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Larry is really the Pete Best of U2. We should have thrown him out the first month. He was much too good-looking then and still is. We never found our Ringo. -- Edge

Love and Peace or Else

There are two things I can't do fast enough:

One is tie my skates next to a salacious sheet of ice. That boyish impatience has stayed with me to this day. It can be 6 a.m. on a dry, cold January day, and that warm-blooded eagerness goes right to my fingers. If you threw a keyboard down in front of me in the middle of skate tying, I could type 700 words a minute.

The other is open a much anticipated new CD.

My third-favorite quote of all time is by Sir Thomas Beecham: "The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought."

Music provides a current of energy I need to live. So, combine my fervent CD anxiousness with the insane ways CDs are packaged in 2004 and you have an experience that is only more maddening than breaking a skate lace in the middle of said skate tying -- especially since I'm usually opening my new CD while DRIVING. Is anything more difficult to open than a new CD? The next time Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow get into a conference room they should seal the doors with that last piece of sticky tape that seals a CD case. What is that thing??!! And when a piece of it gets on your finger, you CANNOT get it off. It's like a strand of hair on a piece of soap. I hear they seal nuclear reactors with that substance. Are record companies doing everything possible to discourage CD purchases? It's not downloading, bad music, $18.99 for a new CD, or bad marketing that sent CD sales plummeting at the start of the decade. IT'S THAT DAMN BIONIC ADHESIVE!! After the TV show MacGyver was cancelled in 1992 the CD industry must have bought all of MacGyver's bonding strips at a MacGyver going-out-of-business sale.

The other benefit of a new, freshly opened CD is the sweet smell of the liner notes booklet. That's the first thing I do once I get the industrialized tape off the case. I bury my nose right in the booklet and inhale deeply. I did the same thing with those prehistoric copier machines we had in elementary school and I did the same thing when my Dad would take me to hockey games as a kid. He'd buy the hockey program GOAL and I would open up that thing and SNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIF deeply. I loved the smell of a fresh new hockey program. The only time it wouldn't give me a hockey high is when I realized I just inhaled deeply on an action photo of a sweaty Johnny "Pie" McKenzie.

Last week, I was heading to my mom and dad's for a visit. Before the two-hour trip, I rushed into Borders, plopped down my $12.99 and got U2's newest release, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Its title is a perfect metaphor for this CBA season. The negotiations between the owners and players are much like a bomb, figuratively speaking. If it goes off and obliterates the season, who knows what the damage will be? So, with that in mind, let's go through U2's 11 songs on their new disc as we wait for Gary and Bob to start dancing.

1. Vertigo Money lyric: "A feeling is so much stronger than a thought."

A 3-minute, 15-second song of pure U2 worldly testosterone that makes nearly every other band sound like a local garage band. The above money lyric is the exact reason there hasn't been an NHL season thus far. The only way to save the season is to remove emotion from the equation. I don't know who decides the order of U2's songs, but they have fallen into a certain pattern in terms of tempo and style. I think I could do better. Baby names and song orders on mix CDs are two strengths of mine. Song order is what made Joshua Tree PERFECT. "Vertigo" is the equivalent of "Beautiful Day" on All That You Can't Leave Behind and the pattern continues from there. These songs are a little better, but the How to... CD has actually made me appreciate ATYCLB more. That CD is a lot better than I gave it credit for.

2. Miracle Drug Money lyric: "Freedom is a scent, like the top of a newborn baby's head."

The money lyric is my favorite on the CD because the smell of a baby's head is my favorite scent in the world -- right before John "Pie" McKenzie. This is a lyric Bono would not have thought of when he was 21. Now that he is 44, it fits. And it explains the durability of the band. I like this song the more I hear it. What is the NHL's miracle drug to a CBA truce? An aggressive NHLPA offer to start. Put the pressure on the owners. Make the offer public. Spell it out. Let us see it.

Bono and U2 may know more about the NHL's CBA situation than one may think.

3. Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own Money lyric: "And it's you when I look in the mirror/And it's you when I don't pick up the phone/Sometimes you can't make it on your own."

Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow have similar levels of stubbornness and one wonders if a mediator, or mediators of some sort, is the only solution. What about Brian Burke, Ken Dryden and Don Meehan? Burke was once an agent, a league VP and a GM. Dryden was a player and a front office suit. Meehan is the players' hawk. Some of his players are whales in terms of contracts, but his reputation is solid. Let's say the three take the players' proposal to Bettman next week. Bettman tweaks, and then the Three Wise Men go back to Goodenow. They talk about where the owners could move. Burke knows. Dryden knows. They've been there. That proposal is taken to Bettman and civilized conversations again are held to get a deal done. At that point, if the two sides can't get together, cancel the season.

