I've been a fan all my life. No song was a bad song and Bono could do or say no wrong.
They were Irish - not to be a U2 fan was downright unpatriotic. They sang about Northern Ireland and Martin Luther King and San Salvador. Being a U2 fan was a serious job.
Then came Achtung Baby and the madness of Zoo TV and U2 became fun. With "Elevation", they were unspeakably cool. With Bono's extra-curricular work, they were always right. At Slane, I was in the presence of grace.
U2 - the sons of God made gods of rock.
But things started to change.
I learned more about third world debt and I wondered if Bono was going about things in the right way. Live 8 worried me. Then I read No Logo and that nailed it; the man was wrong. Despite what he sang in An Atomic Bomb, his methods were crumbs from the rich man's table.
A change in tax laws for millionaires saw U2 move their company out of Ireland. Fuck that, I thought.
All in all though, what's that got to do with the music?
Good point. I was a U2 fan for the music from the very start. Even if I don't agree with Bono, what does it matter as long as I love the songs?
However, I have heard cracks in the soundtrack. First were the Best Of's. Ok, they were a way to get my hands on some B-Sides but I didn't like the idea of U2 releasing Best Of compilations.
Then came Bono's work on "What's Going On?" It was a terrible song but it was for charity and he had tried a good charity song with Wycleff that had bombed so I couldn't blame him really.
And then the unthinkable. A couple of songs on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb were just south of naff!
John The Bad said what?! Sounds of breaking furniture and raised voices. A woman screams.
I know, I know but it's the truth. There's something about "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" that, while it doesn't near make me cringe, it does fail to click for me. It's not that I don't buy the song - it's about Bono's dead father! - but I just find it a little... off.
So, lately, I've found myself loosing some interest in U2. I was starting to realise that they didn't matter as much anymore. Tell a rock band that they no longer matter and they'll tell you they'd be better off dead.
Trish got me Zoo TV for my birthday on DVD and while I loved seeing it again, I couldn't help but feel that things were better back then.
U2 fell off my radar.
To make things worse, a couple of weeks ago, I heard that they were releasing another Best Of. They've taken their earlier Best Of 80's and Best Of 90's to bring us... well, the Best Of the Best Of's. 18 songs that include a couple of new ones. U2 going for the Xmas market, again.
One of the new songs is called "Window In The Skies." I heard it last week on Tom Dunne and to be honest I was only half listening. Then Tony Fenton played it today and I gave it a proper listen.
The song played in my headphones and I grinned from ear to ear.
It's just great. It's about love with a capital L. It's beautiful. It's serious. It's fun. It's cool. It's U2.
God hasn't left the building yet.