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Old 01-02-2002, 11:31 PM   #1
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Rock's Unbreakable Heart - My Epic Year

[A long, personal reflection on last year. But where else to share this but here?? Thanks for listening. -- Deb D]


Rock's Unbreakable Heart -- My Epic Year

This is not about being on the road with U2. This is, instead, about living with U2, in my living room, in my heart. Never has a year seemed so elastic, stretched to contain so much.

Some high points:
Good Friday, April 13th, Elevation Vancouver. U2 touched me to my core, to my soul.
U2tours.com and @U2, where I found and followed all that the tour was becoming.
WIRE, and then Feedback.

Confession -- October 31, 2000, I made a beeline for Virgin Megastore and bought...Dwight Yoakam's Tomorrow's Sounds Today. Like U2, Dwight matters a lot to me, an artist of similar longevity, integrity, and authenticity. He'd introduced me to the world of rural music, and my heart was deep in the Appalachians then. ATYCLB was on my to-buy list... until a non-U2 friend played some of it for me in his truck one night. I heard the "U2 sound" in Beautiful Day, that's fine; I heard Bono, up close and personal in Stuck In a Moment and listened with a lump in my throat. Elevation excited me, but Walk On was the clincher. I felt like Bono and the boys were sitting across the kitchen table from me, spillin' their souls, slicing like surgeons into my own. I arranged to get the album for my birthday.
On it I heard a U2 that embraced me with this beautiful groove, as they never had before -- it has JT's lush beauty, but with a ragged vulnerability, a new kind of SOUL.
But I still listened mostly to rural gospel music -- my spirit was hungry for what it offered -- with U2's urban soul fireworks thrown in every couple of days.

The concert was a last-minute thing -- unable to get tickets the day they went on sale, and furthermore deeply offended by the $130 tag, I was almost prepared to let this show go, just like I had Popmart in '97 when I was so heavily into classical music. But my life is very different now -- I'm single, I live in the heart of the city (not the married suburbs), I march to my own drummer(s) these days. Rock'n'roll has reasserted its place in my life. The night of the show, I sat in my living room and debated. PJ was just about to hit the stage, right over the bridge... 15 minutes away.
I paced. I was broke; yet, I was lonely for the lads.
But I was broke, and I despise scalpers.
Yet they were in MY town, right over the bridge... And, hey, I'd seen them twice in 18 years, so adding a third show to that kinda math made for damn fine value, actually -- Screw it, I went to a bank machine, and called a cab with a $200 budget in my pocket. Found a man with a single ticket "behind" the stage for $100, and I was inside, twenty minutes before the lights went down.
Unfuckingbelievable. I'd doubted them; they won me. It almost felt like I didn't deserve them -- and yet -- and yet. More precisely, I'd forgotten ...what they could do. As if it was just about rock'n'roll. As if it was just about "your money's worth." It was church, it was actually about my eternal soul! *L* And Bono gave, and gave, and gave, never depleted because he had an open line on the Source. It was a beautiful, revelatory evening. The Spirit had never been so brilliant and all-encompassing in my life.

That night I found U2tours.com. Two days later, I posted my own review there, and set the site as my desktop homepage. I followed every show through the fan and media reviews. U2 were on fire, and illuminating virtually everyone who heard them. My copy of ATYCLB was my personal plug-in to the energy of those concerts. Transit workers were on strike here for four months, so every day I walked 45 beautiful harbour-view minutes to my workplace with the album in my ears. I can't now cross 8th Avenue and Highbury Street without hearing Larry and Bono -- And love is not the easy thing/the only baggage...that you can bring... I'd grin and sing and glow down the street, to the bemusement of passing motorists...