4. Love and Peace or Else Money lyric: "Baby don't fight/We can talk this thing through/Between me and you/I'll call or you'll phone."

This song was too high on the CD. I would have had it lower. It's the "Bullet the Blue Sky" song on the disc. That song was the fourth song on The Joshua Tree. See the synergy? "Love and Peace" is nowhere near as powerful as "Bullet," and it will play much better live than on a CD, but it is good and grimy. Imagine Bettman or Goodenow singing this lyric in a Mississauga karaoke bar? Speaking of "Love and Peace," I believe that tickets for the first game after the lockout should be free. The players will give up their pay for the first game back. The owners will provide a high-quality item as a giveaway. The players will come out for the warm-up and give the fans a standing ovation around the ice and they all will throw autographed team jerseys, provided by the owners, into the stands. Love and Peace or Else.

5. City of Blinding Lights Money lyric: "Can you see the beauty inside of me?/What happened to the beauty I had inside of me?"

This is a great good morning song and should have led off the disc. The way it fades in and builds and builds, and is immediately listenable would have made it an ideal leadoff hitter. This won't be a single because it's too long, but it's pure U2. It is an ideal summer song. The above money lyric reminds us of the NHL. What happened to the beauty and fun? Well, it's been smothered by money, corporate ticket holders, arenas that are too big, stick clutching and hooking of those with and without the puck, and less net to shoot at. A new CBA needs drastic on-ice change as part of the NHL's civil war reconstruction.

6. All Because of You Money lyric: "I like the sound of my own voice/I didn't give anyone else a choice."

This is the best song on the CD and should be the next video/single. If Henry Kissinger melted every U2 song in the band's discography into a metallic ball for the purpose of cultivating one song, planted the songball of matter, watered it, and put it under a heat lamp, he would reap this "All Because of You." It should have been the second song on the CD. Having this song sixth is like batting Manny Ramirez sixth. A waste. Playlist order matters! "All Because of You." Great title. Got me to thinking, why are YOU a hockey fan? I became a fan for life all because of my Dad who would listen to his favorite team on AM radio and write down all the game stats in a notebook. As always, I was by his side for every goal.

7. A Man and a Woman Money lyric: "I know that everything is not OK/But you're like honey on my tongue"

I could do without this song to tell you the truth. In my mind it's the weakest on the disc. Do this: When you buy the new U2 CD, burn a CD or download it on your iPod and put the songs in this order for a better experience. I'm better at this than I am naming the top of a newborn baby's head.

1. City of Blinding Lights 2. Vertigo 3. All Because of You 4. Crumbs From Your Table 5. One Step Closer 6. Love and Peace 7. Miracle Drug 8. Original of the Species 9. A Man and a Woman 10. Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own 11. Yahweh

There. Much better.

8. Crumbs From Your Table Money lyric: "Where you live should not decide/Whether you live or whether you die."

Doesn't the NHL have to go to full blown revenue sharing to support teams like Nashville and Pittsburgh? Can the Pens and Preds even afford a $30 million payroll? Or are they just mice nibbling at crumbs from the table of the Red Wings, Avalanche and the like? I don't understand why massive revenue sharing hasn't been a part of the equation. You don't need revenue sharing in a 16 or 21 team league. But 30?

9. One Step Closer Money lyric: "I'm 'round the corner from anything that's real/I'm across the road from hope."

Noel Gallagher of Oasis gave Bono the phrase that spawned this tune. The above money lyric is a good phrase for the NHL's current state of affairs. But as we've been saying here, an aggressive offer will be coming soon from the players in a week or so. It will put all the pressure on the owners to make a deal out of the offer. I still remain confident we will have hockey this year.

10. Original of the Species Money lyric: "Some things you shouldn't get too good at/like smiling, crying and celebrity/Some people got way too much confidence baby."

Another thing you shouldn't be too good at is producing good PR, because it usually is masking the truth. The NHL says it wants to have an even playing field economically, and that has driven their PR machine. But remember, there is only one reason we are having this work stoppage: to lower and control labor costs. Every corporation does it every now and then.

11. Yahweh Money lyric: "Take these hands/Teach them how to carry/Take these hands/don't make a fist, no."

A spiritual finale in the vein of "40," "MLK" and "Mothers of the Disappeared." A fitting ending to a wonderful work of art and a good theme song for the NHL and NHLPA to adopt. "Yahweh" is an expository song of cleansing and hope. There is no need anymore to make a fist in this negotiation. The time is now for the NHLPA to make an aggressive offer. Then the owners need to convene and go point by point over the proposal and give an aggressive counteroffer calmly, professionally and purposefully. This is an exciting time. They will clarify themselves and we will soon know who wants to dismantle the atomic bomb. And who doesn't.

© ESPN.com, 2004.