U2 - I Will Follow
From the album Boy (1980)
I believe it’s fair to say that anyone who has been paying even cursory attention to Google News this past week has probably heard at least a little bit about the controversy surrounding U2 giving away their latest album to something like 500 million people for free, without asking if they actually wanted the music or not. The uproar over this seemingly benevolent (if also self-serving) act seemed to strike a nerve in millions (and disturbingly, this seems to have galvanized a more vociferous group than some other, more deserving outrages). It’s a band giving you free music, preempting your routine of going online and stealing it from them…!
It’s funny that, unrelated to this news, I found myself listening to one of U2’s classic songs for the first time in a while the other night; I Will Follow is probably one of their first biggies, and deservedly so. Before the band was hobnobbing with presidents and trying to cure the ills of the world, they were just a hungry young Irish rock band with bad haircuts, trying to cut through the waning days of disco and the echos of punk with something raw, new, and exciting. “Follow” has all those elements, a bare, stripped down assault built on that signature razor guitar slashing of The Edge, Bono”s curt, tense delivery, and a thumping, militaristic vibe that fit perfectly in the post-Vietnam, pre-Reagan era of 1980. Though I’ve never been a huge, huge follower of the band, I’ve always dug this particular track, and my appreciation for it has only deepened over the past decade or so. It’s always a rush to hear a band letting loose with an electrifying performance like this one, and it’s the blueprint for all the future successes U2 would go on to have.