12th Annual AWF Build A Well For Bono’s Birthday Kicks Off

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With 40 days to go before Bono's 54th birthday on May 10, the African Well Fund has kicked off its annual "Build A Well" campaign. According to the AWF site, this year's "Invisible"-inspired theme, "there is no them, there's only us" will "benefit a community-based water and sanitation project in the Ebo municipality of the Kwanza Sul Province in Angola. The project aims to increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for more than 12,000 people living in these communities."

As in previous years once a donation is made, fans are encouraged to sign the birthday card. All well wishes will be conveyed to Bono at the conclusion of the "Build A Well For Bono's Birthday" campaign.

Over the past 11 years, fans have generously donated over $$225,000 for Bono's birthday.

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Column: off the record…, vol. 14-612

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off the record, from @U2

I have been reminiscing about the days before the 24-hour news cycle and social media-driven rumors after reading two promising reports this week that U2 are back in the studio and planning their next tour. I'm encouraged that we might have a release later this year, but I'm not getting my hopes up until I have something more concrete to go on. Like many fans, I have had my hopes raised and dashed many times over the decades. It was easier to be a U2 fan back in the '80s when I was in high school and college. I didn’t judge or compare the music to itself; I just listened. I listened to albums and cassettes over and over again until I wore them out because I wasn’t searching Twitter for selfies taken with band members outside restaurants or combing obscure online industry zines for snippets of confidential information leaked by producers or hangers-on. Back in those days, the wait was somewhat like foreplay. It made the climax of the one live show that I could see that much sweeter. At that point in my life, following the band around the country or the world was beyond my ability. Now, with a full-time income and job flexibility, I can see several shows every tour. I was more patient back then, because I had to be. If Willie Williams’ suggestion this week (that the next U2 tour will be less imposing) proves to be true, I may have the chance to see the band at Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center – a new facility across the street from the old, demolished Civic Arena where I first saw the band in April 1985. If I just put down my mobile phone, I might be able to enjoy life coming full circle.

Speaking of circles, John Waters, author of Race Of Angels: The Genesis Of U2 (Fourth Estate, 1994), is back in the spotlight, but this time under somewhat vainglorious circumstances. For someone who at first seemed to me to be on the cutting edge of Irish culture, his vociferous opinions on blogging and homosexuality have mystified me. At the beginning of January, Rory O’Neill, popular Dublin pub owner and drag queen (@pantibliss), mentioned on RTE’s Saturday Night Show that he thought Waters and other media figures were homophobic. After Waters and the others threatened a lawsuit, the network removed the clip from its website and paid 85,000 euros to Waters and members of the Iona Institute for defamation of character. The debacle has been hotly debated on the streets of Dublin and in the national parliament as Ireland considers putting marriage equality on the ballot in 2015. Until late January, Waters had written a column for the Irish Times every Friday for more than 20 years. At that time, in the wake of the scandal, he took a leave of absence. On Friday, the Irish Times and Waters parted ways for good. Although he no longer writes for the Times, he will continue to write a Sunday column for the Irish Mail.

Also in publishing this week, Liberties Press, one of Ireland's leading independent publishers, launched Where The Streets Have 2 Names, featuring hundreds of unpublished photographs of U2 and other bands who were part of the Dublin music scene in the late '70s and early '80s, such as the Virgin Prunes, The Blades, The Black Catholics, The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. Patrick Brocklebank began his career with Hot Press and, as a favorite photographer and confidant of many emerging musicians, received commissions from international publications as the bands gained notoriety. In 2012, The Little Museum of Dublin exhibited a selection of his U2 photographs (and has since set up the only permanent display of U2 memorabilia in the world). Subsequently, Scott Calhoun gained access to the collection and Brocklebank’s photos were displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the U2 Conference in April 2013. Where The Streets Have 2 Names is available from the Liberties Press website and was edited by Sinéad Molony.

