Today, I am wearing a bit of my hero around my wrist.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that in addition to my own musings about one David Howell Evans, I also enjoy retweeting some of the other gems I come across, like this:
Jokes aside, I obviously endeavour to retweet the important things as well, so in one of my searches near the end of April, I came across a tweet from the “Filament Project” – they were auctioning off bracelets made from guitar strings to benefit the Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund. I had heard of Sweet Relief in the past, as a lot of high-profile musicians support their cause; they offer financial assistance to musicians who have been affected by personal hardship. Their philosophy is to give something back to the people who have given us beautiful music… rather like Edge’s Music Rising.
Intrigued, I took a closer look, as they appeared to be… gasp… including some of Edge’s strings used on “With Or Without You” from that fateful last show of the 360 tour… Moncton. Had I been able to make that one, WOWY would have definitely been the point at which I would have teared up and realized that the tour was really over. A week earlier I was quite thankful that it was raining so hard in Minneapolis, because I was blinking back the tears during that very song, my eyes on Edge and my mind returning to a TV screen 25 years ago – the quiet genius in the hat and suspenders, playing that hauntingly beautiful guitar.Â Since I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with that Moncton concert, might I have found what I was looking for?
I tore over to eBay and there it was – a listing for a bracelet made of one of Edge’s strings from that very song at that very show, authenticated on a packet of Bright Round Wound XL D’Addarios by my 5th favourite member of U2, Mr. Dallas Schoo.
“Used by The Edge on “With Or Without You” Live on 360 Tour – Last Show Of Tour, Moncton, Canada,” he wrote on the packet.
Moncton. July 30, 2011. The day we all shed a tear and said goodbye to 360. The only show in Canada that I didn’t get to. This was my chance to own a piece of it – and come to peace with it – at last.
I think I may have thought about buying it for a whole 90 seconds. Quickly, I listed the pros in my head. It was used to play what is arguably the song that sent them into super-stardom, a song which was unarguably the one that made me a mega-fan. Not only that, it was from the last show of the biggest U2 tour in history – one which I’d been to 16 shows on, so this was very personal to me. And, it was all in the name of a great charity.
The only con I could thing of was that… I’d have to pay for it. I’m surprised I took 90 seconds!
I knew that the string would be gently used, but that was its biggest charm to an Edge fan like myself. The Edge is notorious in his perfection; I know that Dallas puts new strings on all of his numerous guitars before every show – in his words, “He’ll even ask me while he’s soundchecking – ‘Dallas, are these strings new?’ He can tell.”
“He can tell.” I love it. That’s my hero, and I just had to own one of these strings. No diamonds, no rings of gold – I could be wearing a piece of The Edge’s music around my wrist. It wasn’t a quick autograph signed in the middle of a crush of fans – it was a little piece of something he used to create those beautiful soundscapes – the very reason I admire him so much.
This wasn’t just going to be a bracelet. It was going to be a prized possession.
I bought it immediately, and then, I told my husband. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who understands these sorts of things, and he just shook his head.
We are both gigantic music fans, our mutual favourites include Oasis, The Stone Roses and of course, U2. While I tend to gravitate toward the sound of the guitar (Noel Gallagher & John Squire being my other two musical idols), my husband is drawn toward a talented singer and lyricist. Naturally, he LOVES that other guy.
So then, I told him. “You know, I’m not sure when, but it sounds like she’s going to be posting some Bono ones too…”
He stopped dead in his tracks. “There are Bono ones? From where?”
“Not sure yet. But you know those strings will be barely used. And used badly,” I laughed. I love you, B-man, but I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make a joke about his lack of guitar prowess. It’s what us Edge fans do.
This had really piqued my husband’s interest. He became a U2 fan a bit later than I did, around the time of Achtung Baby. Where Joshua Tree was “my” album, Achtung Baby was his. With all of the songs played on 360 from that album, I wondered if he would be lucky enough to get a string from “The Fly”, off that shiny new green Fender Telecaster Bono had custom-made to try to upstage The Edge. The return of the Fly, indeed.
