Friday, December 03, 2010

The Passing of My Youth

Well, it had to happen at some point. I actually held a wake to mourn its passing way back when I turned 25. Oh, how we think back then!

Musically, my youth was dominated by U2. Yes, yes, I hear you murmur, so was the youth of many others – perhaps you, too, my dear reader (if you’ll excuse my lovely alliteration). But tonight, U2 are playing in Melbourne. I’m in Melbourne. But I’m not at the U2 concert. It wasn’t through a lack of dosh (though I am in debt and – another sign of my passing youth – do care about that fact). No, it was through me wondering if it would be ‘worth it,’ to stand for hours, breathing in other people’s smoke and being crushed in the queue, to hear a couple of ageing rock stars belt out songs they’ve belted out dozens – sometimes hundreds – of times before, in the same order, cracking the same jokes, and so on.

There was a time such cynical words of old people would have been brushed off by the likes of myself, but now I see myself typing them.

But perhaps I’m not making myself clear. There was a time I would pore over the words of U2, wondering at hidden meanings, weep at the mysteries contained therein, sing at the top of my voice, explore thoughts and philosophies rooted in and watered by the lyrics of “Running to Stand Still” and the like. Now I can’t even remember the names of these songs (I just had to get up and look at the back of the CD...) Indeed, perhaps because it was a CD I was looking at and not an iPod is another sign. Signs everywhere!

A couple of years ago – the last time U2 was in Australia – I went, of course. My brother in law did not, saying he had made the ‘executive decision’ not to go. I mourned the passing of his youth at the time – for he had once been as big a U2 fan as I. (I competed with him, though him not with me – a sign of his age! – I had every single released during the Achtung Baby! period – even the rare ones. That was impressive. He had the very rare blue edition of the “Pride (In the Name of Love)” single. That was impressive. He was about the age I am now when he made his executive decision. A few years later, he died suddenly, through natural (and unexplained) causes. I’ve been thinking of his death in recent days, as U2 have been rocking Etihad Stadium without me.

Tonight, in a throwback to my youth, I am at home, drinking alone, and writing. I did it a lot, back in 2004 and ’05, when I was angst-riven, largely lonely (though surrounded by friends – is that what angst-riven means?) and full of words (and with time enough to spill them onto a blog). Times and circumstances have changed muchly, though. I am engaged. I am about to embark on a new job, a new city, new challenges. I am far from angsty. In fact, I am the happiest I've been. These days, most spare words I find are devoted to my PhD, not needless blogs. But, be that as it may, I don’t care (at least not tonight). I’m listening to the five successive U2 albums that I believe constitute their greatest period – The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby! and Zooropa.

I’m at home alone, as my beloved is at choir, and I’m drinking to mark, at the same time, the end of my youth and the end of an arduous Friday.

I finish with the words of the Master (words that would have impacted me greatly in my youth):

So the hands that pull
Also pull down
Even the hands of love