Thursday, December 4, 2008

107. U2 - Boy

1980. I was working at a radio station, answering the phones, taking requests and running contests. This album came in and the station wanted to push it.

I gave it a listen and immediately loved it. Every song was incredible. Every note was mesmerizing. The music was full and lush, yet spare at the same time. And there was a soulful darkness about the album, something that made me want to listen to it alone, to take it home and study it and play it over and over again until I knew every word and note by heart.

The album was not in stores yet. This was a pre-release or something like that and our radio station had ten copies to give away so they could start the big push to get U2 noticed. So they did a call in contest. First ten people to call win the album by this yet unheard of band. I took the calls. Congratulated the winners. All nine of them.

The tenth "call" was from my cousin, whose name, unbeknownst to him, was put on the list of winners along with his address and I faked congratulated the dial tone that was playing the part of my cousin.

The next day I told that cousin to expect a package at his house from the radio station, and that it was really for me. I waited. Two days. Three days. No call from the cousin. Four days. Five days. Finally, I went to his house to see if he maybe got the record, but forgot to call and tell me it was there. His girlfriend let me in and the first thing I heard was that voice. That earnest, sweet voice singing Stories for Boys and I ran into the living room screaming "Hey, that's MY album!" to which he replied, "You are never getting this. I won it, remember? It's rightfully mine." I looked on the coffee table and there was the album cover, gloriously stamped in gold "Not for resale. Promotional use only." I sighed. I reached for it. He threatened to call the radio station and tell them what I did. I left, dejected.

Of course, I bought my own copy, which I still have today. It's one of the few U2 things I kept in the great "I'm poor, let's do eBay" fire sale of 1999. It reminds me of the radio station, of what a brat my cousin was and still is, and of the days before Bono tried to save the world.

Favorite song: Out of Control
U2 wiki

6 comments:

Carin said...

My husband got us awesome seats a few years back for our anniversary (I mean, great seats) - and they did a number of songs from this album. "I will Follow", "out of control", "stories for Boys", and "Electric Co."

Ken said...

their first few albums are great. not sure if you've seen the south park episode on how bono's the biggest crap... very funny.

Jim said...

Boy was a seminal album in the development of my musical tastes, the direction of modern rock, and the creation of my family. Seriously.

Three years after its release, 1983, this album is still in heavy rotation in my Mustang's cassette player. I've just started dating the girl that would one day be my wife. Madonna just hit the music scene hard and it was nearly impossible to get away from her first single, "Lucky Star." I was determined to never have to hear that song again.

I gave this new girl a speech that, in essence, said: No Madonna in my car. Only bands like U2, Boy was being played.

Fast-forward five years later, the girl and I were being married. Our wedding song was a piano ballad written by the band The Alarm. The Alarm, as far as I'm concerned, played music inspired by U2's early work.

Tah-dah.

steelopus said...

A few years ago when U2 was performing live on some crappy awards show, I was sitting in bed watching it with my then-girlfriend. She asked "why are we still watching this crap?" and without hesitation I responded "Because, if Bono gets assassinated on live television, and I missed because I had changed the channel, I'd never be able to live with myself."

Fuck Bono. Then, strap him to a throne (where he thinks he belongs) and torch the thing.

GiromiDe said...

I wish I could have known U2 from the beginning like that. Though their songs through the 80s and early 90s got plenty of air play, I didn't pick up anything until Zooropa. That is a weird place to start with them.

Bono is who he is. I just like the music he and his mates create.

I wish they would reach as far back as Boy and October (a very undercelebrated work) and do that kind of raw music again. They need to get away from the quasi-Spektor Eno/Lanois combo they have chained themselves too since the mid-80s.

Solonor Rasreth said...

Boy, October, War, Under A Blood Red Sky...that's where th U2 I fell in love with begins and ends. I like Joshua Tree, but I don't love it. And that's where they became a different band for me.

I equate U2 with REM. I loved both of them in college when they were new and fresh. I'm "meh" about them ever since.