My Other Husband

One of my irrational fears (sadly, there are many) is that a musician has died whenever I hear several of his/her songs in a short span of time on the radio.  If it’s not Two for Tuesday or Perfect Album Side time on some of my NYC stations, I assume the worst — that I am bearing witness to a posthumous musical tribute.  In reality, it’s almost always just stupid coincidence from one station to the next.

Today, I nearly panicked.  My Other Husband’s band had songs popping up all over the radio.  My concern for his well-being immediately skyrocketed.

Who is he?  He fronts my favorite band ever.  Our relationship spans 23 years.  Well, in a one-way sort of manner.  If you know me in real life, none of this will be news to you.  Importantly, this includes my Real-Life Husband.  But for everyone else’s sake, it’s time I came clean about my Other Husband.

1987: My first concert ever.  Brendan Byrne Arena (now Continental Arena), NJ – aka The Meadowlands.  I was 15.  Tenth row floor, people.  I had no idea at the time how amazing these seats were, and that it would take me the better part of 20 years to occupy them again.  Some obscure band called Lone Justice was the opening act.

And then – then – this.

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{I know, the clip says Syracuse, not New Jersey.  But the music and the vest were the same.}

I remember, in my virgin mind, looking at Bono in his sleeveless vest and long hair (remember, 1987) and thinking that this must be the definition of sex.  Seriously.  And it didn’t hurt that The Joshua Tree was the biggest thing since, well, any contemporary album I had ever known at that point.

And so, our relationship was born right there.  At least on my end.

He was busy traveling the world, though, getting famous.  Over the top famous.  And I was just in high school.  But I visited him often when he came to town, in my horrible nosebleed arena seats.  I visited him in the movie theater over and over to watch screenings of “Rattle and Hum.”  I visited him when he played other towns.  I even visited him in other countries (who wouldn’t love chanting “Ooo dos” with 90,000 Spaniards?).  I lined up my resources to flood the Ticketmaster phone lines at the stroke of 9:00am whenever the new shows went on sale.

I bought every album and committed it to memory.  Yes, even the bad ones.  (Yes, even Pop.)  I bought the posters that lined my dorm walls.  I bought the bootlegs.  The B-sides.  All of it.

He got more famous still, my Other Husband.  He became a quadrillionaire or something.  He met with world leaders, philanthropists, humanitarians.  People started to turn on him.  They said he was an egomaniac.  They said he cared more about celebrity than the music.  But I forgave him because he kept on singing for me.

Over the years, there have been a series of close calls and near misses of meeting my Other Husband that I have learned to live with.

  • His Manhattan apartment was ten blocks (yet worlds away) from mine.  But I was never the person who saw him at the local deli.
  • That video when U2 rides the streets of Manhattan on a flatbed truck?  I missed it.  By about three blocks.
  • Don’t even get me started about the day he showed up at my workplace and attended a meeting in a room adjacent to where I sat.
  • And then the narrowest of misses – the time he pulled a girl up from the audience who stood four feet from me.  It should have been me.  I deserved it.  She didn’t even know the words.  But her boobs were huge, so there you go.

I guess it’s just not meant to be.  And maybe it’s for the best.  Because, I’ll tell you, I’ve spent more time than I’ll admit here on what, exactly, I would say if I met him.  It all comes up short.  How do you tell someone that their music has been the soundtrack of your life without seeming like just another nutter?  It would make me feel ridiculous.

And I know what our relationship has meant to me – even if he doesn’t.

I lost count of how many times I’ve seen U2 in concert but I could tell you almost every set list for each show.  I could tell you what was happening in my life just then and what song I liked the best.  And I’ll argue with you all day that, pound for pound, The Joshua Tree was not actually their best album.  I mean, if you want.  Or we could talk about normal things, I guess.  Just don’t bring up the current Spiderman on Broadway debacle that my Other Husband is desperately trying to salvage.

No, I’m not a stalker – not by the technical legal definition in the State of New York.  I’m not crazy.  In fact, I’m probably too guarded and cautious as I get older.  But not about my Other Husband and his music.  It’s probably the one thing that I’m sort of loopy and obsessive about.