(c) @U2/Hess, 2014.

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Like A Video: Beautiful Day (Under the Brooklyn Bridge)

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Like a Video[Ed. note: This is the 24th in a series of essays by the @U2 staff about U2-related visuals and videos. Some essays may be informational and educational, while others may be more personal.]

I can tell you exactly where I was the night U2 filmed a surprise concert under the Brooklyn Bridge in 2004. It was Monday, Nov. 22, and I was a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, most likely in a media studies class required for my major in communication arts. My school should be thankful Twitter didn’t exist at the time. One leaked tweet about the show and I would have made up an epic excuse to skip class. My favorite band playing a mini show in my favorite city? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! But unfortunately, I did.

U2 were promoting their new album at the time, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. That happens to be my favorite U2 record and the one that turned me into a fan. But the song in this video is for my favorite U2 song on the planet, “Beautiful Day,” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind. I chose this video from the concert because it is so relevant to the place my life is in right now.

It’s fitting that this piece is being published this week, as I am about to embark on one of the biggest events of my life. I’m finally, after a very long walk on a long and winding road, moving to New York City in a few days. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was 15 and went to my first Broadway show. It’s something I never thought would happen. It’s something that I’ve constantly strived for and never lost sight of.

I’ve written before about U2’s connection to my love of New York. While I don’t know them personally, U2 have been with me on my NYC journey and for that I am forever grateful. My immense fandom for them didn’t fully bloom until I was in college, even though I started listening to them in high school. I listened to them on the long train rides to and from my classes in NYC. When I doubted that my goal to be a fancy magazine writer would ever come to life, I turned to their music to give me guidance. They even got me through my first NYC heartbreak. This video, filmed under the majestic Brooklyn Bridge with the city skyline as the background, fills me with such pride. Bono singing “I know I’m not a hopeless case” makes me feel so happy that I actually have so much hope and joy in my life right now.

It’s hard for me to even pick an actual favorite lyric in “Beautiful Day” because I love everything about the whole song. “The heart is a bloom,” as the opening line? It’s perfect. The chorus of “It’s a beautiful day / Don’t let it get away”? I have it tattooed on me. But the lyrics that I connect to most when it comes to this video are:

You love this town

Even if that doesn’t ring true

You’ve been all over

And it’s been all over you

I’ve had people ask me if once I move to NYC, would I completely ditch “my roots”? I was born and raised in New Jersey, and while I’ve always wanted to break out of my small town, I don’t see myself distancing from it. My family is still there! And come on, I’m from the state that gave the music world Bruce Springsteen (I was even born in the same hospital as him). But while I didn’t ever see myself living there forever, I’ve done everything I could and now I’m ready to move on to start a new life. I literally have been all over and Jersey has definitely been all over me. So seeing this lyric being sung in my future hometown hits me hard. And those who know me really well know I would have cried my eyes out during this entire show as it is.

I have a confession to make while writing this. Having been to NYC about what seems like a million times and doing everything the city has to offer, I have actually never been to the Brooklyn Bridge! I’ve driven past it while in the back of a taxicab, but that’s the closest I’ve ever been. But that is what’s so great about being in this city. There’s so much to do that when you think you’ve done it all, you really haven’t. That’s why I’m so excited to move. So I can see new things and experience so much that I haven’t been exposed to yet. It’s kind of perfect that this is the year I’m moving and I plan to see the bridge. U2’s concert there will be 10 years old this November. I’m looking forward to walking along the bridge with U2 in my earbuds and honoring this significant show, as well as the new chapter in my life.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this essay is that U2 taught me to never give up when I felt like it was the easiest thing to do. Just don’t ever do it, even if you’re tempted to. Everything works itself out if you just believe and hold on and weather the storm. Because after all, like this song says, after the flood all the colors do come out.

(c) @U2/Marino, 2014

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Report: U2 Recording at The Church Studios in London

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U2 has reportedly been working on its new album at The Church Studios in north London, according to a report from Ham & High Broadway, a small newspaper covering that area.

