I'm not sure how I found out about your latest project, From the Sky Down, but I did. And even though I was in the hospital having just had my second child, I knew it was important enough for me to look into it further, so I did (all hail the power of the smart phone) and I was able to set up our DVR to record it on Showtime.
I knew that the piece was a documentary that was made reflecting on the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby...my third most-favorite of all of your albums. But until I saw the film this past weekend (what can I say..we've been busy) I was unaware of how much I would respect you even more after seeing it.
You see, a long time ago, I was a musician too. But before that ever happened, I was just a nerdy kid trying to get through junior high. My older sister was a freshman in college and I was visiting her during Parent's Weekend. There was no end to my level of admiration for my sister and her totally-cool, super-awesome college friends so when they all mentioned going to see a movie that night and the possibility of me going along with them I was totally excited.
We all piled into someone's very small hatchback with me crouched in the leg space of the front passenger seat. I felt important and risky and cool. At the theater, we got tickets to see "Rattle and Hum", a movie about a band called U2. I rarely listened to the radio and when I did it was to bubble gum, eighty's pop like Tiffany and Wham!. Sometimes I branched out toward Duran Duran, but only when at my best friend, Stephanie's, house.
I can remember sitting in the dark theater watching the movie and falling deeply and madly in love with you. I had never seen anything so sexy in my life as you running your hands through your sweaty hair and passionately belting out the most amazing music into the microphone. "Rattle and Hum" changed my life. I came home and immediately purchased the album...as in the actual record...and then purchased an album of "Joshua Tree". I listened to them daily enraptured by the incredible instrumentation and melodies and words and your voice.
It was about this time in my life where I discovered the pure and utter joy of singing. I was pretty good at it and went on to take voice lessons and go to a performing arts high school and eventually major in vocal performance in college. One thing I could never truly describe to people was that when I was singing, I was never really singing the words, although you could always understand what I was saying, rather I was always singing the music. I was emoting the feeling that the music gave to me. To this day, I know that is why I was a great singer...because I felt the music.
Last weekend, I got the chance to sit down and watch your latest project, From the Sky Down. It is a documentary made reflecting on the 20th anniversary of Achtung baby. Much of the film focuses on the struggle you as a band were having coming together after the blinding success of "Joshua Tree" followed by the critically panned "Rattle and Hum" and trying to figure out who you were and where you wanted to go next. The film gives an incredible view into the band's and your creative process where the songs and the melodies and the riffs all come together on their own and the words come later. I watched the piece in awe seeing for the first time that my creative process was not unlike yours.
The movie touches upon your distaste for the film and album project, "Rattle and Hum". But I felt it necessary to write this letter to you to let you know that those things were not for naught. "Rattle and Hum" was an awakening for a lost seventh grader who would blossom into a confident, poised singer. It was the beginning of a revolution for me and the discovery of who I was meant to be.
So, thank you. I know I'm only one person among billions...but I can only hope that my story could potentially transform the film and album experience of "Rattle and Hum" for U2...even if just for a moment.