How to dream it all up again–a lesson from U2

Rolling Stone informed me today my favorite album is 25 years old today.

Crap.  I’m officially old.

Achtung Baby is my favorite album of all time.  

I know that because of the airtime it gets in the car CD player.  I know it because any fantasy of being a rock star involves playing on a ZOO TV stage and strumming the chords from Zoo Station and Even Better Than The Real Thing. I know it’s my favorite because I keep coming back to it.

Now Achtung Baby is “Old U2”.  A phrase heard a lot over the years from U2 followers.  But in 1991 is was new.

Man was it new.

Three years before in 1988 they released Rattle and Hum.

 
In 1987 they released The Joshua Tree.  The album that shot them to super stardom.

And from The Joshua Tree they were on top of the of the rock world.  They graced Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, everything.  They were all over the radio.

(For those youngsters on here, the radio was where someone played music, but you couldn’t fast forward, replay, or skip.  And sometimes the jerk disc jockeys would talk over your song.  Seriously, this happened.  But I digress.)

They were on high rotation on MTV.

(See back then children, Music television played music videos.  Short movies with songs, much like you see on youtube, except only famous people got to be on MTV.  I KNOW!  HOW DID WE LIVE!?)

But instead of putting out another Joshua Tree, or an evolution on it.  Bono ended the Rattle and Hum tour by saying

 “It’s no big deal, it’s just — we have to go away and…and dream it all up again.”

Then out came Achtung Baby.  The album.

Bono himself said Achtung Baby was:

 “The sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree.”

So how do they follow-up their famous tour and album?

They chopped it down.

They threw it out.

And they did something completely different.

So different, they lost some fans over it.

So different though that it turned out to be amazing.

There are infinite reviews, from people much smarter than me.  So I won’t focus on the music.  I want to point out what I learned from the album.

AND this is the real reason why it is my favorite album of all time.

Sometimes you need to change.  Sometimes you need to do something completely different.

Personally I have been paid as a videographer, a youth minister, a YMCA counselor, a photographer, a third grade teacher, a first grade teacher, a fifth grade teacher, and now I write children’s books on top of that.

Life has forced me to reinvent.  And every time I am forced to reinvent, I come back to this album, and realize reinvention is a good thing.

And sometimes it’s even better than the real thing.

Achtung Y’all!

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