Fuzzy memories: Achtung Baby!


Been listening to this song today in celebration of the 20th anniversary edition of U2’s epic Achtung Baby!, one of three masterpiece albums by the band (Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby!, All The You Can’t Leave Behind).

Hearing this album again fills the mind with fuzzy memories.

At the time, my musical taste was influenced by a close childhood friend, Steve Moody. He got me hooked into U2 and, though he lived in Durham at the time, drove down and we all went to see the band on March 3, 1992, in Charlotte. This was during the indoor leg of the tour. It was an overload to the senses and completely wonderful; and though I have great memories of the show, I do feel a tinge of sadness.

As I remember, Steve bought me my ticket to the show. I also ended up with a t-shirt (which I still have) and a hat (that has been lost to time) and I can’t remember if I paid for those, or if he bought them for me.

Thinking back, I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked him. Even beyond that incidence, I have general feeling that I committed a multitude of friendship sins. He was always a faithful, loyal friend. I’m not sure the same could be said about me. Even though it’s been 20 years and we rarely speak, I feel the guilt of a ruined friendship.

I remember where I was when I bought the album. When I went to the concert, I didn’t own the recording. However, at a K-mart in Albemarle, N.C., of all places, I saw it and bought it. It was $15.99, and though it was too much to pay for a CD (then and now), I just wanted to spend money and that was what I picked up.

The first concert VHS I bought was the one connected to this tour.

The CD became a staple and I remember playing it in my 1990 red Honda CRX, using an adapter to run from my Sony Discman to the car cassette player.

I used to keep the Discman on my thigh as I drove to cut down the number of skips. I was pretty adept at driving with that thing sitting on my leg. Even now, I can steer with one leg while holding something with the other.

Through it all, I remember this song — the bass, the guitar, the falsetto backing vocal. It was a hidden gem that could’ve been overshadowed on this album of bright, shiny objects. It’s one of those songs you keep hidden, close and wonder if anyone else ever felt this way for a song.

And, it turns out, 20 years later, they do: On U2’s last tour, “Ultraviolet” made its way back into the encore. Right where it belongs.

What music brings back memories for you?


4 thoughts on “Fuzzy memories: Achtung Baby!

  1. This is another really good post.

    I was a U2 fan in high school (from 1999-2002), and I had similar feelings about Rattle & Hum. While the rest of my classmates were riding the emo-wave of Jimmy Eat World, Further Seems Forever, etc. to deal with teen angst, I was sunk neck-deep in the final cut of the album, “All I Want is You”. I still have my copy of that cd that I used to listen to in my car, in my bedroom, in the break room at work. It’s funny how so often, music has meaning because of a sense of place.

    Ultraviolet may be the best tune they ever did, though.

    • Thanks for posting … as I was re-listening to “The Fly” on Achtung Baby, I remembered how it used to remind me of Rattle and Hums’s “God Part II” … which in some ways reminded me of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” which, for some reason, reminded me of “Elvis Presley and America” from The Unforgettable Fire … I used to have this whole lineage thing in my mind. I think it was the stream-of-consciousness feel of the lyric.

      Anyway, thanks for reading!

  2. For what its worth, I never thought of you as anything less than faithful and loyal. Neither of us is guilty of letting the friendship go in my book. We just kinda changed. And I’ve never dealt with distance separating me from friends or family very well. That has a lot to do with me kinda falling out of the picture.

    That was a pretty cool show, wasn’t it? My memories of it have faded quite a bit over time but I can’t forget all the lights and VWs. Good music, too! Sound could’a been better. I’m pretty sure you bought the t-shirt and hat. And I’m also pretty sure you thanked me.

    As for “Ultraviolet”- I always wished the album ended with that song. Really tied the album together, I thought. I’m not the U2 fan I used to be, but I still love the albums they put out back then as much as ever. I’m struggling with the possibility of buying the 6cd, 4dvd ultra-deluxe version of the album. I’ve already got so much of the material I just can’t justify it. But oh, how nice it would be to have the stuff I haven’t heard. Or would it? Maybe I can only love that music like I do now because I heard it then as the person I was then. Maybe I’ll find out!

    • Thanks … that does mean a lot!

      Maybe Ultraviolet is so cool because it’s the third from the end, you know. That’s not a prime spot for a great song and to have that there makes it really pop.

      Your comment warmed my heart. I know situations and time changes, which is the sucky thing about life, but that’s what it is. You still loom large, though, when I take time to think about my life.


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