Through the spring and summer, Bono spoke ever more deeply to me, as the songs were fleshed out by their live performance (and I was privy as never before through the blessings of the internet community...) Stuck in a Moment for Michael Hutchence and In A Little While for Joey Ramone grew rich with the "love of life" Bono described on the album, and then when they added Kite to the set, and he talked about his father...well. U2 by this time was the backbone of my days. I listened to some Dwight and some bluegrass, but U2 was my companion and my daily spiritual nourishment. I signed sula's "petition" of support -- and later condolence -- for the Hewson family, and wept when I read U2literary.com's account of Slane 1. The power moving through those guys was palpable... I was inspired by Bono's strength, and spent a week drafting an essay about it, with the added pleasure of seeing the piece posted on @U2. I poured my heart into those words, because Bono was pouring his heart into his. The Spirit moving through them...lit my way.

High Point: Labour Day weekend, Las Vegas, for three Dwight Yoakam shows and the thrill of finally meeting a dear online friend. It was a grand adventure, filled with passionate music and our passionate love for music. I began my three-week vacation there, with plans to finish it (after a visit with family back east) in Cincinnati, with her and another online soul sister. I could hardly wait.

Low Point: In between, the unthinkable.
All day September 11th, I spent online at my mother's farmhouse, between CNN, my Dwight fan forum, and WIRE. I didn't want to hear talking heads (and we had no television anyway); I wanted to hear ordinary Americans. I wanted to talk, and mostly, I wanted to listen. On dwightyoakam.net, I posted the words to Peace On Earth. On WIRE, I posted the lyrics to Dwight's bluegrass hymn, Traveller's Lantern (guide them back home before they wander/into the dark billows that crash on the sea...) On the 14th, I was in the city watching TV with relatives, and swear I felt the earth move in three silent minutes of remembrance, observed across my entire country at once, before watching the national memorial services in Ottawa and at the National Cathedral in Washington. I was in tears all day, it seemed... And thankfully, I made it across the border for Dwight's Sept 18th concert in Cincinnati.

There I hugged my American friends for dear life -- with whom I had already shared fevered emails fraught with sorrow and fear and love. That night, Dwight sang ...Lay down your soul at Jesus' feet/the darkest hour is just before dawn. And the band played their honkytonk hearts out, unbowed, as Dwight said, out of "a defiant respect" for those who lost their lives, and those who struggle to survive. It was cathartic -- we sobbed even as we danced, we stayed up late in our hotel like teenagers. Life should be fragrant/rooftop to the basement...
I needed U2, I needed their -- our -- communion again, so I booked (damn the financial torpedoes once more) the U2 weekend in Vegas, and looked forward to putting faces to more online names.

Low point: Three weeks after I returned home, my father had a brief visit to hospital to drain fluid off his lungs. We talked some about 9/11, but mostly I was grateful to be beside him, to feel a little normal and stable, back home in the company of my immediate family and friends. Two weeks after that, he had a stroke and lost his speech. The doctors told us, too, he had cancer. Then he deteriorated so fast, good Lord! I cancelled Vegas.

Lowest point: November 20th,
my father's death.
my father's death.
my father's death.


That night, All That You Can't Leave Behind bridged the silent black chasm where my world had been. Bono comforted me on the long, slow drive home from the hospital in the wee hours, his voice in my ear like a brother, like a confessor; he heard and understood the conversation I had with my dad there in the car -- my flickering question mark caught in the draft of a hovering spirit ... near or far, I couldn't tell. The day of his memorial, I played Beautiful Day so loud it hurt, and found the strength to deliver my father's eulogy. The service discreetly quoted Kite and Psalm 40 -- I'd watched the miry clay consume him, I prayed him lifted up out of the pit. You've got to leave it behind.

I can't believe how much I miss him. The hole in my heart only seems to grow bigger. Christmas was rather like a birthday party outside my door... and this New Year taunts me, beginning mercilessly, irrevocably, without him in it.

My day-to-day life is off its moorings, and I don't particularly care. I love my friends, I know I'm alive in the eyes of everyone I encounter. Work, "prospects," plans, none are relevant. The only dialogue I can meaningfully engage right now -- is music. Is U2.

