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#U2getherAtHome - A celebration of The Unforgettable Fire

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Personal memories of The Unforgettable Fire

I started this tradition during our collective DVD viewings, and I thought I'd do the same for this (hopefully, to become "these", if we collectively go beyond UF). Seeing all of the younger fans tuning in for the DVD viewings made me think that some might appreciate knowing what the experience was like with the older fans when these releases were new.

First, I have to say that one of the ideas that occurred to me to do collective things on the site was to go through the albums one by one. So, imagine my joy when this has come to pass! I guess U2 having their upgraded YouTube channel helped such a possibility happen.

Anyway, with certain album releases, the story is very short - e.g., for the first three studio albums and UABRS, the story is "I went to the record/CD store and I bought it/them"; the same with the first "Best Of" up to and including SOE, except I would have to add "on-line" to the places where I bought some of them. However, for UF up to and including POP, there is more to each story. (Some of you here may already know my UF story, so apologies in advance if it sounds familiar.)

OK, I remember specifically when UF came out. It was the first of October 1984. I had just begun my freshman year in college in NC the month before). I had the first four U2 cassettes (yes, cassettes - it was 1984) already and was waiting with bated breath for this new album. The closest/most convenient record store was at Hanes Mall, a very short drive away. My roommate had a car, so I asked him if he could take me to buy the new album. "Pride" was all over the radio by that time, so there was a lot of excitement in anticipation of its release. Well, my roommate was an occasionally moody person, and he proved it that day by refusing to take me to the mall to buy the new cassette. My plan for getting UF on the first day of release was foiled...

...or was it? Of course not! "Fan" is short for "fanatic", and today was the day that I proved (yet again) that I was a U2 fan! If my roommate won't drive me to buy it, I'll just walk there myself! It's not that far away...

Well, that day (a Monday - new releases came out on Mondays back then), I only had an early morning class - I had the rest of the day free. So, since walking to the mall was very easy (one of the exits from the campus was the same road that the mall was on), I would just walk there and back in a snap! I'll just have a late lunch. Well, fair readers, this is where I learned a very painful lesson...

Things that don't seem very far away by car can indeed be quite lengthy if you have to walk them instead. When we drove to that mall, it took no time at all - less than 10 minutes. However, 5 miles away by foot is a MUCH longer endeavor. As I was walking, it occurred to me, about half-way to the mall, that deciding to walk there may have been more than I had bargained for. However, once you go so far, you just have to keep going. I kept going.

It was a blessed relief to arrive at the mall finally. I went straight to the store (a "Record Bar" store, if you remember that chain) and found the object of my peripatetic quest - a brand new cassette of The Unforgettable Fire! I bought it quickly and happily. I was a contented U2 fan. My joy upon leaving the store, however, was short-lived: my 10-mile round-trip journey at this point, of course, was merely half-completed...

I inhaled deeply and began my return expedition back to campus. I must have looked quite amusing: a young man holding a tiny paper bag while trudging along an unforgiving shoulder of a major road for 5 long miles back to campus. At least the weather was nice. I forgot to appreciate it - my legs hurt too much.

After what seemed like most of the day (because it took most of the day), I finally returned to campus. My legs were already throbbing from the intense circulation of blood needed to complete the journey. I get back to my room and remember what it is like to be fully drenched in sweat. The last time I had been that soaked was when I played a soccer game in a downpour. My roommates just stared at me. I threw my bag on my bed and spoke of my rapture of having the new U2 album: "....I need a shower before dinner."

After a good 30 minutes in as hot a shower as I could stand, I plodded back to my room. The album had to wait - I had already exchanged lunch for hours of exorbitant walking; I couldn't sacrifice dinner as well. So, after eating a ton (I remember many cheeseburgers disappearing down my gullet, among other foodstuffs), I finally got back to my room to play my new cassette.

Hmmm...this doesn't sound a whole lot like the albums I have heard and loved by them. I'm not sure I like this new sound. I finish the cassette (my roommates were listening too) - we liked isolated songs (Pride, Wire, Indian Summer Sky); the others we were unsure about. They could see my disappointment - I had walked 10 miles and was in an incredible amount of pain just to have a new album that I didn't like very much. They did what good roommates do - they teased me unmercifully for weeks afterwards. (Side note: unlike some who may have memories of when UF was new, I am candid and honest with my initial disappointment with it. The mists of time and wearing a fan's rose-colored lenses have led many to forget that UF was not universally warmly-embraced by the U2 fan community when it was new. Some liked it sooner; others learned to like it with repeated listenings - I was in the latter group.)

Well, now, of course, I like UF very, very much! It still is not among my top echelon U2 albums (it's in the second tier for me); however, without question...and I would even go as far as declaring it almost an objective fact...it is the single most important album they ever made. Without UF, "The Joshua Tree" wouldn't have ended up sounding the way it did. Without UF, the band wouldn't have had the subconscious confidence to reinvent themselves again for AB and the rest of the 90s. Without the new direction of UF, they wouldn't have lasted past the 80s.

Well, I have more memories of the era, but this is certainly enough for a first post on the album! Let us savor the world of UF today!


Edited by dmway
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no Unforgettable Fire play should be without the best B side ever... so...    

As it should be… All the thanks to Jo and Ty for this nice listening party at distance...  We all may be far away in distance, but things like this make us close as a community. Let's see what the

Guess who's back? HA ! As part of the #U244 events, I'm teaming up with the brilliant Tyler of RevU2 podcast and bringing back a new version of the U2getherAtHome party!  Off with the shows,

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4 hours ago, dmway said:

I think we'll be here as scheduled.

(Just a point of curiosity - why is this 3 hours earlier than the DVD showings? I was under the impression that the former time was the best for everyone worldwide. Has this position been reconsidered? Again, no big thing, simply a point of curiosity.)


It's indeed earlier than our "usual spot". It's a special weekend for the whole community and there's loads of stuff planned. Friday schedule was already pretty full so Tyler and I decided to go for that earlier time Sat so we wouldn't collide with the Welcome To The North Side event who has planned a couple of streamings from 8.30pm (UK). 

So yeah maybe it won't be 'ideal' for all but it was important for us to not step on any other fans toes organising their own events and of course have a great U244 party all together :)

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Looking forward to the listening party. The first time I heard the album, I had snuck into my brother’s room and borrowed the cassette that his friend had let him borrow. And like any typical teenager with a dual cassette player, you know what I did (but don’t worry, I have since bought that album multiple times to make up for it). This was pre-head over heels stage, but as a massive Duranie at time, I loved the moodiness of The Unforgettable Fire. It’s one of the best late night listening albums ever made. To this day, The Unforgettable Fire (the song) is my all time favorite song and gives me chills every time I listen to it. 

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