This morning, I received a tweet from a Twitter acquaintance who overheard a conversation on a train in Dublin about my interview with Irish news talk DJ, Tom Dunne, concerning my book about U2. Since the interview was a month ago, I’m amazed that there still is a buzz floating around about the event. To me, Tom’s interview seems like it took place a lifetime ago. Since then, I have packed up my life and moved houses, refinished an antique table, helped my wife choose new lighting for our new space and lastly, getting caught up on life that was left in limbo months ago.
On the morning of my interview with Tom, I had to rise at 4:30 a.m. in order to make the 5:30 a.m. time slot. I was being interviewed over the phone from our house, therefore I could be in my pajamas but I had to be awake. More importantly, I wanted to listen to Tom’s show just to get his vibe, because when it came to my turn to be interviewed, I wanted to tie into the previous conversation. I opened jokingly tying into some Irish boy bands performance in front of some new water feature. I said that Lake Michigan is Chicago’s water feature. It broke the ice for us as we moved into a conversation about how I became a fan of U2. The toughest part of being interviewed live is that you don’t know what questions will be coming at you. I did spend a few days before prepping by reading the book’s press release and then reviewing the highlights, which I knew I had to cover. The most important thing was to be patient and not jump the gun with Tom. Pause and make the interview feel like a natural conversation. This is so not like me, as I can be, not only impatient, but also long-winded. I knew I couldn’t get off track from the questions. I needed to make myself come across, not only coherent, but as a seller of my story.
Tom made me feel comfortable and his professionalism was grand. Everyone I had talked to before the interview told me he was straight up and gracious with his guests. I returned the favor when he asked me about the Paradise Club in Chicago, which doesn’t exist. I didn’t correct him, but marched on with an answer that would satisfy his audience. As I said, I had to think quickly on my feet as it was 5:30 in the morning in Chicago and I was dragging due to packing up our house and readying my wife and I for a life changing moment. And that is where I made my biggest blunder, not selling the book’s web site. You hear it all the time in interviews “Go to my web site where you can get more information at www.blahblahblah.com.” Those conversations bore me because they take fifteen seconds out of the conversation to send me somewhere. More importantly, I would lose focus for the rest of the interview, as I would probably be looking for a pen trying to write down the URL where I could get more information. I didn’t want this to happen to Tom’s listeners. I wanted to make myself believable and inviting.
After listening to the interview, and revisiting the tweet from this morning, I feel as though I did just that, left an indelible mark on someone on a Dublin train in the past few days. Discussing one’s life with a stranger on the radio is tough, but making it inviting is even tougher as you have to peel off your skin and reveal what’s inside. Think of it as an invitation to one’s inner soul. I did just that with humility, but it was a hard road to get to in life. I guess the stars were aligned just so for this to happen. I am sure someone’s looking out for me, wanting me to succeed. Maybe it’s my Mom, who is once again pushing me out to be free as she is about to leave us in the not too distant future. I am not sure, but in any case, none of what has happened with the book has gone to my head, even when a stranger tells you the conversation is about the interview is ongoing.
Click here to take a listen to the interview.
I purchased a ticket to Dublin for a flight last Thursday, landing in the early hours of Friday morning. With a little luck from the web, I found a B&B and got some rest near the River Liffey. Hours later, I would emerge from my nap and head out into Dublin’s bustling streets, just to take in the Irish air and possibly a pint or two. Maybe, I would have a passing conversation with a local and discuss the rich heritage of the country or sink deeper into the bar near the hearth where I could keep myself warm from winter’s damp air. Either way, I would immerse myself into Joyce’s city.
The following morn’ would be Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. I would wake wearily, yet excited to be out of America to celebrate St. Nicks Day or Christmas in a foreign town. I would be bathed in excitement, wandering St. Stephen’s Green and taking a gander at the book of Kells. I would find myself the Irish version of Fish n’ Chips in order to fill the order of hunger of the day as I was still fighting jet lag.
Eventually, I would saunter back to my room and slip under the awaiting comforter for a quick afternoon shut-eye, knowing I would be up late to catch midnight mass at a local church as suggested by my innkeeper. My slumber was helpful as I dreamt of travels before to Dublin with my parents in the 70’s long before I was a U2 fan. My father was a scholar in James Joyce and this was a second home for him. When I awoke, I could feel his spirit in the room as the last rays of afternoon’s light broke through the tiny crack between the curtains. My laziness wanted me to stay in bed, but I felt a pre-dinner jaunt would do me good.
I slipped out the front door of the abode and into the evening. There was a slight wind and I clutched the top of my jacket closed while I walked down the unevenly paved sidewalk towards the city center. I was on my way to Grafton Street, a road of many a Joycean romp from my childhood, which was burned into me with pleasant memories. This night would be no different. My pace was brisk and as I approached the fable street, Dubliners were again taking to the streets. There was an air of excitement. One could sense that the something big was about to happen as I saw may burdened by bags swooshing against one another. I paused and took it all in as the light was now above me in a streetlight.
As I stood there, I noticed a crowd gathered across the street. There was singing and cheering. I looked to my left and saw no car approaching as I put my foot down on the cobblestoned street. A fellow Dubliner joined me in the automotive gap and we crossed the street in concert, pausing for a quickly passing taxi that whaled on his horn for our attention. Once upon the other side from where I crossed, the crowd had grown yet there was no pushing or shoving. It was festivity at its greatest as guitars were strummed and the unison signing of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home.) It was a happy Irish gathering and one in which one of Dublin’s own was in the center. It was Bono carrying on with those who would join. I was happy to be added to the group.
I awoke Friday morning after the dream and had a gut feeling that Bono would yet again hit Dublin’s street to busk. I was on my way to Iowa with my wife to see my parents and my grandmother, who is ninety-seven years young. The thought of a spontaneous flight to the Emerald Isle was a passing fancy as I was packing for a different trip, but I had a gut feeling that what has now become a ritual would happen again in Dublin. I leaned into my wife’s ear on Christmas Eve, at midnight mass, and said, “I think Bono was busking on Grafton Street in Dublin tonight.”