High Points in a chasm: my growing collection of U2 video: Achtung Baby, Popmarts Mexico and Sao Paolo, ZooTV Sydney -- the old standbys, R&H and Best Of -- plus audio boots of Elevation Vancouver and JT Chicago, and of course, the Boston DVD. Through the last month, in these are where I live. These are the ground beneath my feet.
ATYCLB speaks to me now like a Bible. Grace immediately following New York on the album has become a balm on a fiery wound. Walk On now echoes in my mind with Bono's joyous, "We're goin' Home! Hallelujah!" -- with a brave, sublime joy -- ah, God bless 'im! -- that stands apart from the otherwise reverent and humble musical prayers offered up by the others on the Tribute to Heroes. Elevation remains an ecstatic celebration of my Divine Companion -- and resonates all the more with the explosive power of Spirit that fuelled its namesake show. Kite soars with the strength I need to remember the love that is imperishable; I am unspeakably grateful to Bono for sharing his own grief so fearlessly. I may remain sane because of him.
In A Little While simply breaks my heart. Watching him sing it on the DVD completely undid me. Its gentleness is not yet a comfort, it is an assault -- it is my unwinnable battle with the Angel at my father's bedside, a lullabye to my small defeat and their great victory...the two of them, leaving us behind: In a little while, this hurt will hurt no more, I'll be Home, love... Slow down my beatin' heart...
Every phrase twists the knife.

But this is U2's gift to me this year: that they also break, that they weep -- Bono is a battle-weary man with a battered heart; just look at him on that telethon. Yet in his faith, he trembles before us, he cracks and bleeds -- and reveals the glorious Wholeness within. The power of pain, the messy nobility of grief, and the dumbstruck gratitude for love, for respite, for peace. I've watched him gnash and wail and NOT fall. He gives me faith in my own pain. He rightly resists the label "role model" -- fine, I don't want someone who shows me what infallible looks like. I do want someone to show me how to be weak, and not self-destruct! How to be weak, and find strength in it. How to howl out this sickness in my soul.
With the end of 2001, I am weak. I am depleted. The life I took for granted is drained of colour; the life I might yet build is hidden in shadow. Yet the Light -- the way, the truth -- finds its way to me, if only in music. In song.
She got soul soul soul, sweet soul
and She teach me how to sing.


Amen.
_________________________________________________________________
move me, Spirit, take me * move me, Spirit, heal me * move me, Spirit, teach me
(She moves in mysterious ways)
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Old 01-03-2002, 12:59 AM   #2
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This was a beautiful post Deb. Your posts and essays, though I've never told you hefore, have been for me an in Spiring presence. I am so sorry you have suffered such loss this year. I offer up my prayers that God wraps his arms tightly around you and your family and never lets you go.

Megan
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Old 01-03-2002, 01:30 AM   #3
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wow, that was really beautiful in a bittersweet way, thanks so much for sharing. I have tears in my eyes and I don't cry easily. So sorry to hear your father's passing.

I find the same sustenance in U2 songs, the same Spirit. And I see you got taken just as I did at my first U2 concert during the Unforgettable Fire Tour in Philly. Following them on the internet, and interacting with fans, has been an experience I am grateful for. What a wonderful journey we are all on together!

God bless!
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Old 01-03-2002, 05:05 AM   #4
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First thing I read this morning Deb, youre heartfelt essay above. Im sorry for your father, Im really sorry. Life goes on. You have found comfort and support in U2 music the same way I have found to my endless problems as well. Nothing compares to the lost of a beloved one, I know, but we tend to think and feel that our problems are always the worse when theyre not.
I wanna say thank you once more, its such a beautiful day out there and you made it even more beautiful somehow. Im going to work on foot listening to Walk On non-stop on my earphones, like every day this summer.
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Old 01-03-2002, 01:41 PM   #5
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That was an incredible heart-felt post Deb. I am sorry for your loss. I wish you all the best in 2002. Walk On Girl!

ps- glad that you enjoyed "Rock's Hottest Ticket" Chicago '87. Thanks for Vancouver Part 2. It was worth the wait!
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Old 01-03-2002, 01:52 PM   #6
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I just wanted to say...wow. That was an amazing and inspiring piece of writing. It honestly brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal with us. This just reminds me once more why U2 means what it does to me.

