Oh hell, while we're at it: Larry, Adam and the Edge for cabinet.
After a long afternoon of negotiating tall orange cones in preparation for Jacob's driving exam (which he passed! Second time's the charm), followed by the usual rush to figure out dinner and then post meal clean-up, I felt I deserved a little excursion beyond these four lime green walls. So at 9:07, I hopped in my ever-so-soccer-mom van and headed to the local cinemaplex with IMAX screen to worship, I mean, watch the concert I had already seen live twice (once from the floor this close to Bono's spit and sweat).
Ticket bought, I entered the huge theater with assigned seat... to find the auditorium utterly empty. I felt about as subtle as a guy in a trench coat. I ignored my assigned location and picked the middlest velvety fold-down chair available. I donned the conspicuous black and green glasses, scooched cozily and got ready to weep. I always weep when U2 plays.
Without commercials or fanfare, the big screen lit up and the introductory credits to National Geographic (producers of the 3D event) popped out at me. My private, intimate, sentimental journey to two concerts past had begun. And I'd get a lot of face time with Bono.
Suddenly on the right: "Oh my God! Oh my God! This is sooooo AWESOME guys! Oh my God, oh my God!" Thunk, trip, stumble, giggle, smack each other on the shoulder.
"Hey!" one of them called to me. "Come party with us. Come party with us!"
A blonde and a brunette stumbled into the row in front of me, slopping beer, waving arms, followed by three dudes, one of whom sincerely thrust his can of Bud in my direction, "Have some."
"That's okay," I said waving him off.
The girls turned around. "Seriously, come party with us! You have to. Oh my God! Look at him. Bono is gorgeous. Is he gorgeous? Stop it! I swear he is."
The brunette wheeled around at me, "He is so gorgeous! Isn't he? Isn't he?" She wanted support because her boyfriend was laughing. Then her blonde friend agreed and they went back to screaming and howling and woo-hooing and waving their arms and dancing with their beers... followed by more urgings for me to party with them, "seeeeeriously."
"Vertigo" was well under way by then and I was seeeeeeeriously worried. My private church service had been ambushed by drunks who apparently didn't know much of U2's catalog as they barely recognized "Vertigo," and didn't know "Some Times You Can't Make It on Your Own" as evidenced by the question Brunette threw at me. "Is this a make-out song? It sounds like a make-out song. I want to make out!" she shouted to no one in particular.
The three guys directly in front of me stayed seated. The one who offered me beer seemed concerned that my movie viewing experience might get doused by screams. Uh, yeah. So he invited me to sit with him. Ha! "That's okay, bud. I'll stay here."
That didn't stop him from creating a conspiratorial friendship with me. He high-fived me at several key fist-pumping moments, offered me his beer several more times, and finally told me, "I like you."
The girls continued (I'm not kidding) to yell at me to "party with them, you know you want to" for half the movie. I finally told them that I "party in my own way."
Friendly Dude twisted in his seat to get a good look at me. "That's cool. I do too. You know I was smoking a joint before I came in and a cop saw me. I was like, 'Oh dude.' So I tossed my joint before he could see it. Then I was like 'Damn, where is it?' once he left. But I found it. So it was all good. You know what I mean."
One of the girls interrupted again, telling me that having already been to concerts, I had to stand up and party with her. Friendly Dude intervened: "She parties in her own way. Leave her alone. She's stoned." Then he high-fived me. Rock on!
That's the first time in my life I've ever been accused of or gotten credit for being stoned... and I'm 46 years old. Rock on!
He asked me, "You married?"
"With five kids."
That cooled his jets.
He still knuckled me when we both knew that Bono had been extra cool, but the invitations to sit with him vanished.
Now you're probably wondering if I ever saw or could even hear the movie. I panicked initially. I wanted to focus on things I don't get to in concerts - like the purity of the sound, the close ups, the way the Edge struts when he plays, Larry's flying sticks and Adam's craggy face. I wanted to let Bono cast his spell. Would I get that soaring sense of YES that I love so much when I listen to U2, or merely wind up with fodder for my blog?
I had to make a decision. Did I want to be the snob who moved to the back of the theater to be alone? Did I want to come back another night? Suddenly, in an instant, I yielded to the whole experience. Their urgings to join them made me laugh. We talked about the band while they played. I hushed them to silence for "Miss Sarajevo" (my hands-down favorite song from that tour). When Bono finished his operatic virtuoso performance of the Pavarotti part, Other Friendly Dude turned to me to say, "He's money." Damn if he isn't!
Slowly, like spinning a web, I got sucked into the U2 vortex. On that huge screen, with close-up lips and crinkled brow, Bono brought his lyrics to life.
You give me something I can feel
I want to be with you, be with you night and day
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth, after the flood all the colors came out
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
Lay down your guns
All your daughters of Zion
All your Abraham sons
I don't know if I can make it
I'm not easy on my knees... Love and Peace
How long must we sing this song? How long? how long... cause tonight...we can be as one
Across the field you see the sky ripped open
See the rain come through the gaping wound
Pounding on the women and children who run into the arms of America
Is there a time for tying ribbons?
A time for Christmas trees?
Is there a time for laying tables
When the night is set to freeze?
What more in the name of love?
And when I go there, I go there with you (it's all I can do)
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other
Look, I gotta go, yeah I'm running outta change
There's a lot of things if I could I'd rearrange
I can't live with or without you
Take this soul, stranded in some skin and bones; take this soul and make it sing... This love is like a drop in the ocean.
The overarching theme from 30 years of writing songs is that we can't live with or without each other, so we'd better figure out a way to get along. It really is love and peace, or else. The colors do come out after the flood, if we'll pay attention, if we'll recognize that there's a time for everything under the sun. Life is not about making it on your own. Survival means we aren't the same but we get to carry each other. There's so much we'd like to change, to rearrange, but we're stuck with what we've got. So we sing: How long? How long must we sing this song?
Even the plaintive psalm at the end ("Yahweh"): Please make this soul sing... the love I've got is like a drop in the ocean... but it's still love and I'll sing it anyway.
By the end, I was a wreck of emotion. This strange political battle we're in where lines are drawn, convictions are Stood For as proof of some impenetrable value system, where attacks on the opposition prove your inflexibility and credibility... Something has to change! We have to carry each other. We have to have love and peace, or else.
Strangely, I had just lived through love and peace, or else, with my beer drinking stoned movie-viewing mates.
The original final line of "Yahweh" is "Take this heart, and make it break." Last night, as Bono crooned through the 3D credits, a giant heart beat on the jumbo marquis lights screen behind him. It grew in size, thumping and pumping. I expected to see it shatter into a million pieces as he let out the last lyric.
This time, suspended on the final note before, Bono switched the words and ended the song:
Take this heart, and make it safe.
The heart continued to beat.
Bono and his bandmates have been urging us for 30 years to do just that—we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. It's up to us to keep each other safe.
For a review of the actual movie, you can't do better than this one:
Out of Frame: U2 3D