We had earlier planned to walk down to our local bar for dinner and a drink, so I floated out of the house to down a pint of Guinness to celebrate my purchase. iPhone in hand, I had one eye on Twitter and the other eye on the menu. Suddenly, there it was. A bracelet from an acoustic Gibson, that our dear Bono had used in From The Sky Down.
I quickly showed Dave the eBay listing. (Yes, my husband’s name is Dave. No, that is not why.)
“It’s from The Fly! The Elvis-fly!” I laughed out loud at the visual of Bono kicking over that chair at Hansa Studios, playing that simple blues progression instead of the real song, and singing like Elvis. It was the part of the documentary which sent my Bonogirls into orbit and made my husband smile and roll his eyes at one of his heroes. Perfect. And, we have video evidence in Blu-Ray, no less.
He took slightly longer than me to decide, pulling up the listing and humming and hawing a bit before committing to buying it.
“Are you crazy? You NEED this!” I urged him. And just because he couldn’t do it himself, I reached over and pressed the buy button for him.
“Done. Bono and Edge, together again.”
After dinner I returned home and was scanning Twitter when I found this request from the Jo who runs the Filament Project in one of her earlier tweets:
#FilamentProject is always looking for lengths of electrical, telephone & ethernet cable to strip for wire. Need a source of PURPLE wire!
It just so happens that when I’m not being EdgeFest, my day job is a switching technician at SaskTel, our provincial phone company. There’s only one source of purple cable in telecom (violet, as we know it) – and that is in 25 pair colour coded cable. Something which we have in abundance as scrap right now as we are currently redoing a lot of our network as fiber to the premise. We usually send it for recycling, but this would just be another form.
The next day I called one of the Operations managers who was more than happy to help – and I proudly told Jo that I had exactly what she was looking for. Not only that, the manager was going to have a few of the telephone guys in the warehouse strip the cable for us, extracting just the violet wire.
Jo was very happy, and I was overjoyed. Another example of U2 bringing people together for the right reasons. I’m so happy to give a little something back to someone who had the idea to give fans such a unique treasure, handmade with love – and I hope that by buying these bracelets and spreading the word to other U2 fans, I’ve done something to help Robin Sylvester with much needed funds as he awaits a kidney transplant.
A few days later our Bono & Edge treasures arrived, safe and sound from California. I can’t play the guitar myself but I know enough to be dangerous – I own one of Edge’s Music Rising limited edition Les Pauls, along with an original blue Noel Gallagher Epiphone Supernova.
I immediately compared the gauge of our strings to my Les Paul, and estimated that the bracelets were made from either Edge’s B or G string, and Bono’s low E or A string. I later learned that D’Addario colour codes their strings – and as fate would have it, I had the violet one. The B string.
So happy with my own purchase, I must not forget to mention that I know most of the people who were lucky enough to buy the other strings from these songs. Right after I retweeted my pride of winning my bracelet, my other Twitter followers began to take notice. I wasn’t aware at the time that more strings would be listed, but I was overjoyed to see that another follower of mine, @bethandbono who I had the pleasure of meeting last summer got another one of Bono’s strings. She wrote a fabulous blog entry about it on her always entertaining Beth & Bono blog which you can read here. As for the Edge strings, one went to another follower of mine from Minnesota who I also was thrilled to meet (@U2Nurse named Beth too) and another to my follower Diana, @trojanchick99 from California… they are both big Edge fans, and I’m very excited to know that some day, in a GA line somewhere in North America, we may find ourselves holding out our arms and restringing that guitar.
After examining my bracelet with wonder, finding it hard to believe that The Edge had it on his guitar, I smiled at the thought and put it on. It fit perfectly. Although no one will know the history behind it at first glance, I like it that way. A personal, special reminder of my hero and his music.
I found what I was looking for.