In 1980, U2 released their debut album, Boy, with a striking album cover photo featuring a six-year-old boy staring directly at the camera. Three years later, the same face reappeared on the cover of War. The child (who has been featured on many of U2’s albums) was Peter Rowen, now an almost 40 year old photographer. Appearing on the cover of U2 albums Boy and War as well as a greatest hits compilation, Peter Rowen‘s boyhood face is an image often associated with the band, and has become almost iconic, and most certainly immediately recognized by the majority of their fans.. A few years ago, the band gave him a copy of a photo they took for an album cover, and wrote messages to him on the back. Bono wrote, ‘Stay a child. I am enjoying it.’ “Bono lived across the road and was friends with my brother,” Rowen says. He rarely gets recognized. “But when people find out, sometimes they say my eyes are still the same.”


I wonder if my eyes are still the same as the youthful teenager who first discovered U2 and their music. For me Boy is still my favourite album of theirs (a close second is Live at Red Rocks) . Their sound on the album is primal, unfinished, raw and passionate, idealistic, it has a challenging swagger, a threatening, youthful bravado, a sneer, and it struck a chord with the boy I was then. They are still a great band, and still have something worthwhile to say, but I always get the feeling when I hear or see them that I am watching the next Rolling Stones in the making. By this I mean touring when they are 70, a huge commercial, money-making brand, music diluted to ringtones.I guess in the suburb of Rock they are the statesmen, directors and businessmen while the Stones are the pensioners who live in the granny flats at the back of the house.  Now Bono has conversations on the couch with Oprah… To me that’s kind of sad because once they spoke for me, once they represented me, that young idealistic teenager and then that returning soldier. They especially spoke for me during my years at university when I was at conflict with the Apartheid Government and the society within which I found myself.  Now they cosy-up to Oprah and have clothes brands and walk about with donation tins in their hands to pass the time between concerts..



Still… nevertheless they are a kickass band, and have rocked, and still continue to rock. Lyrically they still have a potency despite being a bit too slick (if you grasp my meaning) these days.





This is one of their better “newer” songs:


Don’t believe what you hear
Don’t believe what you see
If you just close your eyes
You can feel the enemy
When I first met you girl
You had fire in your soul
What happened your face of melting in snow?
Now it looks like this

And you can swallow
Or you can spit
You can throw it up
Or choke on it
And you can dream
So dream out loud
You know that your time is coming ’round
So don’t let the bastards grind you down

No, nothing makes sense
Nothing seems to fit
I know you’d hit out
If you only knew who to hit
And I’d join the movement
If there was one I could believe in
Yeah I’d break bread and wine
If there was a church I could receive in
‘Cause I need it now

To take the cup
To fill it up
To drink it slow
I can’t let you go
I must be an acrobat
To talk like this
And act like that
And you can dream
So dream out loud
And don’t let the bastards grind you down

Oh, it hurts baby
What are we going to do? Now it’s all been said
No new ideas in the house and every book has been read

And I must be an acrobat
To talk like this
And act like that
And you can dream
So dream out loud
And you can find
Your own way out
And you can build
And I can will
And you can call
I can’t wait until
You can stash
And you can seize
And I can love
And I can love
And I know that the tide is turning ’round
So don’t let the bastards grind you down

u2 red rocks