‘Achtung Baby made me a grown man’

‘Achtung Baby made me a grown man’

It was a beautiful summer day somewhere in August. I was strolling down the main street of old town Dubrovnik with my friends, when amongst the endless stream of tourists a passing couple caught my eye, and I thought: “Holy shit that’s Bono”.


I had to turn around and pass him another time just to be sure. My friends just stood there, gaping. It took me some effort to convince them, and I must admit the sight was a bit of a disappointment. He wasn’t in a bad shape or anything, but he seemed so much older, and it was obvious that he had been enjoying a good amount of time offstage. Still though… Holy shit that’s Bono. Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration and sing about their grief…

My father kept a forgotten record collection in the garage and I discovered it rather by accident. One of the records was The Joshua Tree, the one with those beautiful photographs by Anton Corbijn on the sleeve. It was my first acquaintance with U2. I must have been 15 or somewhere near and although I’d already discovered that there was magic to be found in music, this was something new. It was music where something happened, where some great secret was being revealed while remaining hidden. I felt there was some great mystery in it, something important.

I didn’t read the newspapers back then, but I didn’t need them to understand what Bullet The Blue Sky was about. I sang along with With Or Without You and I just felt it. Or so I thought. Exit was a trance, a song from a nightmare. It needed to be played loud, really loud. I started listening to the other albums, first borrowing them from the library, later buying them. Boy, The Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum. I enjoyed the popular hit songs, but they were never my favorites. The ones that took more time listening to were the ones I came to love. Sometimes I could feel it coming even before it was there. Drowning Man, Promenade, Surrender, The Ocean… I felt like a star I felt the world could go far if they just listened to what I said.

Then came Achtung Baby and they will never surpass that one. Genius, top to bottom. Alright maybe I started skipping Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses after a while. Maybe not top to bottom, but still. I was in high school at the time, feeling old and wise beyond my years like any teenager, and when I listened to Achtung Baby I was a grown man.

Who cares about being turned down when you’re listening to The Fly? ‘A man can will rise, a man will fall, from the sheer face of love, like a fly on a wall, it’s no secret at all’. It is that exact line and the heartbreaking guitar solo that follows that have made me a musician. ‘Love, we shine like a burning star, we’re falling from the stars’. Yes it’s about love, and yes it’s about passion, but not I love you and you love me and starry starry night, no. Love. Words starting with capitals, words that are supposed to be the fabric but are slowly unraveling. Grace. One.

And so our paths crossed on that busy summer day in Croatia, and he was just another tourist with his wife, both dressed in dark clothes and both wearing sunglasses, seemingly enjoying the day with their children. They were taking pictures of each other and my friends pretended they were taking pictures of the castle behind them. I didn’t dare to walk up to him for a chat, just didn’t have the guts. I suddenly realized I don’t listen that often anymore, don’t even know why. Maybe I’ve grown too old for words with capital letters. ‘There is a silence that comes to a house, when no one can sleep. I guess it’s the price of love, I know it’s not cheap. Baby, baby, baby, light my way.’

Videoclip Lukas Batteau – I Drive On