Irving Plaza concert, Dec.
5, 2000: U2 Connections
by Angela Pancella
love paying tribute to others at their concerts, particularly in the form
of Bono singing a verse of some other group's song as an addendum to his
own. Their free gig at Irving Plaza in New York (recorded for radio broadcast
December 5, 2000) is notable for this, with by my count fifteen separate
tributes to performers or authors in a fourteen song set. With that many
quotes, this concert should have come with a "Works Cited" page
-- since it didn't, I'm making one here. The "Quotes" list is
of lines of songs or poems used in the songs with some information about
the artist and their connection to U2. The "Namedrops" list
is the same information about people Bono mentioned in the course of his
"And I'm a creep" and the "chucka chucka" guitar
noise following it in "Elevation": From the Radiohead song "Creep,"
the experimental British band's first hit.
A direct line of influence from U2 to Radiohead would be hard to trace,
as Thom Yorke and Co. are drawing from a wide variety of resources (though
a Village Voice writer, reviewing Radiohead's Kid A, thought he spotted
a nod to U2 in that album's first track, where Yorke sings "Yesterday
I woke up sucking a lemon.") But the influence is travelling in
the other direction -- in a recent poll, Bono cited Radiohead as an
inspiration, and Edge has been raving about Kid A.
"I-I-I-I-I'm not your stepping stone" at the end of "Elevation":
From "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" by The Monkees.
U2 seems to be fascinated by the "boy band" manufactured
for a TV show in the 60s as an answer to the Beatles, perhaps because
both bands feature guitarists who never take off their hats. According
to Bill Flanagan and "U2 at the End of the World," U2 considered
adopting the names of The Monkees for their ZooTV tour aliases -- which
wouldn't have worked because The Monkees' names are too recognizable
(Edge: "We'd still have fans ringing the rooms, but it'll be somebody
else's fans!"). Edge sang their "Daydream Believer" as
one of his karaoke picks during Popmart, and bowed we-are-not-worthy
style when Davy Jones, the song's original singer, joined him one night
The song that begins "I remember lying awake at night/and thinking
just of you": "I Remember You" by the Ramones.
In Rolling Stone Bono says U2 played this minimalist punk piece at
their first rehearsal in 1978. In an interview broadcast before the
concert, he also mentions that U2 played a Ramones song for a TV producer
and landed a gig on television by claiming the song as their own. Joey
Ramone did not attend the Irving Plaza concert -- he said in an interview
later that he didn't want to go through the hassle of securing a ticket.
He did, however, come to see U2 perform on Saturday Night Live at the
end of the week, prompting Bono to add the line "Joey Ramone in
the house tonight" to "Beautiful Day."
"Come away child" in "New York": Possibly based on
the W.B. Yeats poem "The Stolen Child" with the lines "Come
away, human child, to the water and the wild/With a fairy hand in hand/For
the world's more full of weeping/Than you can understand."
Bono must feel a certain affinity to this Irish poet who used supernatural,
magical, and legendary Irish imagery in his work. He has recited Yeats'
"The Mother of God" for a benefit album, and, as Flanagan
points out, adopted the rhythm of "Come Gather Round Me, Parnellites"
("For Parnell was a proud man/No prouder trod the ground")
for "You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart" ("You were
a hard man/No harder in this world").
The way Bono sings the word "New York" in the chorus of the
song, and the "Ra-ba-ba-da-ba" at the end: From Frank Sinatra's
"New York, New York".
Many fans have heard an echo of "Rejoice" in the descending
two-note wail of "New York," but given the song's subject
matter, I think it likely it was nabbed direct from the Chairman of
the Board, especially as Bono has since talked about a Sinatra-specific
verse that didn't make it to the song. (The verse told the story of
Sinatra regarding a handkerchief and musing, "I remember when my
eyes were that blue.") The U2-Sinatra connections are myriad --
most notably, Bono dueted with Sinatra on "I've Got You Under My
Skin," wrote "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad" for
him (which the crooner never recorded) and gave the speech inducting
Sinatra into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
"When I get that feeling/I want sexual healing" in "Mysterious
Ways": From Marvin Gaye's song "Sexual Healing."
Soul man Marvin Gaye, one of Motown's top talents, got his start in
a vocal group in the '50s and released "Sexual Healing" in
1982, two years before he was shot to death by his father. In past concerts
Bono has used bits of "Sexual Healing" in "All I Want
Is You." Marvin Gaye is in the list Bono once gave in a Rolling
Stone interview with Anthony DeCurtis of artists who impress him with
their interest in both spiritual and secular concerns (along with Patti
Smith, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder).
(By the way, if you think Achtung Baby is an incredible document of
relationships straining and falling apart, look for Gaye's Here, My
Dear, a two-album set detailing the breakup of a marriage in excruciating
detail. His ex-wife had won the rights to Gaye's next album in their
divorce settlement, and this is what he released!)
"Goodbye Ruby Tuesday/who could hang a name on you?" in "Bad":
From "Ruby Tuesday" by the Rolling Stones.
This hearkens back to their performance at Live Aid, but what particular
connection this Stones song has to "Bad" is a mystery to me.
Presumably U2 just like the song, and discovered its melody works here
-- not an uncommon discovery, as a variety of songs have wormed their
way into "Bad" over the years, including the Stones' "Sympathy
for the Devil" and "Fool to Cry," Lou Reed's "Walk
on the Wild Side" and "Satellite of Love," and U2's "All
I Want Is You" and "The First Time."
