Let it go . . .

~ U2, “Bad”, 1984

I hadn’t thought about it for a few days, having become quite accomplished at setting aside the typical and familiar in exchange for the unexpected. I had new tunes in the car instead of the tried-and-true tracks.

The smoking tracks.

I had been so busy scanning the horizon, the land to the right and the left, that I almost missed it.

The exit. The off-ramp exactly one cigarette from my front door. As I let off the gas and gently tapped the brake pedal, I reached for my pack of smokes on the dashboard.

Of course, they weren’t there.

Funny how so many thoughts can flood the mind in a millisecond. I recalled how this exit is where I used to light up the last cigarette of my drive home from work. From town. From All Points North. I remembered that I’m forgetting to smoke. That I hadn’t looked at this road, this commute, this spot in the right-hand lane, the same way since I quit.

And yet, there it was. Another, lingering series of habitual thoughts and their accompanying movements. Ghosts, creeping down the staircase of my mind.

So instantly that I surprised myself – I took a breath. I think I had been holding it. I breathed air. Crisp, clean country air mixed with exhaust and dusty Indiana clay.

And I cried. You know, how your breath catches, and your eyes mist up? In a heartbeat?

And then another thought, foreign and dissonant: I am succeeding.


I have been away too long. Yet I have been living. Working. Writing elsewhere. Breathing deeply. Watching the numbers climb . . .


Twenty-six days. Nine hours. Eight minutes. Fifty seconds.

Unlike they do for poor Donnie Darko, my numbers are increasing, counting endlessly and gloriously up instead of hopelessly down toward the end of the world.


Amanda is on the mend and writing better than ever. Her latest post? Holy crap. Amanda has a way of taking very specific events and wringing from them notions with which everyone can relate. Bono does that here as well. Having looked hard at his beloved Dublin and its fascination with heroin, he then puts into words the deeper, and darker, ideas and feelings others may never take the time to fully flesh out.

Within “Bad,” writes Irish publisher Niall Stokes, is a restlessness that speaks volumes. You begin to imagine the narrator prowling his room in the darkest hour before dawn, wrestling with the temptation to take the plunge. There is a desire to go over the edge, to experience whatever the other side might throw at him. The feeling is so intense that he can’t express it clearly. His thoughts emerge in disconnected fragments. He repeats himself. If you wanted to get tough about it, you’d argue that “Bad” says nothing. But it’s a trip – a tense, nervy, intoxicating, exhilarating trip.

If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, you know, I would
If I could, I would
Let it go

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
I’d leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
Through the rain
Into the half-light
Through the flame

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I’d lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

So let it go
And so fade away
So let it go
And so fade away

I’m wide awake
I’m wide awake
I’m not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no
I’m not sleeping
Oh, no

If they should ask well maybe they’d
Tell me what I should say
True colors fly in blue and black
Bruised silken sky and burning flag
Colours crash, collide in bloodshot eyes

If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would
Let it go

This desperation
In temptation
Let it go, aha

And so fade away
So let it go, aha
And so fade, fade, fade away
So let it go
And so to fade away

I’m wide awake
I’m wide awake
Wide awake
I’m not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no

[Flickr photo is by respres and is protected]

14 thoughts on “Bad (Songs for Amanda #3)

  1. There are moments where the lyrics I’ve posted here don’t match the song. Interestingly, the words to this song have changed over the years, lending an even heavier air of restlessness to the song. It is a living song, ever evolving . . . so don’t freak out.

  2. You are so powerful. I am ashamed that my own circumstances have me less than 100% as supporter and encourager in this endeavor. However, the success you’ve shown already makes me wonder if the timing isn’t just right, that when I am back up on my feet (and I will be) then maybe I can give a boost that might be needed as the viciousness of this addiction and the cruel cycles of wanting come unexpectedly and with brute force.

    Congratulations on your success so far, I never doubted you could do this.

  3. I am ever so proud of you Brian. Like a parent in a sense, but more as a friend.

    Keep it up.

    That Quote from Neill Stokes was so very powerful.

    Thank you for allowing us to be with you on this quest, as hard as it may be.

  4. I too am grateful that you led me to Amanda- I emailed a link to that post to myself so that I wouldn’t forget about it.

  5. We, out in here in the world, collectively need success stories like yours in order to remind us to TRY AGAIN. Great job Brian, I am so proud of you!

  6. I’ve got a few roads like this myself, and you had me sitting here thinking about them. Funny how those familiar places in our lives momentarily bring us back to who we were at that point in time. This was a very poignant post.

  7. Amazing writing and self-awareness, as usual. Congrats on your success thus far with something that is incredibly difficult. My bet is on you.

    I love the U2 theme, it kind of softens the blow of my postponed concert tickets. If you’re taking requests, how about ‘Summer Rain’ or ‘Stuck in a Moment’? ; )

  8. Even six+ months later I still cringe when I hear Dave throw a bottle into the recycling, this split second of anxiety worrying he’ll see all the empties. That of course are no longer there, but that body memory is so strong.

    Good on you, friend. Good on you.

  9. OK – so before i leave yet another U2 related response please can i say that i love the writing on this piece – very thought provoking and it really pulled me in. Much enjoyment was had

    OK – so as a big U2 fan i have to say that The Unforgettable Fire is my least favourite album – it tries a bit too hard to be experimental and different to what came before and side two is a mess.

    Bad works best as a live song – especially on the Wide Awake In America EP and the version on Rattle & Hum (movie)

    And i agree – it is exhillerating live – like being thrown over the edge of a cliff and wondering if the parachute will ever open

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