365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

T-shirt #273 - U2 - Vertigo

T-shirt #273 - U2 - Vertigo

I am feeling a little guilty. I have not yet made a list of favorite bands. Recently, I made a list of favorite women musical artists. But I had not yet made the list of favorite bands of all time. I made a partial list in T-shirt #238 - The Clash, but it was incomplete. In that list, I did not even mention U2.

Now, granted, I was making a list of greatest bands of all time in a more empirical way in the Clash post, not a list of MY favorite bands, which are really two different things. I would put the Beatles in a top five best bands of all time list, no question, but I would not put them in my personal top five favorites.

Favorites are a very subjective thing. And I think I throw the word favorite around too easily on this blog. Can I really have as many favorites as I claim to have favorites? Doesn't the number diminish the specialness? In other words, the more favorites I claim to have, the less special each becomes. Ultimately, the list could grow so large that I have to make a list of favorite favorites and another list of leftovers: just regular favorites.

... okay, actually the top thirteen and a secondary list of many.

U2 is definitely a favorite band, but would it make my top ten? I don't think so. Here's a quick list of absolute top ten bands:

The Jam, Cocteau Twins, 10,000 Maniacs, The Indigo Girls, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Everything But the Girl, King Crimson, Radiohead, Stereolab, Spyro Gyra, Sigur Rós, The Clash.
Okay, that's thirteen. But I was going by iTunes playlists and most frequent listening stats. And there's a secondary list, and this is where you will find U2:
Kraftwerk, The Innocence Mission, Japan, Talking Heads, U2, REM, The Art of Noise, Genesis, Hooverphonic, DEVO, Simon and Garfunkel, Haircut 100, They Might Be Giants, New Order, Joy Division, The Style Council, Cabaret Voltaire, Lush, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, The Pixies.
And I am still leaving out many great bands and groups of artists who function like bands, such as Aphex Twin and most especially Machine Love (note the link to my entry on them in my other blog). I have given Machine Love some LOVE on my pages before, but in 273 posts, I am not sure where.

I would say this is a pretty good start to the favorite bands list. Though not a top ten, those thirteen bands are those I have listened to most often over the years. Though great and frequently in my rotation, U2 falls into a secondary category of favorites that I adore but for one reason or another were not as constantly played as first thirteen. I also think it's worth noting that of the thirteen "favorites," I have blog posts specifically dedicated to nine of those thirteen top bands, and I have plans for posts with three more of them.

All that said, though U2 is not in that top thirteen bands, I do love U2 and have a long history of loving them and listening to them.

This shirt comes from seeing the Vertigo tour in 2005 at the United Center in Chicago. I have to say it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. The concert was uplifting and powerfully moving with slow, quiet moments and all the pomp and circumstance of a big name rock band. I had seen U2 early in the band's career, and I had not wanted to see them once they hit it big, and so I had passed on many opportunities on their previous tours. I only relented because a, then, friend of mine wanted to see them. I was not disappointed. This concert was amazing.

I figure I do not need to write much about U2. Most people know the band. If you happen to have lived on another planet for the last 30 years, start your research with this U2 WIKIPEDIA.


Around the time U2 put out the album containing the hit song "Vertigo," they also used it for the first advertisement campaign that they endorsed: Apple's iPod. I am not sure if I have mentioned my thing woth commercials on the blog yet, but I mute commercials. I really cannot stand commercials on television, thus the unavoidable ones that the marketing manipulators are trying to sneak in on us drive my crazy. Anyway, I almost never have a TV on unless I am doing something else, and so while I am working or reading or whatever, I mute commercials. Thus, not only does a commercial need to be in frequent rotation on one or all of the channels I watch to penetrate my wall of resistance, but it also has to be catchy. Thus, with U2's promotion of Apple's iPod, it took many weeks but soon I found myself affected by the insidious powers of the commercial even as I tried to resist. Granted, a digital music player is something I would naturally want to own anyway, but I found that my desire for an iPod was heightened if not solely created by these commercials and their ubiquity. Definitely, a lot of this infection and its virulence had to with U2 and the power "Vertigo."


I saw my first U2 concert in 1983 as the band toured with its third album War. And even though "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day" were hits, not very many people packed the small Detroit Grand Circus Theater, which was later the State and currently the Filmore Theater. When the band came out, everyone in the audience rushed the stage, and so my, then, girlfriend of the time and I had a whole row to ourselves in which to spread out and dance.

It was a very good concert, and I heard some of my favorite songs from October, but it was not better or even close to as good as the 2005 Vertigo tour show I saw in Chicago.

THE RULE OF FIRST LISTENING (well, almost a rule)

U2 provided me with a rule that is not always true but is often enough true that I am calling it a rule and one of the many RULES OF CHRIS (see category).

More often than not, the first album one discovers for a band becomes and is always the favorite thereafter. I found this to be true with David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Laurie Anderson. I have also found this to be true with U2. I did not discover the band until its second album, October, was out. This album is far and away my favorite, dwarfing even Joshua Tree, which many people would count as their favorite.

A friend of mine in college, whose nickname was Madge or sometimes Maggot, had seen U2 when it tured with its first album Boy. She saw the band perform in a roller rink in Detroit. For her,  Boy was her favorite. But that was the first one she heard. For me, I first heard October, and so it was my favorite.

There are bands that break this rule. I probably would argue that Animals is my favorite Pink Floyd album and Central Reservation my favorite Beth Orton album, but these are exceptions to the rule, and they do not make the rule any less true.


I know I will get the details of this story wrong, so I plan to update it. But my wife loves to share that she jumped on stage during a U2 concert and got Bono's sweat on her. I don't remember much more than that, so I will wait to ask her about the story again and update this part.


Back in 1988, I took a group of students from my English 105 class to Chicago. We went to museums and the Hard Rock Cafe and had a great time. I have to say, it was one of the best weekends of my life. Definitely top five. The documentary about U2, Rattle and Hum, debuted that weekend and we went to see the movie and treated it like a concert, dancing and grooving to the music and secretly drinking beer. This one guy who was with us smuggled in 15 beers on his person without the means of a bag or small ice chest. Amazing. I thought I had a digital version of a picture from that weekend. Again, another thing to update. The blog oozes and grows in an amorphous blob like way.

These are just a few of my U2 experiences. I have listened to U2 for many years and enjoy the band's music a great deal. One of my favorite musicians, Brian Eno, produced some of their best albums. U2 is also responsible for introducing me to other producers of theirs, such as Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite. I do not love all of U2's albums. I am not fond of Pop at all. I HATED Unforgettable Fire, when I first heard it, but now I love it. I also hated Achtung Baby when I first heard it. Though I do not like all of it, "One" is now one of my favorite songs of all time, not just U2 songs, but songs by anyone.

U2 has been a part of my life for over 30 years, and my life is richer because of my experiences with the band. To close, I am presenting just a few videos of my favorite U2 songs. I will try to restrict myself to five, but this is not easy.


U2 Tomorrow

U2 Shadows and tall trees

Mary J. Blige, U2 - One

U2 - A Sort Of Homecoming Live

Here's a cheat, including two of my favorites all together in one live video.

U2 - Elevation - Beautiful day - Until the end of the world Live From Boston 2001

Okay, it's really tough to stop at five videos. I may share a U2 playlist another time.


- chris tower - first published 1312.19 - 18:55
FINAL publication - 1312.20 - 15:43