My Music Lexicon: U is for Undertones (and U2)

Throughout this year of stately progress through my music lexicon, it’s become pretty clear that the late teens is the most important time for the development and fixing of musical tastes. Much of that, naturally, has to do with the music that was current during that period of seething hormones and general angst. So, lucky me.

However, it’s also possible to appreciate something that came either earlier or later than the crucial period in question as expressing those historical personal feelings.

I was in my mid-twenties when punk came along, so a bit late for rebellion and rejection. A lot of punk left me cold, although I couldn’t hide a sneaky regard for the sheer fuck-the-lot-of-you nihilism of the Sex Pistols (encapsulated almost perfectly in ‘Pretty Vacant’).

But if there is one song from that era that could apply at any time it has to be this. In less than two-and-a-half minutes we have the perfect definition of what it is to be a teenager. No wonder it was John Peel’s favourite song.

Honourable Mention

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a supergroup such as U2 would be a shoo-in to take top billing as the Lexicon reaches U. But, as they say round these parts, “oui…mais non”.

And not only for the reasons set out above. I find that most of U2’s output is just okay. Probably more important than that though is that I know no way of leaving aside the fact that Bono is so far up himself that he sets my teeth on edge.

However, has there ever been a series of songs so powerful and compelling as the opening three tracks of their 1987 album The Joshua Tree? ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ followed by ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and ‘With Or Without You’. I’d extend that to the fourth track, ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ if it wasn’t so remarkably similar to the earlier – and better – second half of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ (just have a listen if you don’t believe me).

Be that as it may, if U2 deserve to be remembered for nothing else it’s that first fifteen minutes or so of The Joshua Tree. And this is how it starts:

My Music Lexicon

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