'Mystical Auras'

26 Jun 201243

'Mystical Auras'

'The first U2 song I heard was 'I Will Follow when it was played on a Philadelphia radio station in 1981.' recalls Matt McGee of atU2.com, who's been writing about the band online since 1995 when he founded 'Matt's (mostly U2) Music Page'. ' I liked the song more with each hearing, and considered myself a fan, but I have to confess that I was still more into The Police at the time. (And a few of the more dodgy artists of the early '80s that will remain unmentioned here.)
'U2 didn't really catch me hook, line and sinker until a couple years later, so that's where my U2 playlist has to begin ... before it wanders off in no particular order to the finish.'



Let us know what you think of Matt's U2 Playlist in the comments below - what's he got right, what's he inexplicably forgotten to include.

I'm a sucker for a piano, and even more so when a rock band is using it. The fact that Edge was playing both the piano and guitar simultaneously -- and effortlessly -- was jaw-dropping. Throw in Adam's fantastic bass line and Larry's terrific drum work ... just wow. Watch the Zoo TV Sydney version of this if you need a reminder of what a great song it is.

My first U2 concert experience was from the fourth row of a show on The Unforgettable Fire tour, and "Bad" quickly became Exhibit A when talking about U2 songs that were good on record, but became an entirely better beast in concert.

It's interesting how this song has taken on an almost mystical aura among U2 fans in recent years. I credit that to the fact that U2 has seriously underplayed this song in concert over the past couple tours. Here's hoping that changes next time around. Right, gang?

Speaking of mystical auras! Another song that fans around the globe would almost die to hear in concert just once. And the lucky fans in New Zealand get it every time, don't they? (Jealous!)

I love the way this song simmers out of the gate and gallops along. But for me, it's really all about Bono's guttural wailing at the end -- the Spirit coming out, the rain coming down. And all the emotion with it.

Maybe one of the most perfect pieces of music that U2 has ever created. Seriously, fire up your copy of Boy and fast-forward to about the 4:00 mark of this combo.

The song is really starting to take off at this point and you think they're about to go into full-flight mode. Then ... what? They pull back. Restraint. Discipline. Starting at about the 4:40 mark and lasting for almost two full minutes, there's a stunning, quiet interlude. The song crawls along at its own pace.

I'm blown away by the patience. Boy is such a frenetic album and most songs feel like a race to the finish. 'An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart' just defies logic. You have to pinch yourself and remember: U2 were 19 and 20 years old when they pulled this off. Are you kidding me?

It's just one of the most perfect 4-5 songs ever written. By anyone. And that's about all that needs to be said.

There are a handful of U2 songs that can bring me to tears in any circumstance, and this is one of them. I think Bono has said that it's written with his daughter(s) in mind, or maybe it was Edge's daughter(s), but I think of it more generally as a tribute to the amazing and mysterious creation that is the female.

Some fans have said that the lyrics in this one don't make sense but, as a guy who's spent 40+ years trying to understand females ... well, maybe the lyrics don't need to make sense. (Am I right, guys?)

By the way, the Live In Milan version of this song with the string section playing from the Vertigo tour's b-stage is where it's at for me. A real keeper.

This song was the centerpiece of the best U2 concert I've seen: April 20, 2001, in San Jose. That's the first time U2 ever played this one live, and you could just FEEL it coming as soon as you walked inside the arena.

When it finally happened, it was like the roof disappeared and the skies opened up. There was magic in the arena that night thanks to this song. For at least a while, Bono called it the best show of his life and Willie Williams called it 'transcendental'. They can thank Kite', one of U2's really underrated gems.


Can I go off the beaten track a bit here? This is a Bono solo effort (actually, Larry plays drums and tambourine, too) from a 1997 tribute CD called "The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers."

I have to include it because I think it's one of Bono's finest vocals ever. There's a real melancholy in his delivery. Suggest listening to this one with a great pair of headphones. It's a gentle song, but one that doesn't leave you easily afterward.

It's hard to imagine anything stealing the show from 'Streets', but this was THE showstopper of the PopMart tour. A more personal version of 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', I think, with Bono pleading -- in concert, praying -- for The Troubles to stop. It's one of his best lyrical and vocal performances, and Adam's bass line really stands out for me, too.

I know peace has prevailed, but I'd love to see and hear this one again live down the road. If "Sunday Bloody Sunday" can be reworked to fit current events from tour to tour, maybe "Please" can, too.

This is one of U2's overplayed Big Hits that I grew tired of ... for about 20 years. But as often happens with life and U2 songs, things change. More than any other, this song helped get me through some difficult moments in the last couple years and now it's a must for my playlist. Don't ever count out a U2 song.

75,000 people screaming in unison: 'Oh! You! Look! So! Beauuuuutiful! Toniiiiiiight.......'

Really, how can you beat that? It's far and away the best live song that U2 wrote in the 2000s with lyrics that hit me right at home in so many different ways.

But what I really love is how Edge makes his guitar sing as Bono asks the crowd, 'Can you see the beauty inside of me?' Listen at the 2:32 mark of the Live at the Rose Bowl version and you'll know what I mean. Chills.