The article says the band members have been spotted dining in the area "over the last few weeks." Maybe the most solid evidence is that the studio itself is now owned by Paul Epworth, who bought it not too long ago from artist David Gray. Billboard reported a couple weeks ago that U2 was planning to spend time in the studio with Epworth. About that same time, Epworth shared this studio image on Instagram:

Meanwhile, Ryan Tedder -- another producer that U2 has worked with -- recently talked to the London Evening Standard about it. He didn't offer any real specifics, but did kinda address the ongoing talk about U2 making radio-friendly music.

"Bono is without question the single-greatest modern-day lyricist out there," he says. "I hear it on the new stuff too -- just phenomenal. When I started OneRepublic, U2 were up there as a frame of reference. I use Bono's lyrics as a how-to guide for being the lead singer in a band. I have the utmost respect for their fans and I would never in a million years try to capitulate to where modern radio is at."

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Willie Williams: Next U2 Tour ‘Less Imposing’ Than 360

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File this one in the Not-A-Surprise folder: Willie Williams recently told a Canadian interviewer that planning for the next U2 tour has started and the tour will be "less imposing" than the U2 360 tour.

The comments are at the end of this ARTV.ca article (en Francais), which I think was first reported by U2achtung.com. According to the Google translate of the French text, this is what Williams said:

Do you participate in the next concept U2 tour?


Do you have a scoop to deliver us on this new concept?

It will be a less imposing than the previous tour show (From 2009 to 2011, the U2360 tour was the last to date).

No one should be expecting a bigger tour next time out, so this is no surprise. Not long ago, Bono said that U2's next tour would at least start indoors.

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Column: off the record…, vol. 14-611

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off the record, from @U2

It’s been three weeks since the Academy Awards and I have finally accepted “Let It Go” winning Best Original Song over “Ordinary Love.” I was cheering for U2, of course, but knew in my heart of hearts that the Disney machine couldn’t be beaten. After the ceremony, I listened to the nominees with a critical ear and came to a startling conclusion: “Let It Go” was as deserving of the Oscar as “Ordinary Love.” I can feel the collective blood pressure of the U2 community starting to rise, so before you come to my door with torches and pitchforks, allow me to explain.

From a musical perspective, both songs were Oscar-worthy. “Ordinary Love” is a fairly simple song about the most fundamental theme: love. But romantic love is not the subject here; it’s brotherly love. Individual romantic relationships cannot happen without first accepting and loving those who live with and around us. “We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.” “Let It Go” is necessarily musically complex because it is a song about complicated emotions. The clever lyrics and the crazy harmonic changes are symbolic of a character experiencing emotional turbulence and, ultimately, gaining self-confidence and a feeling of empowerment. This is an important message for everyone, but especially for the young girls who are part of Disney’s target audience. Make no mistake: I don’t think “Let It Go” is a better song than “Ordinary Love.” But it is an important song for today’s youth, and that’s why it also deserved to win.

I still want to hear “Ordinary Love” with the full electric setup. I absolutely loved the acoustic version the band performed on The Tonight Show, but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that they played essentially the same version at the Academy Awards. Before the show, I was convinced that they were going to pull out all the stops and just blow the roof off the theater with a fully “plugged-in” rendition. As an unabashed Adam Clayton fan, I wanted to see and hear the full version primarily because I wanted to see and hear him play that gorgeous bass line from the studio version of the song. And I wanted to hear Edge fill the theater with his trademark echo. I appreciate the level of restraint and understated nature of the performance, a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela. In my book it was easily the best musical performance of the night. I can’t help but imagine how much faster the audience would have stood and cheered if U2 had played it full-stop.

