(Each month, @U2 puts a spotlight on U2 fans with our "Question of the Month." We pose a question to our readers and invite answers of 200 words or less. If you're interested in taking part, check our home page to see if the current question is still open. If not, check back shortly after the beginning of next month and we'll have another question ready to be answered!)
Kevin Hawkey: October was my introduction to U2. It almost didn't happen. I was 12 years old, lying in bed late one night listening to my new stereo. I had trouble sleeping due to the emotional turmoil I was under. My sister had died a few years earlier and her death hit me as my parents' marriage was also crumbling.
"Gloria" came on the radio and I was immediately captivated. The message of hope spoke to my wounded soul. The radio station didn't say who it was though so I went from record store to record store singing what I could remember, hoping to find the song and artist. It was a "God" thing when one of the record stores was playing it when I went in!!!!
Mowing grass paid for my cassette tape of October. I couldn't wait to put "Gloria" on... I played it over and over, rewinding each time the song completed.
"I Threw A Brick Through A Window" was an instant favorite. I loved Larry's drumming style. I would dance around my room to this song... The structure of the song was so creative, like nothing I'd ever heard.
The song that stole my heart away was "Tomorrow." Instantly, goosebumps spread across my skin as the guitar/horn sound filled my room. The lyrics were made for me. I felt like Bono was singing my words of grief and pain to my sister. And it all paralleled my own spiritual questioning of God and why things happen the way they do. In the end, never letting grief remove faith, rather letting faith overcome the pains of this world. This song remains one of my top 5 U2 songs ever. Amazing song.
In summary, Boy was groundbreaking but October was raw. It was a band putting their skin in for everyone to see, touch and experience. It set the tone for more vulnerability and experimentation. It was the record that hooked me and I've been a diehard fan ever since.
Joey Visser: I became fan of U2 in 2002. At the time, I started to listen to all the U2 albums. From the beginning, I felt very uncomfortable with October. For a band which had success with their first album, it is extremely important to have a good second album, which became October for U2.
I started to listen to this album with another vision, especially when "Gloria" made her tour debut during the Vertigo Tour. I think this song is a great opening for this album, very light, very strong. The second song, "I Fall Down," is also a good song which I liked more after I heard a live peformance in Hattem, The Netherlands. It was recorded in the early 80's and really great to listen to.
"I Threw A Brick Through A Window" is also a nice song, but glad they don't play it live anymore. "Rejoice" is a song I definitely want to hear live again, very strong song by The Edge. "Fire" isn't a song that l like. The lyrics are quite the same all the time, and therefore I don't like it.
And then "Tomorrow," perhaps the best song on this album. I really like the first 'quiet' part, and the faster second part fits perfectly. Also love the intro on this song, and Bono's voice is very strong. Really great song. And then "October." Great piano song which brings a good balance into this album. I think I want to hear that song as well live. Perhaps as an intro before "Moment Of Surrender," but I don't like it as an intro before New Year's Day (what they often did).
"With A Shout (Jerusalem)" is also a nice, uptempo song. I think Bono's voice should have been a bit lower, then it would fit perfectly for me. "Stranger In A Strange Land" is a song I don't like. The lyrics are very good, but I don't like the guitar, it is quite the same all the time, this is true for the drums as well and the end of the song isn't that good…just a fade out. And then "Scarlet." Didn't like this song 'till I heard it again during the 360 Tour. I must say, I really like the piano in this song. I prefer the ending during the 360 Tour above the ending of the album. "Is That All" is also a great song. It borrows the guitar riff of "Cry," really nice opening of this song. This song is also a perfect closing song for this album. Very strong, you won't fell asleep after hearing this album!
Loren Toy: I think October is one of U2's more underrated albums. I think what is remarkable about this album is the circumstances under which this album was recorded -- Bono losing the notebook which had the lyric ideas & notes for the second album, consequently forcing Bono to improvise the lyrics and come up with ideas from scratch at the start of their recording sessions. Also, the internal turmoil the band was facing as they (Bono, Edge, & Larry) tried to reconcile their Christianity with their chosen profession (rock star). In the end, October represents a maturation of the band from their debut album to their sophomore effort, not just musically, but also in the themes and ideas that are explored.
