U2: Creative Longevity

Last Thursday my husband and I went to the U2 concert in Salt Lake City, his eighth, my fifth. Many of our memories together involve U2–like the time we bought the Joshua Tree album, a bag of Doritos, and headed out on our first road trip together through the Mohave desert’s Joshua trees (so cool!) on the way to my dad’s house. A few years later we had so much fun seeing a U2 show in Tacoma, Washington that we drove to Vancouver, BC the next night to catch it again. Many years later, we caravanned to Denver with young kids-in-tow to see the band.

I’ll leave it to my husband and his music-loving friends to debate the quality of U2’s recent albums, I’m simply impressed by the band’s creative longevity. How has U2 managed to connect with so many fans for so many years? Among the 50,000 of us who watched Thursday’s concert were elementary school kids perched on their dads’ shoulders, teens swaying with friends, and many of us sporting gray hair.

I think the answer is authenticity. Whether it’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Bullet The Blue Sky,” or “Walk On,” Bono writes about issues that matter to him. And he backs up his words with political action.

As writers we receive a lot of mixed messages: don’t follow trends…here are the trends. But I think we should learn a lesson from U2: write what matters to you, means something to you, and you’ll connect with others.

And it doesn’t hurt if you look good in leather pants!