I’m having trouble digesting all the rumors about the new album as well as the supposed demise of the band. On the one hand, I’m like every other U2 fan out there: I want a new album, and I want it NOW. Based on what Bono’s been saying for the past several years, there’s more than enough new material to work with. Pick a production team, hole up in the studio for a couple of months, polish the songs and release the record. On the other hand, that’s not U2’s style. They have always done things on their schedule and it’s hard to argue with a method that has worked really well for the better part of four decades. We should trust that, by now, they know what they’re doing.

Perhaps it’s the eternal optimist in me, or maybe it’s because I cannot imagine U2 not being together, but the rumors of an impending breakup really bother me. I just don’t see this as the end because I don’t think U2 can end in a fizzle. I don’t think they would let it happen that way. They’ve been doing this for too long at too high a level to just dissolve. That’s not this band’s style. However and whenever it does finally end, it will a spectacle. It is U2, after all. How could it not?

That being said, I think these rumors are good for both the band and the material. It shows U2, Guy Oseary and the record label executives that the public still is interested. To use Bono’s word, U2 is still relevant. The public is waiting for this album, so it’s going to sell. It’s also going to put just the right amount of pressure on them to finish and (finally) release the album. After all, pressure makes diamonds.

Finally, for those who like electronic music with hints of rock, I suggest checking out Tycho (the stage name for California-based producer and musician Scott Hansen). I found Tycho’s music about a year and a half ago and can’t get enough. He paints broad soundscapes with a seemingly effortless sound that mixes electronic backbeats with lead and bass guitars. His new album, Awake, was released this past Tuesday, and the sounds on this record remind me a lot of U2. So, if you’re in the mood for some U2-flavored electronic instrumental music, Tycho fits the bill.

(c) @U2/Endrinal, 2014

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Fashion frontman Luke James recalls 1980 tour with U2

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“Hello. Are you Fàshiön?” asks a fresh-faced lad. “I’m Bono. I’m the singer with U2.”

“Very nice to meet you, Bongo,” (Fàshiön drummer) Dik says.

“Yeah, welcome to the big time, mate,” I say.

“Take no notice of them,” (Fàshiön manager) Annette says to Bono, who has a slight smile on his face. “No one else does.”

— Luke James, Stairway To Nowhere

Luke James has nothing but nice things to say about U2, even though they were the final catalyst in his exit from the music business.

After James’ British New Wave trio Fàshiön did a small tour of London clubs with U2 in 1980, the disillusioned frontman abandoned his band and fledgling music career.

James was burned out after only two years performing with Fàshiön, and U2 were distinctly on fire.

“They had this energy and belief that I had seen in our band a year earlier,” James said. “I was a little envious, but I was also really pleased for them. They were a great light. Even if there was only a small number of people in the crowd, they’d lift people up.”

It was a refreshing reversal from Fàshiön’s world: internal disputes, negative press, exhaustion, broken promises, drugs and alcohol, money woes.

James, who moved to the U.S. and has lived in San Francisco since 1988, is now happily married with two kids, has a day job working in sales for a print company and writes online for soccerly.com. In 2009 he published a book about his jaded musical journey, Stairway To Nowhere. The final portion of the self-published memoir includes James’ account of Fàshiön playing on a bill with U2 at nine clubs over 10 days in London in 1980, when they alternated as headliners. The book ends right after the co-tour, with James skipping out on his band and headed to France.

James, during a recent phone interview with @U2, laughed with a touch of self-deprecation when he talked about watching U2 recently on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and the Academy Awards.

“I remember sitting in a dressing room talking to Bono, both of us complaining about our record companies doing nothing to promote the band,” James said. “And here we are 35 years later, and he’s on the new Jimmy Fallon, and I’m watching it. And I’m very pleased for him.”

Fàshiön forward

Luke “Skyscraper” James (the nickname refers to his 6-foot-9-inch-tall stature), who was born Al James and at one time called himself Luke Sky (“when I was taking myself way too seriously,” he said), had reason to hope that Fàshiön would find fame.

