I spent Saturday afternoon, June 4, in the company of some of my warm, funny, smart colleagues from @U2. I spent Saturday evening inside U2's music; inside myself.
It was a phenomenal day. The music was magic as only experts can make it: so fresh and new that it's easy to forget it comes from years of practice and the utter willingness of the artists to surrender to the moment. I saw in the band, and felt in myself, intimacy and trust and passion and personal connection under the clear night sky in a stadium of 65,000 people. Pretty amazing.
And a sort of homecoming for me.
Here's why: I've been a U2 fan for 30 years. I love these guys. A lot of their music is identity music for me, songs that speak to me so much of myself that I can hear them and remember who I am even when the fog is thick around me, even when I'm standing on the wrong side of one of my own internal canyons. Even when I'm scared. But most especially when I am not scared. Most especially when I am full of joy and confidence, when I love both myself and the world, the music of U2 has been my music too.
But the last few years, I've not been finding so much power in the new music. I like it, it's good, I can listen to it for an hour and then move on. It's smart, it's political, it's full of allusion, there are love songs ... but it's not intimate (for me) and it hasn't brought me those moments of Oh!, that frisson of finding myself inside a song. And that's what I want from U2. I want the intimacy that only music creates between artist and audience: I sing you.
And so here's the thing: I've had tickets to this show for 2 1/2 years, and I almost didn't go. I'm tired and I have a lot on my plate right now, and I was frightened of being on my feet for hours, crushed against people who would go get a beer because they didn't recognize the song and were only there to video the hits on their iPhone. I was frightened of being unable to see or hear the music, unable to feel it. Unable to find myself there. I just wasn't sure I could bear it.
But I went. Because I love these guys, and part of love is trusting that someday we will understand each other again. I also went because @U2 -- the site, the team, the work we do -- is important to me, and we rarely get to see each other.
I'm so glad I went. My @U2 compadres are savvy about concert logistics, so we ended up in what I am convinced was the best place in the stadium -- perfect sound, great view of the entire set, no one at our backs, and plenty of space for me to dance or to lift up my arms in exultation. A place like an open door into a room big enough for 65,000 people, and small enough for just me and my band. I'm forever grateful to my @U2 friends. I never would have found that open door without them.
And then U2 walked in and played.
It was magnificent.
On Saturday, June 4, U2 and I came home to each other. It turns out we have just as much to talk about as we ever did. Through the music, we still speak of love and yearning, the complexity of life, the power of the human spirit, and the smack-you-in-the-heart simplicity of joy.
And so it begins again, my love affair with U2. Bono said that night, "If there is one idea that underpins our band, it's the idea that you can start again. And today we are starting again."
Then they played me. Then they sang me. I'm so glad I was there to hear it.
© @U2/Eskridge, 2011