I'm not sure why I'm putting this track here, right in the middle of several big concert hits. But, then again, "Cedars Of Lebanon" would stand out no matter where I put it, right?

This song sounds so un-U2 to me. Maybe it's Bono's mostly-spoken delivery? Maybe it's the third-person storytelling? I don't know. It's certainly not the only quiet and moody song U2 has written. Heck, most of their album closers fit that description.

But this is the song that I return to time and again from No Line On The Horizon.

I'd forgotten how much I loved this until the 360 tour rolled around. Since then, there've been nights when I've played it on repeat, non-stop for 45 minutes while walking on a treadmill at the local gym. There are also nights when I'll turn off the lights, put on my headphones and watch the Live at the Rose Bowl version about 6-7 times in a row in silence and awe. Light my way, indeed.

Sorry to end on a cliché, but I can't tell you how much this song means to me. I'll just say this: In between tours, this is the song I most want to see and hear again. And when I think about the fact that someday U2 is going to call it quits, nothing scares me like the thought of never experiencing 'Streets' live again. Nothing.

Just missed the cut: Stateless, Out Of Control, Beautiful Day, Yahweh and Unknown Caller.

 Jacknife Lee's Playlist.
 Danny Lanois's Playlist.
 John Noble's Playlist.
 Caroline van Oosten de Boer's Playlist.