Yes, the name is spelled with the accent and umlaut, but still pronounced like plain old “fashion.” The letter embellishments were part of the band’s image. Fàshiön’s founder and bass-synth player, John Mulligan, was an artist and style aficionado whose first poster for the band featured a Vogue model.

Fàshiön, featuring James on guitar and lead vocals, Mulligan on bass and synthesizer, and Dik Davis on drums, with Miki Cottrell as producer, formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band, which played a mix of punk-techno-reggae music, drew the interest of Miles Copeland, manager and producer for The Police. Fàshiön started out opening for The Police, The Cure, the B-52s and other bands. Duran Duran opened for Fàshiön.

The U2 gig came about after Fàshiön finished a three-month tour of the U.S. When they returned, Britain had mostly forgotten about them, or thought they broke up, James said, and Copeland was devoting all his energy to The Police. They had trouble landing any gigs, and agreed to tour with a new band from Ireland.

James said he noticed U2’s energy and charisma during the first show they played together, at the tiny Hope and Anchor, a cellar underneath a pub, when U2 performed “11 O’Clock Tick Tock.”

“It’s kind of like the first time I heard (Nirvana’s) ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’” James said. “I was pretty knocked back — these guys are really good. Within a few minutes I found myself smiling, and the next thing I know I’m jigging around and having fun. I said, ‘The joy in this, my God.’ They had that effect immediately on a kind of bored, jaded, dissatisfied, disgruntled musician. The energy came off the stage. Everybody in that place had a great time. And then we went on. Everybody went into a depression.”

James said the two bands didn’t mingle much, in part because Fàshiön drove home to Birmingham every night (they were short on money for hotels), and U2 stayed at bed-and-breakfasts.

“After the show they didn’t hang about much — there was nothing much to hang about for,” James said. “We’d mostly see them when we got there to set up and do sound check, some of the usual interband banter. They were very friendly.

“They were really nice guys. A lot of the people I met in my years in that world were — how shall I put this delicately — not the most decent human beings I’d ever met. I was in a pretty bad place mentally myself. So it was really nice to be able to work with some people who were just these decent young guys. They didn’t drink; they didn’t carouse; they didn’t do any drugs. That optimism and joy in what they were doing, I remember thinking: This is not right they should open for us.”

Bono being … Bono

James said his most vivid memory of U2 was a performance in Fàshiön’s hometown of Birmingham.

“At one point Bono gets this rose in his teeth and jumps off the stage,” James said. “The Edge and Adam Clayton jump down too, but they haven’t figured out how long their guitar cables are, so one of them is unplugged and the other falls over. Bono still has his vocals, and so he just goes into this thing with the drums, and this dance. When they come back in with the guitar and bass, it absolutely takes the roof off.”

James said Larry, Edge and Adam were “pretty quiet most of the time,” but he remembers having a few conversations with Bono, mainly about negative press coverage and unhelpful record companies, including a “really lousy review” for a gig Fàshiön did with U2. James included a quote from the review on the cover of his book: “These jesters probably think that the future of music is theirs.”

“They said horrible things about how shallow we were and how wonderful U2 were, which was great for them,” James said. “I was sitting next to Bono, and I said, ‘Why can’t they just say good things about you? They don’t have to talk crap about us.’”

According to James, Bono replied, “Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t matter what they say about you, as long as they spell your name right.” James then looked at the reviews … and the accent and umlaut were missing. “They even spelled our name wrong,” he said, laughing.

No regrets

“At the end of the tour, I quit, I ran away,” James said. “I went away in the sun in Bordeaux with my 19-year-old French girlfriend, which made more sense to me than freezing and starving in some little apartment in Birmingham waiting for a 50-pound gig. That was that. It was pretty legit, I think. I’ve since apologized.”

Fàshiön went on for a few more years with different band members. James said he and Mulligan have exchanged one email since 1979 and “buried the hatchet and wished each other well” in 2000, when producer Cottrell died. Davis has died as well.

