There was no record store or any place I could buy new CDs in the small northern Maine town where I grew up. My dad worked in the next town over, though, and they had a Kmart… nay, a Big Kmart. So, on the night of November 21st, 2004, I gave my dad some money, so he could get me a copy of U2’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb on its release date the next day.
I was twelve years old then, so how I had money is beyond me — I probably swiped it from the kitchen counter one day and just gave dad his own cash back. Sorry, dad. The point is that How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was my first new album as a hardcore U2 fan, and when my dad brought that red and black jewel case home that late afternoon, I eagerly popped the CD into my Walkman, put on headphones, laid on my bed, and had a personally meaningful listening session. When I came back downstairs 50 minutes later, my family asked how it was with what seemed like genuine interest, because they knew how profoundly important this experience was to me.
When I say “hardcore fan,” I mean it: From the moment my uncle lent me his copy of the concert DVD U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Ireland in 2003, I was obsessed. The transition between “All I Want Is You” and “Where The Streets Have No Name” from that performance is maybe my favorite live moment ever, even still. U2 was almost literally the only band I listened to for the next two to three years, save for the occasional Coldplay and Keane song. Again, I was completely infatuated.
I signed up for and frequented every U2 fan forum I could find — Shout out to U2start.com as the first entity to tell me “happy birthday” every year in their annual email that always comes a day early. My favorite podcast is U Talkin’ U2 To Me?, and not just because of Adam Scott Aukerman’s banter. One time in college, I stayed up until three in the morning with a lady I was into, sitting on my apartment floor and verbally taking her through U2’s entire band history from memory, from 1976 to then, by candlelight. Romantic, yes, but I think we both just wanted to see if I could/would actually do it. Just a few days ago, I made a “Miracle Drug” pun in the Uproxx Music Slack channel, and it earned the crying Jordan emoji reaction it got.
There’s far too much of this sort of anecdotal evidence in my (not sad, I promise) life. I’m sure that deep down, the seed of my music journalism career was my pubescent desire to wax poetic about Adam Clayton’s underrated bass work on Zooropa.