Yesterday I was driving through Chicago on a snowy day. My teenager was exhausted from a day of singing and acting and dancing, so she was asleep in the front seat of the car. I rarely get to pick out the music when she’s in the car so I popped in a U2 CD, and forwarded through to track 5, “Running to Stand Still.” It was one of those random things that life provides, but it turned out to be a fortuitous choice, just the same.
The song’s slow, mournful air seemed to complement the falling snow, and I started to sing along. I was half expecting my teenager to come to life and demand that I stop, but since it didn’t happen like that, Bono and I had an interesting duet. The next two or three songs after that were pretty good, too, but “Running to Stand Still” stayed with me, as good art does sometimes.
This morning I was on my computer, and I wanted to learn more about the song. The wikipedia entry was very informative, and I learned about the song’s origins in a rough area of Dublin called Ballymun. The song was written about the effects of heroin addiction, but it has since taken on larger meanings of any seemingly hopeless situation. Like other forms of art, the song means different things to different people, depending on what you bring to it.
But the kicker, and what inspired me to write this, is an extra bit of information I gleaned about the song. The only time I’ve seen U2 perform live was at the Rosemont Horizon back in the Spring of 1987, shortly after The Joshua Tree was released. Time magazine had pronounced U2 as “Rock’s Hottest Ticket” and that is the name of a bootleg recording of the show, which has apparently gained legendary status among U2 fans for the quality of the recording.
All these years later, I’m now able to revisit the show and imagine how different life is today from what it was back then. The music still sounds great, by the way.
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
ah la la de day,
UPDATE: The song was reworked by Bono and some friends to an amazing effect. Click on the link below to check it out.