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U2: Remembering Zooropa at 30

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This week is the 30th Anniversary of U2’s Zooropa. The album was recorded (or started) during a break in the Zoo TV tour that was supporting Achtung Baby, during which the band reinvented themselves. In many ways, Zooropa can be thought of as a companion album. It’s in the same vein, uses some leftover Achtung material, and is inspired by the tour supporting that album. I like a lot of U2’s material after this album, but this is possibly the last great front-to-back album from the band. Though for me, the inclusion of Johnny Cash’s vocal track “The Wanderer” gave it a weird feel at the end. I wish that would’ve been a B-Side or maybe saved for a charity album or something.

The night this was released was an odd one. We were driving back from Wisconsin after seeing Soul Asylum, The Gin Blossoms, and The Magnolias. We needed to make it back to Homer’s to work the Midnight sale for this release. We had plenty of time, but 4th of July traffic and a huge semi-truck accident over by Honey Creek in Iowa delayed us for hours. We did end up making it just in time, and then there was a shooting in the Old Market that night. We had a huge line, though, and when I got back to Dundee, I had my sit down with it.

Now, I seem to remember people not digging “Numb” as a single, but damn if that song didn’t pump me up at the time, and it still does. It holds up. The opening title track, I am sure, got me very excited for the rest of the album with the dark guitar and shimmering vocals. I bet I WTF’d “Babyface” at the time and started thinking this was going to be a glorified b-sides album. I love that track now, and considering how much I ended up liking Zooropa, I did soon after that also. Even though people made fun of the chorus, “Lemon” is a perfect U2 pop song that harkened a bit back to the 80s.

I don’t know if “Stay (Faraway, So Close) was my favorite song of the album then, but it is now. It’s truly stood the test of time. I KNOW those opening beats to “Daddy’s Going To Pay For Your Crashed Car” got me all randy. I was so entrenched in techno and dance music at the time, and I was still going to raves and clubbing many nights a week. The opening of that song still does it. I am sure I poo-pooed “Somedays Are Better Than Others” as being too middle of the road and cheeseball positive, and as a 20 year-old, I would’ve been right. I love it now, of course. Even though “The First Time” is a gorgeous and sweet track, I bet I liked it; even a 20 year-old me at 2 AM would’ve caught the beauty in that song. We talked about the Cash, track, and I wish “Dirty Day” was the closer, and even though I would not have made that the closing track, it is much better than the Cash track.

I know I ended up loving Zooropa soon after it came out, and it is a favorite album of mine to this day, and I play it often. I know the band is not fully on board with it anymore, but I think it, along with Achtung Baby, is a one two punch that they can be proud of.


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