The Songs Of My Life: U2 – Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

I wouldn’t call myself a U2 fan. There are certain U2 songs that I like, but I never go out of my way to listen to them. Yet in the year 2001 – long before U2 would annoy millions of people by putting their new album on everyone’s iPhone – when I was at the tender age of 14, one of their songs came to mean a lot to me. That song was Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.  

Released on 29 January 2001, I was the second single from U2’s tenth studio album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. According to a Rolling Stone interview with Bono from November 2005, the song is about the suicide of his close friend Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS. It’s written in the form of an argument where Bono tries to convince Hutchence that suicide is foolish. 

It’s a row between mates. You’re kinda trying to wake them up out of an idea. In my case, it’s a row I didn’t have while he was alive. I feel the biggest respect I could pay to him was not to write some stupid soppy song, so I wrote a really tough, nasty little number, slapping him around the head. And I’m sorry, but that’s how it came out of me. 

Wenner, Jann S. (3 November 2005). “Bono: The Rolling Stone Interview”. Rolling Stone. No. 986. pp. 48–67, 102–103.

As a 14-year-old, I was unaware of what the song was actually about. The original reason I fell in love with it was due to the music video released for the song. Three versions exist, and the version that I fell in love with was the original version (also known as the US version). It features an American football game where a placekicker keeps reliving a field goal he missed that would cost his team the game. The video ends with the linebacker, now a postman, as an old man. He kicks the ball and scores. 

This video captivated me and my brother. It used to play on either TMF or The Hits music channels quite a lot, and always around the same time of day. This happened to be not long after we finished school. When we got off the bus, we’d run towards our home to turn the TV on and catch it before we missed it. We’d then sit there with grins on our faces while we watched it.  

I’m not sure why we loved the video so much. Watching it back today, it’s well shot and the story it tells is relatable to us all. No, I don’t mean that we all go through missing a kick at school. But we do all go through something that went wrong that we keep playing over and over in our heads.  

The more I watched the music video and listened to the song, the more I came to connect with the lyrics. As a teenager, I suffered from social anxiety. I would repeat conversations I’d had with other people over and over in my head. I’d wish I’d said something different or been a bit more approachable. Like a lot of teenagers, I obsessed over how people perceived me, and I wanted people to like me. But my social anxiety prevented me from being the real person I wanted to be. It also meant that I could come across as unapproachable and disinterested in involving myself in social activities with others. I tried to avoid social situations because I got anxious thinking about them.

There were so many moments during my teenage years when I’d get stuck replaying the same situations over and over in my head, wishing I’d done something different. Wishing I’d talked to that girl, or wishing that I hadn’t gotten so pissed off at someone and ended up having an argument over nothing. I always seemed to be ‘stuck in a moment’ rather than forgetting about it and moving on with my life. The lyric ‘don’t say that later will be better’ was always me saying I’ll come out of my shell when I’m ready, rather than going and doing something about it right now. 

These days, I’m far better at dealing with and moving on a lot quicker than I used to. That social anxiety is still around, but it’s not half as bad as it used to be.  

This song reminds me of darker times in my life, but it’s a positive thing as I know I ended up getting through it all to achieve the great life I have today. It also reminds me of having a connection with my brother and bonding over something we both enjoyed. That’s why I love music. It reminds you of periods in your life and the connections you shared with others. 

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