn solid!), Bono described this song as "the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree." It showed a radical departure from classic U2, a time when they embraced irony, parodied themselves and the rock star life. This song is cool and I'm sure it has a message about consumerism or mass media or something in there too. I've never sat down and tried to work it out.

10. Love is Blindness (Live)

I dig this song. It makes you ache.

11. Mofo

From Pop this song shows U2 at their most non-rock, in their electronic, experimental stage. It's probably not the best song on the album but it is a good one to show where Pop was at. Pop is a damn fine album, not great, but it certainly has the foundations of greatness. So much potential. U2 say if they had an extra 3 months in the studio this album would have achieved what they were aiming for. You can just see the juicy goodness elusively floating under the surface. It's an album full of questions and doubt, but still clinging to hope by the barest of threads.

12. Walk On

Classic U2 are back. From All That You Can't Leave Behind, this is U2 at their simple song writing best. This song is wonderful. It was this album that made me fall in love with U2. It's very special.

13. All Because of You

A rocking, stomping, tribute to grace. Yeah baby!

14. Where the Streets Have No Name (Live from Boston)

Probably U2's most famous anthem, this song soars. It's the first song off The Joshua Tree and has gone on great guns from there. It's a staple song at U2 gigs. When it's played live it sends shivers up my spine, and I've only ever seen it on DVD or heard it on CD. It's wonderful. Bono has said whenever they play this song live, whatever their show has been like before it, you can always feel the Spirit enter the place. This song encapsulates why U2 are so great.

You can get the iMix here. If the link doesn't work search for "Tom's Beginner's Guide to U2".