My friend told me that some radio station had recently taken a poll, where people were asked the same question he'd just asked me. He recalled that the song the fans picked was a number.
"Hawkmoon 269" I yelled. This was a song that was recorded on the road and then mixed at A&M Studios (where I worked) exactly 269 times in order to get the right combination. "Great song," I thought, "That could be my favorite too."
"That wasn't it," he said.
After searching around on the web for a few minutes we found the song the fans had apparently voted they would keep if they had to take away all others. It was called "40". "I will siiiiing, sing a new song..." the chorus declares. Yes, I do like that song. It wouldn't have been my choice as the favorite but I could see especially U2's more Christian-based fans loving it. Hum... I thought, dreamily.
Then I woke up! How could I have forgotten!
I'd always known I wanted to go into Post Production. when I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be a film composer. Then I decided I would rather record film soundtracks instead of write them. That's why I ended up at Berklee College of Music, where I got a degree in Music Production and Engineering.
And that's why when after about 6 months at A&M Studios over-dubbing their "live" tracks, recording fix-its, etc. the band started spending time at Todd A-O post production facility, I started hanging out there too. Watch the credits of every other movie you see - and you'll see the name Todd A-O. At first I think I had to take things there for the band - tapes, sandwiches, etc. But then I made friends with the engineers, some of the sweetest guys in the world. There was a guy named Bill Bernstein arguably the nicest guy in the world, and the head engineer was a man named Chris Jenkins, arguably the nicest guy in the world.
Todd A-O was dark and comfortable with a little leather couch for viewing the large movie screen that fanned out about 30 feet away, and most importantly there was no Jimmy Iovine (more on him later.) There was a slight annoyance there in the form of the director. A spoiled, young Hollywood up-and -comer named Phil Joanou. He was engaged to Molly Ringwald at the time, and everyone would have to sit there and listen to their soupy goodbyes for ten minutes. "I love you...Oh, no,no I love you more..."Ugh. But that was a small price to pay.
One night, the team was re-mixing the song "Bad", which yes, happens to be my favorite U2 song. I especially love the concert version from "U2 Wide Awake in America". Listening to that song is transcendent for me - and about 40 million other people to be sure.
Anyway, the re-mix engineers were working on the live version from the most recent tour, and for some reason or other this version just didn't have..."it". Whatever "it" was Bono was looking for. And I quite agreed actually as I sat silently tucked into my purposefully-unobtrusive spot on the couch. "Something's missing." I thought. I longed for my favorite version.
"Can we listen to the other one?" Bono asked.
Did he just say what I think he said?
"The one from Wide Awake. It has something...that we're not capturing here."
This isn't happening!
Someone assured him that we could listen to that version and within moments I was sitting there with my favorite band, listening to my favorite version of my favorite song.
I can still see Bono silhouetted against the screen, listening intently, pacing somewhat as he listened. Trying to figure out what "it" was.
I was sure no one could see me getting misty eyed there in the darkness. In the darkness I could without risking my prized professionalism be somewhat emotional about what was truly an extraordinary moment for me.
You see, throughout my seventeen plus years in the entertainment industry I had to suppress my true feelings about any particular situation, moment, person. No matter how in awe, how disappointed, how flattered or how insulted I ever was, I had to maintain the same sense of calm professionalism. Not unlike a doctor. Detach. I've had to be completely "unimpressed"...only to run off and call one of my girl friends to re-live the whole event.
U2 never knew I was a huge fan of theirs before ever working with them. There was no reason to tell them. It was beside any point.
But now I have these memories to share. I will not let them go, and so fade away. I'm wide awake.