22 January 2007

11 take this tangle of conversation and turn it into your own prayer


it's been a week of boxes and moves and at least 3,200 diet cokes. in the midst of this, there was u2. because there's always u2. they're my home base. we may go some days or months without each other, but i always come back.

recently, it has been nothing but pop, an album that i've always appreciated for its jarring incompleteness. the band got rushed and didn't have time to relentlessly perfect and dope it down. as a result, pop is a raw spiritual undoing splashed in enough glitter that it can almost masquerade as a party.

it's an odd juxtaposition, and it can be hard to take it all in. u2 albums are legendary for their cohesiveness. listening to pop is like reading a book of short stories when you were expecting a novel.

it's a tangle of chatter and tight spots and fast escapes and sudden shifts. the pop in the title isn't just pop music. it's the pop that comes after the exhilaration and freedom of achtung baby and zooropa. it's the bubble's burst.

to me, it's as though the protagonist has found himself at a strip club in the middle of the day, and it suddenly hits home how far he's wandered. in "mofo" he pleads with his dead mother to show him how to get out of the mess he's in. and that's pretty much the high point. you wind up with him on his knees, speaking directly to Jesus, pleading, wake up, dead man- with someone talking in the background all the while, as if to emphasize his insignificance.

this sounds terribly depressing, but i swear it's not. because of all u2's albums, i think this is the most honest. it captures them in a weird moment- on a bender in southern france struggling with the pressures of their art, their addictions, their women and their past. it's not all pretty ("miami" is a damn ugly song), but it's there. it's their bullshit. it's real.

this past week as i dismantled la petit maison de oh!-'lighn, packed the pieces of my life into boxes, tossed the vieve in her carrier, and carted us all half a block down the street to la new less petit maison de oh!-'lighn, i listened to pop day and night, over and over. and for the first time, it wasn't jarring or incomplete. it was just a glitzy little exhausted naughty mess. unapologetically so. and that's rather beautiful. what a pity the boys have been apologizing for it ever since.

11 comments:

Les Savy Ferd said...

why is it i have the uncanny inclination to save any and all cardboard boxes i happen to come across? why is this, Oline?

oline said...

we should've been math majors. imagine the romance of just grabbing your calculator and running out the door.

Les Savy Ferd said...

Math is the great Satan of academic pursuits.

oline said...

wow. i just sneezed with laughter.

Les Savy Ferd said...

great satan!

oline said...

clearly that's what evil man exclaimed when he stabbed baby.

Les Savy Ferd said...

first the snow-man and now the baby? is there a sequel i don't know about?

here's my beef against math. The way i see things, math equations are like really boring magic spells. In math you need to follow a bunch of gibberish, adding a polynomial here, dividing by the square root there and you know what? There is only one right answer. If you don't arrive at that right answer all you get is a failing grade in math class.

But magic spells... for those you need a pinch of this and a jigger of that, some latin mumbo-jumbo that produces the intended spell. But if you don't do everything just right you don't fail, you end up with big fun. big unpredictable turn your sister into an purple elephant, set the dog on fire, raise the dead, time-travel, holes in space-time continuum fun.

or at least thats what the children's books of my youth taught me.

oline said...

sometimes, pirate, you leave comments that practically demand framing.

Les Savy Ferd said...

even though I used the word 'beef' in a non-meat related context?

oline said...

well, really it was more for the magic spells/big fun segment but i'd be willing to grandfather the beef bit in.

and only just realized that i stabbed baby instead of the snowman. oops. murderess!

Les Savy Ferd said...

not just murder... infanticide!