Music History

The Gospel of U2, Leonard Cohen and Sufjan Stevens

Feeling slightly spiritual today?  Read this from The Weeklings.

“You gotta hear this band…” my friend Todd said, waving a white LP cover. It was 1981, we were sixteen, and Todd was evangelical about new music. He was in a Goth-y phase: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Cramps, et al; LPs and singles played at full volume on his dad’s ancient hi fi. I liked these bands well enough, but I didn’t love any of them, much as I wanted to. As he put the record on the spindle, I braced for more gloomy fare.

“They’re from Ireland, these guys,” Todd said. “And… they’re Christian.”

“Like Christian rock?” I was stunned. “Like… folk mass stuff?”

Todd was a weird kid, and full of perverse surprises, especially since adolescence had kicked in, but… Christian rock? From Ireland, land of Lucky, the Lucky Charms leprechaun? No way. Although his parents and my grandparents were religious, we’d both decided that was all bullshit. Hadn’t we?

Todd answered by placing the crusty needle on side one, track one, and cranking it: “I Will Follow” screamed from the tattered speakers like an air-raid siren. He banged his red hair to the pealing electric guitar riff and strange, plinking sound (a glockenspiel). When the rhythm section fell in, fuzzy bassline high in the mix, my heart surged. I was a fledgling bass player, and immediately thought, “I want to do that. I can do that.” (Todd was a guitarist, and my de facto bass teacher.) When the singer opened his mouth, I gasped and laughed. It sounded like he was sobbing.

“They’re called U2,” Todd shouted.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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