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Thanksgiving – Has Beens

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

In 2014 Apple’s iTunes downloaded to all users a free copy of the new U2 album Songs of Innocence. The world collectively scratched its head, shrugged or got angry. Many of the younger generation, for whom iTunes is their natural stomping ground, didn’t know who the band was. The lead singer Bono eventually apologised for his part in making it a compulsory free download. For a bunch of 50-something Irish rock-n-rollers it was most likely a first ‘Rooster, meet feather duster’ moment.


The western world doesn’t know how to deal with the ageing process. It’s as though we greedily wish for all the medical advancements that prolong life but then do nothing in the way of preparation for the elderly once they start sticking around longer. The saying “respect your elders” seems to have dropped from the lexicon altogether, which is a great contrast to Asia where those who have lived a long time are not so invisible and seem to be far more cherished for their wisdom and age.

The Pope himself recently felt compelled to say the ignoring or abuse of the elderly was a sin. Now based in Europe full time, where birth-rates are well below replacement levels, his message was a like a country fire service volunteer sounding alarm about a new blaze breaking out a few ridges over the horizon.

When coupled with the short attention spans now prevalent in modern life and a very disposable culture, the likelihood of seeing many bands with the 20-plus year longevity of a U2 are diminishing daily. (Strange to think that one of the group’s first hits, Gloria, was actually a religious song) This is not to begrudge modern fans their tastes or the right to seek out new sounds. It is simply an observation an awful lot of babies get thrown out with the bathwater.

A generation beforehand the Bee Gees, in a paler imitation of Jesus, went through the dizzy heights of fame (Jesus being feted on Palm Sunday; the Bee Gees chart-topping success in the 1960s and 70s); being reviled (Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday; the Bee Gees records being burnt at the end of the disco era) and then finally enjoying a rebirth (Jesus’ resurrection; the Bee Gees fame being re-ignited by aging baby-boomers and those curious to see what disco fashion was all about).

Bee Gees

Most likely it will be a similar path for U2, who for a period in the 1980s and 90s had the Midas touch. Their rebirth phase still awaits but it can be reliably counted on once the nostalgia bug of their former audience kicks in. Then, as now, all generations will come to see that “has beens” once were “it”, and usually for good reason.

To all the has-beens that popular culture has chewed up and spat out, and then retrieved from the dustbin of history, we say thank you.

Previous thanksgiving article: Émigrés

The season of Lent asks of us for sacrifice and the foregoing of many things, but an attitude of joy and gratitude should not be amongst them.

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

At the outset it should be made clear the viewpoints expressed here are a matter of individual opinion. If any one item doesn’t coincide with your own personal tastes then why not seek to better it with some thanksgiving of your own rather than a critique? You are always welcome to do so at the Archdiocesan website feedback mechanism.

So we invite you to come, walk with us awhile, and be thankful as we journey together to Calvary and beyond to Easter.

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