When I initially think of U2′s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, off of 1987′s The Joshua Tree, I think of how it and the album immediately captured me as an 8-year-old. While I do somewhat remember 1984′s The Unforgettable Fire, it was this song and video which really got me started on a lifetime of U2 fanaticism. I also recall that no other album shaped my second grade experience like that one did.
Like a lot of songs, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For has changed in meaning for me over the years. Sometimes, you can listen or watch or read something 1,000 times but on the 1,001st, you pick on something completely fresh. I had this very experience while watching this video on VH1 Classic about a year ago. As you might recall, it features all four members of U2 walking through the streets of Las Vegas. Which I guess is fine. But towards the end of the video, Bono can be seen jumping all over someone’s expensive sports car. That’s when it hit me: such behavior wasn’t cool, it wasn’t rock-n-roll, it was just rude. I don’t care who you are, I would find it unfavorable if you were sliding all over my nice car. Plus, it’s Las Vegas, the desert, and you’re wearing dark jeans. The last thing I need is your Irish swamp rubbing up on the hood of my vehicle.
Once I had that realization, my mind did a little more digging into the U2 video catalog. I remembered as a kid loving the video where U2 “spontaneously” appears on an L.A. rooftop to shoot Where The Streets Have No Name (I would soon learn that this was actually an ode to The Beatles last public performance, which was on the rooftop of their recording studio). As a child, I always found this video to be exciting. The crowd frenzy, Bono’s moves, the band playing on until the LAPD physically stopped them; I was enamored by all of it. But now? All I see is that U2 shutdown downtown LA in the middle of the day and, as someone who works and lives in a city, I just find it annoying.
In 2004, U2 performed on a flat-bed truck that took them through Manhattan all the way to Brooklyn, where they put on a secret show. The flat-bed performance became a video for the song All Because of You. It’s a great song so for years, I really enjoyed the video. But once again, maturity has given me clarity. Why do you have to shutdown New York City during the work week? We get it, you’re the biggest band in the world, but be humble. Should us New Yorkers thank you for making our crap commutes even crappier?
So, I’ve come to the realization that I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Where The Streets Have No Name, and All Because of You are a trilogy. The common theme? Bono might be a humanitarian but when it comes to holding up traffic he’s a total dick. “Oh you’re trying to erase third-world debt? That’s great, can you get the fuck of the road, now?”