Art installation #3 – @U2 > Ordinary Love

I appreciate music.

Like art and beauty, taste in music, is totally personal and subjective.

It doesn’t matter what type of music I like or that you like. No matter what it is; the fact that we like it is enough to have a positive impact on our brains and our lives.

This post was inspired by U2’s new song Ordinary Love because in watching the video and listening to the lyrics, I got to thinking about how music affects our lives and our ability to savour it all.

Enjoyment of music causes your whole brain to change.

PET scans of brains listening to music that is enjoyed by the subject show that the whole brain “lights up” and is utilized. People that read, play and even just plain listen to music have less dementia. It makes sense when you think about it from a “use it or lose it” point of view. Because you use your whole brain to enjoy music there’s less chance of you losing that brain.

Music is the quickest way I know to elevate my mood to pure joy.

When music videos were a new phenomenon in the 1980s, I was fascinated with them. All it took was some high hair, a few basic props, a voice and presto: a video was hatched. A classic example was Paul Young singing, “every time you go away”.

Did you watch it? Despite the insertion of frenetic old concert clippings, you can’t help but focus on that compelling voice communicating utter heartbreak. Those bare bones shots of Young in a room with a few lanterns and a fish net whilst looking tragic might indeed seem pathetic as an art statement today but in the 80s they rocked my world. Maybe Adele got her hand moves from him…but I digress.

The point is – even in all that contrived merman habitat – it is visual simplicity that forces you back to what the song is about and what that voice is able to convey. Ouch; what he’s singing about really hurts.

I haven’t watched TV since 1994 but music videos lost me way before that. There was just way too much interference with how I might use my own mind to imagine a song. I like to USE my mind to imagine the song coming to life and not have a plot forced onto me as a passive receptacle. I mostly just like to listen to (and imagine) music in the quiet of my own space. I don’t have to go and see a band even when they come to town. U2 is the exception.

U2 gives The Beatles a run for my money in the category of my all-time favourite band.

U2 ends up winning the race because – quite simply – they are still alive and also it’s impressive how they’ve gotten along and managed to stay together all these years. I forgive them if they are sometimes affected in their rock star personnas. I choose to concentrate on their lyrics, riffs and Bono’s voice.

Bad may be my favourite song of all time. It speaks to how powerless we are to help others sometimes. To allow someone to wander on their life’s journey when that involves watching them hurt themselves is an ordeal for all involved. The only way I can make sense of it is that they teach me how I want to live via my reaction to how they are living.

My favourite part in Bad comes late in the song where Bono screams, “I’m wide awake”…and then,ever so gently, “I”m not sleeping”. I’ve always taken that to mean, we can’t numb out. We’ve got to live wide awake even if life can be painful to be present and bear witness. We’ve still got a chance to make our own life count for what we will. You can’t go around life; you’ve got to go through it. The song is from the 1984 album Unforgettable Fire. It was an unforgettable album.

I’ve seen U2 in concert four times with my husband.

I hope we see them again. Though I’d never call myself a groupie (well, okay – Bono is on my shortlist of “substitutes” for my husband should I ever need one and he’s handy – cause that seems pretty likely) I do get the U2 newsletter and I have fallen for their new song, Ordinary Love. Surprisingly I like the video too. It’s like U2 have matured and gotten over themselves a bit. They’re present but they let their words be in the forefront…as you’ll see if you watch it.

I like the artful way it is filmed.

I like the fact that its minimalist and relatively low-budget. I love the lyrics and the melody. I find it resonating through me to my core. And if that’s not art, I don’t know what is.

Here are the words…

U2’s lyrics for Ordinary Love
The sea wants to kiss the golden shore
The sunlight warms your skin
All the beauty that’s been lost before
Wants to find us again

I can’t fight you anymore
It’s you I’m fighting for
The sea throws rocks together
But time leaves us polished stones

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Birds fly high in the summer sky
And rest on the breeze
The same wind will take care of you and
We’ll build our house in the trees

Your heart is on my sleeve
Did you put it there with a magic marker
For years I would believe
That the world couldn’t wash it away

‘Cause we can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Are we tough enough
For ordinary love

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

What do I think it all means?

We’ve got to feel and deal with ordinary life – even when it hurts. If we do, if we are brave enough to stay awake (and not twist and turn away), we may just get to go to that next step. Why do I always end up exploring grief when I mean to stick to joy? Because when we surrender to the fact that they are inseparable, we may get to live a life that takes us higher and further. We may discover that there’s nothing ordinary about love at all.

Even when I feel the sadness in a song, I feel the joy and ecstasy of being able to feel at all. Music helps me savour it all.


  1. Holly

    I came to this blog for information on humanely-raised meat around Calgary, and I find that you also love U2! I think I’ve found my new favourite blog!

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