By no means is it one of their best albums, but in terms of U2's body of work, October ranks as either their 7th or 8th best album.
James Tyree: October? Hmmm ...
October normally ranks as my least favorite U2 album, but that's not to say it's a bad album. It's not. It has shining moments and it's certainly better than many albums out there. But in its totality, October just doesn't measure up to U2's other albums.
Having said that, I still love "Gloria" and like "Tomorrow," "October" and "I Threw a Brick Through a Window." Also, my daughter and I have a tradition of beginning and ending the month of October by playing the song "October" on CD. One of us plays it on the morning of Oct. 1 (right after playing Green Day's "Wake Me When September Ends") and then only the song "October" on Halloween night before she heads to bed.
So yes, October is last on my list of U2 albums -- but I'm glad it's on the list at all.
Chris Anderson: As said on many occasions before, definitely an air of unfinished business about the album. A lot of the lyrics sound like they were the first words that Bono sung and didn't bother to refine, focus or change because there wasn't time. "Scarlet" is the clear weakness where that is concerned. One word repeated three times and not a single other lyric. The songs as pieces of music and some of the melodies sound rushed in places; "Tomorrow" is the song that epitomizes that for me. Another couple of weeks working on it sounds like it would have done the song the world of good.
I think the rushed, directionless feel of the album is probably summed up by "Is That All?" being on October. The snippet called "Cry" that the band would use before live versions of "The Electric Co.," with a different set of lyrics that don't even sound like they have a properly melody, had no place on the album.
Matt Catalano: I posted this in the October Worship thread in April 2010:
Without even realizing it, for the last two or three years that I've participated in the ATU2 fan poll, I've voted for October as most underrated album. I always go down to October vs. Pop. But I think October is the album people need to find. I'm a movie buff and I'll set up an analogy that explains it best:
Boy was like Batman Begins, such a strong blueprint for the saga of Batman allowing director Christopher Nolan to use big bold strokes on his plain canvas.
October is then like The Dark Knight. With it being a rare feat of the near-flawless original reimagined and presented on a much larger scale, with added tension and dimension. It feels more real, more layered, like there's more than meets the eye.
To me, that's October as opposed to its baby brother Boy.
Ronan Martin: The music on October is very good but the lack of lyrics on many tracks is what brings this album down. Bad luck Bono losing his notebook. Nowadays all that is stored in the "cloud".
Colleen Schutte: "October and the trees are stripped bare..." has a poignancy in images that linger, haunting the eyes of my heart, evoking inner landscapes that seem to reach into the eternal, finding me in a more immediate way. Leaves whose colors have muted only to be swept about in gusts of wind, are laid to rest entangled with debris. But it's early fall, and there's an exuberance palpable in the air as the sun shines through magically colored leaves. It may be this paradox that so poetically renders the essence of my favorite season. Capturing the breadth of life's journey in one of nature's most vibrantly sensual displays. Amongst the falling, dying leaves, my thoughts turn inward to those intimate vistas, and the abiding questions of destiny, mortality and transcendence. "Giving rise to my thirst and need for God."
Breathtaking colors unique to each tree succumb to an inevitable death, reminding me that each of us is an original of the species. Perhaps the demise of the hopes, dreams, relationships, and loved ones we all endure serves as a canvas upon which are deepest hues are saturated, imbuing a patina that can transform the soul. Much like the starkly forlorn trees shorn of their splendor remain rooted all winter to be born anew. Whilst I'll never have the answer to loss in this lifetime, the wistfully beautiful, transient disposition of October offers me a different perspective to view my experiences in the cycle of life it symbolizes, and the reality that "kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, But you go on."
(c) @U2/individual contributors above, 2012.