The last song of the evening: The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
"One of the great riffs" is how Edge describes the opening
of this song in the Rolling Stone article dealing with this concert.
The Who is also frequently cited by U2 as a model for what a rock group
should be -- a partnership of equals instead of a lead singer and his
(No comments in print from the U2 camp on why they chose to cover this
very political song so soon after the US elections.)
"[This is] a song about friendship -- it's for our good friend Michael
This was the first time "Stuck in a Moment" was publicly
identified with the late singer of INXS, as Rolling Stone reported.
Bono is often uncomfortable with being specific about a song's meaning,
but an added wrinkle here was Paula Yates' belief her husband's death
was not a suicide. (She has since died of a suspected drug overdose.)
Many fans of INXS are fans of U2 and vice versa -- the bands, particularly
the lead singers, had certain similarities in sound. When Bono dedicated
"One" to Hutchence during a PopMart stop in Sydney, it was
a gesture Australian fans still bring up (especially since the lights
all got turned off and lightning flashed through the sky).
"The poetry and the punk rock of NYC...The music that was coming
out of a club just round the corner here...CBGB's...the music of Patti
Smith and Television..."
Poet and rocker Patti Smith released her album Horses in 1975 and is
thus considered either a godmother of punk or part of punk's first generation.
(Michael Stipe of REM frequently cites Smith as a main influence; U2
paid their tribute to her by covering her "Dancing Barefoot.")
Television had two guitarists -- Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd -- who
made their sound strange, complex and lyrical. Edge has cited Verlaine
in particular as an influence -- see for yourself by listening to their
1977 album, Marquee Moon. (By the way, Television made a demo tape for
Island Records with Brian Eno in 1975, but they weren't picked up by
the label.) CBGB's was a club on New York City's Lower East Side that
became famous for the bands who called it home: The Patti Smith Group,
The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Talking
Heads, many more.
"Ask Zach de la Rocha...ask him about Rage Against The Machine...ask
Billy Corgan...ask him about Smashing Pumpkins"
Rage Against the Machine opened a few Popmart dates, and Bono and Larry
were on hand to introduce them, praising their mix of politics and music,
at the 2000 MTV Music Awards. The members of Rage who are busily auditioning
potential lead singers after de la Rocha's departure may dispute Bono's
claim that the band is "soon not to be with us."
The Smashing Pumpkins, who emerged in the days of Nirvana and thus
are lumped in with the alt-rock crowd though their sound and "concept
album" style was more prog-rock-influenced, gave their final concert
in Chicago in the week before U2's show. Lead singer Corgan reportedly
was no longer interested in doing battle against "the Britneys
of the world."
"Salman Rushdie is very precious to us"
As, apparently, U2 is very precious to Salman Rushdie. Much was made
in the press about the author of "The Satanic Verses" staying
at Bono's place while under fatwa (death sentence for blasphemy against
the prophet Mohammad); the papers made it sound as if Bono's house was
Rushdie's home during exile, later it was said this wasn't the case.
Bono and Rushdie met in Central America in the mid-80s (Rushdie was
doing research for his book about the revolution in Nicaragua, The Jaguar
Smile). In a ZooTV concert at Wembley Stadium, Macphisto called Rushdie,
who then walked out on stage -- his most public appearance since the
death sentence was pronounced on him. Rushdie's novel "The Ground
Beneath Her Feet," which includes the lyrics of the song, concerns
(among other things) a phenomenally popular rock band. This rock band
goes political, "organizing the Rock the World charity concerts...joining
the campaign for third-world debt relief," and then undergoes a
catastrophe requiring them to reinvent themselves: "Here are the
sequencers, the synthesizers, the sampling devices -- Fairlights, Sinclaviers.
Here are the musicians, working out how to lay their own playing over
the swirls and twirls..." And the lead singer wears "alarming
night-black goggle-like curve-around shades." And U2 at the End
of the World readers might recognize this theory put into the mouth
of one of the fictional band members:
"...it's technology that has taken the music back to its roots,
its origins in North African atonal call-and-response rhythms. When
the slaves came across the sea and were forbidden to use their drums,
their talking drums, they listened to the music of the Irish slave drivers,
the three-chord Celtic folk songs, and turned it into the blues. And
after the end of slavery they got their drums back and that was r&b,
and white kids took that from them and added amplification and that
was the birth of rock'n'roll. Which went back across the ocean to England
and Europe and got transformed by the Beatles, the first great rock
group to use studio technology, and that stereo mutation came back to
America...But the technology goes on changing, and with the invention
of sampling you can graft the oldest music on to the newest sounds and
then, shazam! in hip-hop, in scratching, you're right back to call and
response, back to the future."
The novel also mentions in passing a young Irish quartet called "Vox
Pop" and a "king of the loop, the czar of texture, King Ear"
named Eno Barber.
"This is for you, Guggi"
Childhood friend of Bono's who gave him his nickname; member of Lypton
Village and of U2's brother band, the Virgin Prunes. "The Children
Are Crying" ("I hear the children crying...") is a Virgin
Prunes song, and another Prunes member, Gavin Friday, once stuck a note
up on Bono's door when Bono didn't show up to meet him at a promised
time -- the note said "11 O'clock tick tock."
Guggi has become a painter of some note, and he has a website now:
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