U2, circa 1994
Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

When trying to think of my favorite bands from the 1990’s, I often look for the obscure, since I spent most of that decade in search of things I couldn’t find on the radio. But I’m only human. Back then we didn’t have IPods and it just wasn’t that easy. I also keep forgetting about the early ’90s, when I was still largely a mainstream music listener.

So for a few years there, I was, to put it somewhat mildly, obsessed with U2. It started upon the release of Achtung Baby, and it’s difficult to argue what an impressive set of songs were found on this album. In fact, there was a stretch there for a while where I saw the band at least four times in four different cities in the span of around 5 months. Three of those cities had their own special story associated with it, so I’m telling them here, albeit very briefly.

Cleveland, Ohio (April 1993): I remember this show because it was pretty early on in the tour and it was already getting rave reviews and the album was pretty much the only CD I would listen to. Ask my college roommates. This show in particular is memorable because I saw them from a luxury box. I have no idea whatsoever how I finagled this, but I did. You put a college kid in a luxury box for one of his favorite bands – that’s a bad mix. Free food, free beer, U2.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (May 1993): This was at the horrific Three Rivers Stadium, but I thought it was neat because Primus was opening and it was a gorgeous night. I’m sure the show was fantastic, but there’s really only one thing I remember about this night: I have never in my life had to pee as bad as I did when I was in the car on the way to this show. It hurt. Myself and some friends were jammed like sardines in the back seat and of course, we were partaking in the spirits the whole way there. I remember myself and my friend Lance jumping like sprung monkeys out of the car after we parked and never running faster in our entire lives to find a place to pee.

New York, Giants Stadium (August 1993): Now back home for the summer, I remember thinking that in addition to the Foxboro, MA show, we should rent a van and have a bunch of us drive down to Giants Stadium for that one, too. That’s exactly what we did. So into the big ass red van jumped myself, Spencer, Neil and Scott and we went down, got ourselves a hotel room and saw the show. I drove, but I do recall Spencer, Neil and Scott in the back of the van, wrestling somewhere in Connecticut, undoubtedly fueled by some kind of mainstream light beer.

The overwhelming memory of my U2 phase was when I grew my hair out and started wearing nothing but black, because that’s what Bono did. Oh, if I only had some pictures of this!

One more thing about U2 in the 1990’s, though. Many people look back on U2’s output with great disappointment and to an extent, they’re correct. Achtung Baby was nearly perfect, but Zooropa and Pop were, by and large, real disappointments. However, I give enormous credit to the band for attempting to stretch the boundries and take some chances. They could have easily just mailed in several carbon copies of The Joshua Tree and undoubtedly reaped the immense benefits, but they rolled the dice and even though they didn’t come up sevens with it, I give them all the credit in the world for sticking it out there. Most bands wouldn’t.

So while Zooropa wasn’t their best album, it did contain one of my all-time favorite U2 songs, the title track which is this week’s MP3 of the Week. Enjoy.

Quick note: this song has about a minute-and-a-half low volume intro, so turn ‘er up. Also, you can save all these songs to your own hard drive by simply right-clicking on the link and selecting “Save Link As.”

U2 – “Zooropa”
Zooropa, Vorsprung durch Technik.
Zooropa, be all that you can be.
Be a winner, eat to get slimmer.

Zooropa, a bluer kind of white
Zooropa, it could be yours tonight.
We’re mild and green and squeaky clean.

Zooropa, better by design
Zooropa, fly the friendly skies.
Through the appliance of science
We’ve got that ring of confidence.
And I have no compass
And I have no map
And I have no reasons
No reasons to get back.

And I have no religion
And I don’t know what’s what
And I don’t know the limit
The limit of what we got.

Zooropa, don’t worry baby, it’ll be alright.
Zooropa, you’ve got the right shoes
Zooropa, to get you through the night.
Zooropa, it’s cold outside, but brightly lit
Zooropa, let’s skip the subway,
Zooropa, let’s go to the overground.
Get your head out of the mud baby
Put flowers in the mud baby,

No particular place names
No particular song
I’ve been hiding
What am I hiding from?

Zooropa, don’t worry, baby, it’s gonna be alright
Zooropa, uncertainty can be a guiding light.
Zooropa, I hear voices, ridiculous voices
Zooropa, in the slipstream.
Zooropa, let’s go, let’s go overground.
Zooropa, take your head out of the mud, baby.

She’s gonna dream up the world she wants to live in
She’s gonna dream out loud, she’s gonna dream out loud,
She’s gonna dream out loud, dream out loud.