Album Two: U2 “Under a Blood Red Sky”

Album Two: Under a Blood Red Sky

At some point during 1981, as a 7th grade girl in Kentucky, I stumbled across a still relatively unknown group from Ireland.  At first glance, it seemed like an unlikely pairing.  I was in the throes of adolescence and all of the angst that goes along with it, while these musicians were launching their career and singing of much more substantial matters.  They sang about political strife and unrest in Ireland and the complexities of relationships, and I was focused on figuring out dating and homework.  My relationship with U2 has ebbed and flowed over the years, but Under a Blood Red Sky solidified it.

I made my way through Boy, October, and War, and I was intrigued by their music.  It was not until the 1983 release of Under a Blood Red Sky, though, that I was all in.  This album was different from the previous three, as it was recorded live at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and their live performance infused their songs with a heightened level of passion and intensity that mesmerized me.  I went from merely listening to their music to feeling their music.

I vividly recall having this album on heavy rotation during my early high school years, as I tried to keep my head above the turbulent teen waters that sometimes left me feeling like I was drowning.  Every time I played Under a Blood Red Sky, I felt like I was front row center in the audience, as the band’s energy emanated through the speakers and filled my bedroom.  As a teenage girl, I possessed a head full of thoughts and a heart full of feelings, and I often struggled with what to do with them.  The eight live tracks that make up this album provided me with a release of my hidden emotions.

From the frenetic beats of  I Will Follow and The Electric Co. to the subtle power of 40 and Party Girl, I felt a kinship to U2 and their music.  I look back quite fondly on this album, because until their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, I felt like U2 was one of the best kept musical secrets in the world.  I enjoyed the fact that not too many of my friends even knew who they were, and I selfishly felt a bit of sadness when they shot to international fame.  The secret was out, and there was no turning back.

U2 remained my favorite band until well into adulthood, and then, our relationship ran its course.  The albums that followed the 2004 release of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb simply did not resonate with me, no matter how hard I tried to like them.  That is not to say that I do not still enjoy their music, as I certainly do, but I gravitate toward what I call my U2, the U2 of my youth and early adulthood.

Under a Blood Red Sky always takes me on a trip down a musical memory lane, and it is responsible for igniting my passion for live performances.  I have seen U2 twice in concert, and those two shows were separated by 30 years.  The first show was in Indianapolis on 11-1-87 on The Joshua Tree tour.  The second show was in Foxborough on 6-25-17, when they went back out on tour to play The Joshua Tree in its entirety, along with some fan favorites and new music.

During the latter show, when they opened with Sunday Bloody Sunday, I experienced the same feelings of excitement and joy that I felt when listening to Under a Blood Red Sky alone in my bedroom.  I felt a sense of belonging and being understood, just as I did as an adolescent.  Music is powerful, and often, it says what I cannot articulate and expresses feelings that I cannot share.  So, while U2 and I may no longer be on the same page musically, I will forever be grateful to them for giving me this album.  It is a keeper.

That’s another story . . .


Categories: That's Another Story

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3 replies

  1. Aww – you hit the best ever title about U2 and then the details of your story is simply stunning to read!! BRAVO

    Liked by 1 person

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