James said he has “no regrets at all” about leaving Fàshiön because he’s “married to the love of my life and have these two incredible children. I’ve been clean and sober for seven years. If I’d been successful in commercial terms, I’d have been dead on a bathroom floor somewhere a long time ago. The best part of my life came late. I’m just so damn lucky to have gotten to it, the things that are really important.”

He said he’s channeled his “addictive personality” into writing — including a black-comedy novel he hopes to publish someday; acting (doing performance pieces of his writing); and reconnecting with his love of soccer.

James still dabbles in music, too. He has recorded “In Deep,” an album of songs he wrote while falling in love with his wife, Karin; and released Stairway To Nowhere (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fashionmusic2), a 30th-anniversary tribute to Fàshiön’s debut album, Product Perfect, featuring new songs written and played by James. He’s also learning to play flamenco guitar, an English style he calls “flamanglo.”

James’ YouTube page features a video of Fàshiön performing on the BBC in 1979.

James said he hasn’t seen U2 perform live since he left Fàshiön, although he’s watched their concert DVDs. “And I love that movie (It Might Get Loud) The Edge made with Jack White and Jimmy Page,” he said. “It’s guitar player porn.”

And he knows U2’s music.

“They never stopped with the awesome songs,” he said. “Every time you hear a U2 song, it’s never bad. I don’t know how they do it.”

One of the reasons he moved to the U.S., James said, was because “in Britain, they love nothing more than to drag you down. The amount of people I know who talk s**t about Bono for the work he’s trying to do … I don’t hear that here. It really ticks me off.”

‘Hi, U2’

James said he has never considered contacting the band. And if he did, “it’s not because I would want anything. It would be to say hi. I’d let them know I remember them as being a really great band and really great guys, and that it was kind of the bright spot at the end for me — a glimmer of light at the end of my so-called career. U2 that went on to burst into a shining light.”

(c) @U2/Lindell, 2014 

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Bono and Bill Gates are planning to go to the World Cup in Brazil

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Journalist Mônica Bergamo reports today in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that Bono and Bill Gates are planning to go to the World Cup in Brazil. We know they have been friends for a long time and both share the same passion for humanitarian work.

Bono has already talked about attending the World Cup, when he was with with the former president Lula in a meeting last year in London. They talked about the ONE Campaign and Brazilian projects to fight poverty. Bono said he would be in June in Brazil to watch the first match.

The same article also says Bono helped some children from Africa and India get a visa for the Street Child World Cup, which will happen next week in Rio de Janeiro. They had some difficulties so Bono got in contact with Brazilian politicians. Bono and Street Child United's organizers are friends. And just like it was reported before, Larry Mullen Jr. is also giving his support to this project.

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Poll Results: U2 Fans Prefer ‘Invisible’ Over ‘Ordinary Love’ By a Landslide

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In all the recent discussion of whether U2's new album will be released later this year, or maybe sometime in 2015, it's easy to forget that -- for the first time in years -- we do have two new U2 songs to listen to: "Ordinary Love" and "Invisible."

As these two songs were released, we ran three different polls to gauge how well U2 fans liked both songs. The results are pretty clear: You like both songs, but you prefer "Invisible" over "Ordinary Love" by a landslide.

During the month of February, more than 4,100 fans responded to our question asking which of the two songs you like better. "Invisible" was the definitive winner getting almost 74 percent of the votes cast.


But that's not to say fans didn't like "Ordinary Love" at all. Prior to the comparison question, we asked two separate poll questions inviting fans to rate each song on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best. Nearly 8,000 fans responded to the "Ordinary Love" poll (an all-time record), and about 80 percent of them graded the song at 3 or better.


"Invisible" did even better in its poll question, with 92 percent of the 4,800 respondents grading it at 3 or higher.