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Interesting to hear other's bests
I always find these lists interesting. I love the inclusion of "Kite", a highly under-appreciated song. I feel like "Please" doesn't get its due either. On the other hand, I can't stand "Original of the Species". It's one of the songs that will actually make me stop listening to that album, and one of the prime examples of why HTDAAB is easily my least favorite U2 album ever. "City of Blinding Lights" sounds like a song any 3rd rate 90's band could've written too, so I'm surprised to see that here, and hated seeing it in the current tour as a prominent song.
AN CAT DUBH/INTO THE HEART - BOY... Wow Wow ...top list
Streets, never a clichè, always into the
Same for me, when we'll know that it's over, my first thought will sadly go to that glorious intro.
Thank you for Kite
Matt, Great list. I'm fairly certain you'll never see this post. But, in the unlikely event that you do, I simply want to congratulate you on one pick. Kite. The rest of the list is solid. But Kite is the song that no one seems to appreciate enough. My favorite version is of course from the Slane Castle show in 2001. Everyone thinks about the moment 4:40 into the song when Bono's voice cracks and he's clearly emotional and remembering his father. But for me, it's that moment 3:15 into the song where Edge launches the brief but soaring guitar solo. It elevates the song to an ethereal place and is, I think, my favorite 20 seconds of any U2 song. Tanks for including this sng on your list!
Very good fan
I am fan a u2 14 ans this song favorite is new yeaŕs day
Very nice
I am new to this forum and it is strange to me,being 43 I find it hard to believe I still feel this way about U2's music. Matt,I have a collection of different versions of Streets but the one that goes from all I want is you into streets is the best! To me it feels spiritual and with every smash of the symbols a lost loved ones face would flash in my mind,very moving.
Tracy M
Couldn't agree more with Matt on Streets. I have 25 different versions of Streets on my iPod, obviously most of them live. When I die, no one will be surprised to hear it at my funeral, because they've heard my play it so much in life!
Nice to see Kite included on this list. I think it's one of U2 's most underrated songs. Totally agree with Bad and Streets comments. Only change I'd make is Magnificent for Cedar. Well done.
no songs from Pop/Zooropa on my list
my faves are: i will follow, pride, gloria, new year's day, acrobat, ultraviolet, zoo station, until the end, streets, one tree hill, crumbs from your table, original of the species, magnificent, i'll go crazy, walk on, when i look @ the world. Agree that city of ...lights was made to be sung live
Nice Job
I have to say, after reading your list and your reasons why, that totally makes sense! I couldn't agree with you more on that last one...about streets. It really does scare me too. That song is so powerful live..they all are...which is my main point. U2 is such an awesome band because they are BETTER live than on CD. I know of no other band who can say that. Great job....great piece...
Matt, I was SO happy to see you included a song from POP on your list! PLEASE is one of my all time faves. So is GONE. Ultraviolet gives me goosebumps! I could sing that song at the top of my lungs everyday on my way to work, although it makes me a bit morose on some days. Nothing can take me on a trip through a range of emotions like certain U2 songs. Love what John Noble said about U2's music being the soundtrack of his life. I feel like that too. Thanks again for the great playlist.
New Years Day
Great choices here mate, it was NYD for me that pricked my ears up for U2 and rest as they say is history, like you say a piano in a rock tune, so beautiful.
Dreaming with tears in my eyes - Bono
Thanks Matt for the reference to this beautiful song. I didn't know of its existence. A real gem. :-) Declan
That's my list too! hahaha! Great! My favourite U2'song is BAD. :-)
Ultraviolet - One Tree Hill in Chicago
For me, Ultraviolet during the show in Chicago 9/12/09 was "the" song of the show. They replaced it later in the tour with "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss me Kill Me" and I really missed Ultraviolet. Regarding the U2360 Rosebowl DVD, I replay Ultraviolet over and over. What a performance. Saw the band again in Chicago in 2011. They absolutely made up for leaving Ultraviolet out of the set list and did an impromptu performance of One Tree Hill. The Edge had a difficult time remembering how to start the song, but once he did....Wooooooooooooooo! Hell yeah!
Great Choices
I totally agree with this list and with what most of the others are saying. Glad you included "Kite". Unfortunately I backed away from "U2-fanhood" for a few years and missed that tour, I smartened up in time for "Vertigo". Although I had a copy of ATYCLB, I never really heard "Kite" until one afternoon when my mother was critically ill in the hospital. It forced me to admit the truth about what was going on. The song helped me get through that time rather than serve as a negative, and I cherish it. To see it live would surely send me to my knees. And I would totally add "Yahweh" to my list...
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the kind words. Wasn't really sure how this would go over, so you've all got me smiling. :-) -- Matt
Oh, and as to Streets...
absolutely agree. That song hit me right in the heart when I heard it and never let go.
Matt McGee on the front page of U2.com?! So cool! Some great calls there, Matt. No OOTS for me...but I'm female so maybe I just don't get it. Kite - I was at that show too. Magical. I would add: Last Night on Earth; Until the End of the World (got me thinking about theology of all things and rocked my world in more than one way); Out of Control (London Elevation #2 - OMG); and In God's Country. Oh, and El-e-va-tion! The SBS video was what caused me to fall in love w/U2 - though The Police and Duran Duran still had my attention, I was instantly hooked. ross1441 - Matt has all the cool stuff.
Original Indeed
Gotta agree with Matt..... I love Original of tthe Speices as well.....Everything he said I concur, I dedicated this to both my nieces for their 16 th birtdays too. Such an honest, beautiful look at women and why us guys love them and in each their own beauty. First time I heard it, I had tears in my eyes, that's the beauty of U2, they can reduce even manly guys to mush.....LOL
Let US in the Sound
Playlist is one of my favourite regular U2.com feature and as always I enjoyed reading this new insight by (M)attU2 ;0) However I really would love to see and read contributions to this section by regular U2.com members as well as the current type of contributors. Please can you fix this request U2.com?? Thanks
Congrats Matt!
New years day is no. 1 on my list too - it is the song that started it all for me!
"An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart.Maybe one of the most perfect pieces of music that U2 has ever created. Seriously, fire up your copy of Boy and fast-forward to about the 4:00 mark of this combo. The song is really starting to take off at this point and you think they're about to go into full-flight mode. Then ... what? They pull back. Restraint. Discipline. Starting at about the 4:40 mark and lasting for almost two full minutes, there's a stunning, quiet interlude. The song crawls along at its own pace. I'm blown away by the patience. Boy is such a frenetic album and most songs feel like a race to the finish. 'An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart' just defies logic. You have to pinch yourself and remember: U2 were 19 and 20 years old when they pulled this off. Are you kidding me?" Matt, you've just gained a new best friend ;-)
quote: "'An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart' just defies logic. You have to pinch yourself and remember: U2 were 19 and 20 years old when they pulled this off. Are you kidding me?" I find myself saying this to people all the time! It's nice to see it in print. The restraint and texture are really remarkable, and for a young band to even dare to do this (let alone pull it off) is the best foreshadowing of U2's destiny.
Reggie Thee Dog
I was at the same San Jose show as Matt was at in 2001, and he's right, it was an 'other-worldly' experience, and "Kite" was the song that took the show into outerspace! Great list Matt, you are truly a fan who holds the torch aloft for U2!
Matt nailed it!
I rediscovered Ultraviolet the same way, as the 360 tour rolled on. I never realized how amazing this song is, and now, I listen to it all the time. The U22 version is the one I'm listening to now...Just perfect. Please and Kite are songs that most casual music fans or even casual U2 fans haven't had the honor of hearing...such masterpieces. Cedars, and in fact most of No Line On the Horizon, was so un-U2, but after listening to this song and the whole album several times, it became so U2. It's amazing, 30 years later, how they keep doing this. Great list Matt!
It's Willie calling.
So, Matt gets invited to a pre-production meeting to discuss setlist for 2013 tour. (Don't expect, suggest). P.S. Mofo
love the playlist
I Will Follow grabbed me in 1981 in Philadelphia, too! I can't remember if it was WMMR or the other one- thank you, long-forgetten DJ!
Lots to agree with!
Well, some jewels and others which have been lost in track. I totally agree with City and Original of Species-- it sounds too perfect to be true in Milan's concert. On the other hand, a real treasure with Bad, Ultraviolet, ACD/ITH; me myself have been rediscovering them as well. Finally, Please is given its place as magical and mystical. Of course, who could disagree with Where the... not only in concerts, I mean it is but one of U2's icon. So all the good vibes, faith and health from here, so that there's more U2 for lots of time...
Where did you get that? I need one.
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