-sula
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Old 01-03-2002, 02:04 PM   #7
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Thank you so much for sharing that. I really don't even know what to write, I'm so touched. I'm so sorry about your loss. The only thing I could really think to share is the following, from an interview with Bono this past December. It just shows how tightly they hold their fans to them, the way you demonstrated how we hold them, as well:


The day Hewson died, U2 were due to headline Earl's Court in London. The show went ahead. "And it really helped me," says Bono. "It might have put the audience off their tea, but it really helped me. That recent tour in the UK is something I will never forget, because every night I would go expensively home to Dublin to sleep beside my father, on the floor of his hospital room -- the crowd was still ringing in my ears as I sat down to his silence."

"the crowd", not the music. we get to carry each other.
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Old 01-03-2002, 04:55 PM   #8
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olive --
wow, thanks for sharing that quote. It really helps ME (and round and round we all go. ) Thanks, you guys.

Deb
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Old 01-03-2002, 11:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by truecoloursfly:
But this is U2's gift to me this year: that they also break, that they weep -- Bono is a battle-weary man with a battered heart; just look at him on that telethon. Yet in his faith, he trembles before us, he cracks and bleeds -- and reveals the glorious Wholeness within. The power of pain, the messy nobility of grief, and the dumbstruck gratitude for love, for respite, for peace. I've watched him gnash and wail and NOT fall. He gives me faith in my own pain. He rightly resists the label "role model" -- fine, I don't want someone who shows me what infallible looks like. I do want someone to show me how to be weak, and not self-destruct! How to be weak, and find strength in it. How to howl out this sickness in my soul.
With the end of 2001, I am weak. I am depleted. The life I took for granted is drained of colour; the life I might yet build is hidden in shadow. Yet the Light -- the way, the truth -- finds its way to me, if only in music. In song.
She got soul soul soul, sweet soul
and She teach me how to sing.


Amen.
I don't know what to say...so many things are welling up in my heart. It is so good to find someone who can express the feelings I also hold for U2...you expressed them so beautifully. The pain, the heartache, but also the triumph and the love. And AMEN sums it all up...a simple prayer. Thank you so much. God be with you. Peace.

hippy


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"A Bono approved event is a good event!"

You can dream, so dream out loud!

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Create Light, Create Unity, Create Joy, CREATE PEACE!
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Old 01-04-2002, 12:02 PM   #10
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Deb-
email me diamondbruno9@aol.com
Thanks-
Diamond

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"...The big guy is made of STEEL." - Bono as we stood together on stage at Boston #4, June 9th, 2001.

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links for
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Old 01-06-2002, 06:09 PM   #11
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Deb...thank you for opening up your soul, and expressing your heart like you did...your words were bittersweet, but very inspiring and heartfelt. Thanks again for your words that have encouraged those who have read them to be able to walk on in the face of tragedies like you have this last year with God's help, and with the music of U2 as well.

Chris
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Old 01-07-2002, 01:19 AM   #12
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Deb, I wanted to ask you if it's alright if I quote you? I love your words and want to use them in my AIM profile...okay?

hippy

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"A Bono approved event is a good event!"

You can dream, so dream out loud!

"The way to be optimistic is not to shut your eyes and close your ears." -Bono

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Old 01-07-2002, 04:43 PM   #13
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hippy --
um... yes! Wow, thanks... Just curious: which ones? and thanks for asking.

Deb
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