So, guys, great news – he’s not dead.  There was a ton of U2 playing on the radio this morning because the tickets went on sale for this summer’s shows.  And I didn’t know this in advance – I’m slipping.  But that’s OK.  I’ll be there – even if we have to move that summer vacation we just planned.

So, now that you think I’m certifiable, I’ll leave you with this.

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It’s one of my live favorites.  It makes me feel 15, 22, 29 and 38 — all at once.  Say what you will about Bono, about U2, but you can’t argue with any piece of music that transcends all the periods of your life.

And for that, I truly love my Other Husband.



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  1. Jessica says:

    What a relief your other husband isn’t dead. I was very worried for as I read this that he had passed away without ever knowing about your relationship with him.

  2. Reb says:

    Well said

  3. This is fascinating to me because I have never experienced this level of adoration and you are now the second of my pals to write a post like this. I have been to tons of concerts in my life and have songs that make up the soundtrack of my life. However, I have never felt this depth of emotion for the person behind the music. I remember watching old clips of girls crying over Elvis, or peeing their pants over Paul McCartney, or passing out for Donny Osmond and I just didn’t get it. The closest I get is the panting I do when Ralph Buckley announces “the New York Megamillions jackpot is now…” 😉

    You should check out author Julie Compton’s post on Dave Matthews. You two are kindred spirits.

  4. Onnie says:

    Ok, I’ll bite… pound for pound, what is their best album?

    • fordeville says:

      Achtung Baby. I can defend my claim top to bottom. Let me know if you want to set up a conference call to debate.

      • Onnie says:

        No need to debate… I’m good with that choice. Achtung Baby was the soundtrack of the end of college and the transition to the real world for me. Plus, “Even Better Than the Real Thing” kicking off the start of the Melrose Place first season finale is as memorable to me as Brenda breaking up with Dylan in his Porsche with “Losing My Religion” playing behind them.

        The big question: which is better, “Where the Streets Have No Name” or “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”?

        • fordeville says:

          Onnie, you are my pop culture hero with the vintage Melrose and 90210 moments! Totally impressive.
          And I’m glad we’re on the same page re Achtung Baby. It’s an exhausting argument to make, but I’ll do it when I have to.

          To answer your question, I’m always going to be a “Where the Streets Have No Name” girl. It’s the opening track, the gateway to fabulousness. And still a high point of their show when performed live. One caveat: The live gospel choir version of “I Still Haven’t Found…” (Madison Square Garden, 1987 — I missed it by one night) is equally amazing.

          • Ed says:

            Achtung Baby. Achtung, baby? Really, I cannot fathom this. I’m disappointed. But yet, I question my choices based on your history with Other Husband.

            For what it’s worth, I’ve wavered between Unforgettable Fire, War, and Joshua Tree. Currently I’d vote for Unforgettable.

            And as you know, the Volume garage band covered basically 98.5% of Joshua. I don’t even dislike Achtung or Pop. I just can’t fathom Achtung Baby as their best ever.

          • fordeville says:

            I stand by my choice, though Unforgettable Fire may run a close second. The only problem I have with U2 is that they have a fairly high rate of throaway tracks that they bury on the second half of many of their albums. So people get all intoxicated with The Joshua Tree because of the ginormous hits — which I totally get — but then the album falls apart after One Tree Hill. So, all I’m saying is that, beginning to end, Achtung really has the most solid, consistently good line up, even if there only one or two giant hits on the album.

  5. *love this post*

    I was so transported back in time to the “olden days” (as my young kids tell me) of fantastical 80s music. Unfortunately I was too busy being pissy with your husband for “selling out” (per my goth teenage angst rebellious stage) to attend that concert you mention even though all my friends did. Heh if I only knew.

    My husband is Sting although we might have a temporary separation right now while he continues to make

    • fordeville says:

      Glad you liked it — thanks for stopping by!
      I forgive you for being pissy with my husband. You’re not alone. And you’ve done well for yourself with Sting, I might add. Not bad at all.

  6. Susan from GA says:

    My other husband is Don Henley. I so understand you.

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