We've just posted a new poll question, asking whether you think U2's next studio will be released in 2014 or 2015. You can answer that question on our home page.

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U2 Lists: Top 10 U2 Songs to Use to Convert Non-Fans

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U2 Lists[Ed. note: This is the 56th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]

Like a preacher stealing hearts at a traveling show, I'm an unashamed full-on U2 evangelist. I can understand if Bono's causes annoy folks, or if their lyrics sometimes lean too Christian for the non-believing crowd, but I do have a tough time with people (especially musical people) who don't recognize the way the band has impacted the music landscape since their debut in the '70s.

I may not go door-to-door spreading my gospel, but I most certainly challenge friends and acquaintances who say they "don't care for" U2 or "never got into them." That to me is unacceptable. Everyone should realize that U2's catalog goes a lot further than "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Though I personally think that song is brilliant, it may be too political. I get it.

Whenever I encounter someone who is really dismissive of the band, I make a playlist for them and wait to see if my plan will work. The following 10 tunes are the core of my persuasion. Feel free to use them in your own defense. So far, I'm winning.

10. Mysterious Ways

This is a good one to start with because it was so popular during its prime and continues to enjoy semi-regular radio play. Most people already know it but forgot that they like it (or that U2 created it). The hook is undeniably catchy, the imagery associated with it features sexy belly dancers and celebrates the female spirit. What's not to love?

9. Angel Of Harlem

I dare you to play this one for your friends who possess serious soul—they won't be able to deny that they feel it. The classic, gritty arrangement born in Memphis tells of the band's first ride in a limousine in New York City. They recalled hearing Billie Holiday on the radio and made their lyrics a tribute to her legend.

8. Beautiful Day

It's so conventional it almost pains me to include it, but who can deny the way this song makes you feel on a sunny day, driving fast with the top down? Yeah, I thought so. It's mandatory for these purposes.

7. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me

Because this song was created for a Batman film, it isn't as "U2-ey" as some of their more mainstream songs. In fact, it's downright seductive in the way it pulls you into the story—from headaches to suitcases to turning tricks with a crucifix, there's a lot of ground covered here. And every ounce of it rocks.

6. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

For anyone who has ever had a complicated relationship with a parent, this song is bound to hit home. Bono balances paying tribute to his late father with detailing all that was wrong in their relationship and celebrating what he gained from it. It's a eulogy of cathartic forgiveness, passionately released if for no other reason than to get it out. If only all of us could extinguish our pasts with such grace.

5. Lemon

For the dancers among us, there's no better U2 song to put forth than this one. An infectious beat, a silly falsetto and layers of real meaning via the lyrics. Midnight is indeed where the day begins, and the result here is a burst of hip-shaking awakening.

4. Slow Dancing

I'll be the first to admit that country music is not my favorite. I can appreciate the early greats—Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, etc., but I've never been one for the modern stuff. That said, I do respect the genre, and songs like this Willie Nelson-injected ballad give me clarity as to why so many people embrace it.

3.  Vertigo

If you're old enough to remember the debut of this song, it probably conjures up memories of a certain iconic iPod commercial, starring four dapper rock stars. Though iPods have become almost obsolete since the advent of the smartphone, the electric energy captured in the moment here will never dissipate.

2. Stay

This song is so delicate and beautiful it's often an afterthought even for the most dedicated of fans. Bono is understated here in ways he seldom holds back, and the result is pure poetry. You can follow the fog of the riff all the way to the end, absorbing its beautiful calm.

1. Walk On (America: A Tribute to Heroes live version)

Though the song was written about Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, following 9/11 it assumed compound meaning, and this specific arrangement was performed in the wake of the attacks when everyone was raw from the pain. It's difficult to imagine anyone, American or otherwise, not moved by the conviction in Bono's voice and the power of the band's performance. It was unifying, healing and inspiring in the moment, and now lives on in a sonic time capsule of positive energy.

(c) @U2, 2014.

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