Friday, January 25, 2013


U2 has been my favorite band since freshman year of high school, when a friend purchased The Unforgettable Fire cassette for me as a birthday present. I quickly became obsessed and pirated U2's entire back catalog from one friend or another. If there is a soundtrack to my high school years, U2 is it.

I have remained a huge fan (except for Zooropa--let's not even discuss that--and, only to a slightly lesser degree, Pop), own all their albums, and have seen them in concert three times (two in adulthood). When my husband purchased my first iPod for me back in the day, he gave me the U2-branded 3rd generation iPod that came with U2's entire catalog. My iTunes library contains 460 songs by U2.

After my last post, a high school friend reminded me of the time I forced him to listen to 40, doing my best to show him the error of his disregard for the band. The comment reminded me that I hadn't listened to any of this excellent music in quite some time, so today I did.

Sunday Bloody Sunday played, and I could smell the lingering odor of stale beer in Matt's car and see his fingers drumming the steering wheel of his Camaro on our way to school.  Bad came on, and I could feel the squeak of the seat and smell the rubbery scent of a school bus in the dark on the way home from a swim meet. As Where the Streets Have No Name ramped up, I could hear the roar of the crowd in Cleveland Municipal Stadium and feel the excitement in my chest at the opening song of The Joshua Tree tour.

I listened to these favorite songs, associated with some of the best memories of my teenage years, and felt a heaviness in my chest akin to sadness. The music caused such strange, disconnected reactions--happiness in my head and heaviness in my heart--that I spent much of the afternoon trying to deduce the cause. I finally realized that the heaviness I felt wasn't sadness, but melancholy. Perhaps angst. The songs not only immediately brought back the sights, sounds, and smells of high school, but the emotions of high school as well. Egad.

I suppose it was the hormones. In my mind, high school is synonymous with strong feelings. Every emotion was intense. Intense joy or intense pain. Intense love or intense anxiety. It didn't matter what it was; it was always intense and emotional.

Until now, I've never considered myself to have been an angst-ridden teenager. Then I looked up the definition of angst and realized that all teenagers are angst-ridden.


1. A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.

2. A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial.

Sure, a fair number of teenagers suffer from the first definition, but isn't the latter the very essence of the teenage years?

There's the familiar mental chorus of: Does he like me? Does he like her better? Does he love me? Does he still love me? Does he love me as much as I love him? Did he or didn't he?

Followed intermittently with: Why isn't she talking to me? Does she hate me? Will she make other people hate me? Are we still friends? Is she going to tell all my secrets? Why are we fighting?

Then again, maybe that was only my particular mental chorus. Regardless, I'm fairly certain that a variation of that tune is the universal teenage condition. I don't know what gave you a heavy heart in high school, but odds are that it included "a feeling of persistent worry about something trivial."

Now that I am an adult, I have many non-trivial things to worry about and no time to waste worrying about trivial matters. Despite this, I have little to no angst. I am on an emotional even keel. My heart is light and I'm thrilled to be well-past the teenage years. Now, if I could only disengage my teenage heart from U2's playlist, I'd really like to enjoy my favorite band again.


  1. More than twice my number of songs (217, not counting the cover of "Stand By Me" with Bruce Springsteen) and I have now seen them three times as well. In '87 and twice in Miami. My second time was my wife's first.

  2. Mmmm...angst. Yes, much angst in high school. Thankfully, U2 wasn't connected to it, so I can still enjoy their great music (Zooropa doesn't count, I agree). And I'm glad that high school is over with and done.