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I just finished watching Killing Bono, a mildly entertaining film, based on the book, “I Was Bono’s Doppleganger“, about the real-life school friends of U2, who went on to chase their own musical fame, only to continuously fall short. The band the protagonists form is hilariously bad. Here’s a genuine clip of them performing from the early 80s:
Here’s a marginally better earlier performance. They’re still dorky and I have a hard time picturing them hanging out with U2:
The film got me reminiscing about my own history with U2. While I find them oddly annoying these days, they were a major part of my life from the late 70s into the late 80s. Every teenager needs a soundtrack to denote triumph and heartbreak, and few did that better than these Irishmen.
But a more memorable anecdote is one I’ve told many times. I’ve even mentioned it on this blog a few times. But that was back when I still used an old HTML format, which isn’t easily searchable. So here’s the anecdote as I wrote it on Nov 7, 2004:
Sunday Nov 7, 2004. 5:30AM
My fondest U2 memory is of sneaking in to see them play 22 years ago with my Aryan buddy Nick Minde. We had bought scalped maintenance passes for $5 each; I think the venue was Massey Hall in Toronto. We pushed our way to the front row and were having a great time when Bono tossed an Irish flag into the audience. A couple of beered-up losers next to me started shoving over who got to keep the flag.
Now, this was back when all the cool 15 year olds wore Army surplus fatigues, and Nick and I were no exceptions. So Bono, mid-song, sees the disturbance at his feet, notices the two wide-eyed youths in army fatigues, puts 2 and 2 together and gets twelve. “We don’t fight over flags here,” he snarled directly to me. “That’s what the song is about!” Actually, that wasn’t what that particular song was about, but I gave the guy some slack; he was a foreigner, after all. Now, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but at that point a bolus of saliva left Bono’s mouth and landed on my person. In all honesty, I can make no conclusions about whether that bolus was projected or directed, but I do like to tell people that Bono Vox spat upon me. And yes, I still use the “Vox” ’cause if you’re gonna choose a pretentious stage name, it should stick to you like fresh dog poop.
I tells ya, one day I’m going to leverage all my global health connections to meet the man. And then I strongly intend on returning the gesture.
In the mean time, I leave you with their 1985 performance of “Bad” at Live Aid. It’s a powerful performance that has gone down in the annals of rock history as one of legend, and I certainly remember watching it live on TV, spellbound. But that particular song, back then, was the soundtrack of my particular heartbreak, as all teenagers must endure. So it’s nice to be able to watch the clip at age 45 and not feel like crap anymore: