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Scott Calhoun

Where Could We Go from Here?

The state of U2 studies.

While Greg Garrett was driving to work at Baylor University one morning in the fall of 2001, U2's song "Beautiful Day" popped up on the radio. "It was so precisely the thing I needed to hear at the moment that I actually had to pull the car over because my eyes were filled with tears I couldn't see the road," Garrett recalled in a recent interview. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, the catalyst for personal transformations and new beginnings around the world, brought about Garrett's moment of surrender. He had liked U2's music since the early 1980s, but had listened on a low-fi soul system for two decades. Now he heard with heart and mind: stereo for the spirit.

"I could not stop resisting it anymore when I observed the effects their songs had all over the world, but particularly for us here in America," Garrett said. His awakening prepared him to write a book's worth of insights into the spiritual themes in U2's music. "Hey, they were doing a whole lot of things all along that I really wasn't aware of."

A "whole lot of things": exactly, enough to fuel a steadily growing shelf of books, from introductions like Garrett's We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2 to more ambitious studies where the questions we ask of great works of art are being asked of the music and mission of U2. The investigation is just getting off the ground, but the future of studying the how, why, and "what for" of these Dublin-based artists looks bright.

Many of the iPod generation might miss this fact: U2's songbook began thirty years ago and has nary an entry that fails to inquire about some aspect of life on earth as it is in heaven. Even the occasional clunkers bleed with passion, making it hard to turn a deaf ear to the earnest men asking eternal questions. Fueled by a punk music spirit from its beginning, the band forwent confrontational antics in shows but wrote songs that prevented their audience from sitting back, enjoying a good show, then returning home to their lives ...

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