Why U2 Matters, Part II

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To the brood: My apologies for the delay in submitting the second part of this four-part series. I had initially intended to publish these entries on a weekly basis, but alas proverbial roadblocks associated with my day job as a journalist have proven significant.

Consider that arguing U2’s relevance in a largely irrelevant music industry, where cookie-cutter hits continue their two-decade assault on mainstream pop, requires more than a quick offering halfheartedly written because high school football and public corruption (I cover the South Texas area…enough said) were still on the mind.

This is an important time in the band’s history. It’s U2 against the world…of idiots. And the vocal majority is as loud as its ever been. As addressed in my initial piece, Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam have been subjected to ridicule and criticism for what could arguably be chalked up to the price of innovation. Love it or hate it, releasing an album – the instant-classic Songs of Innocence – that automatically downloads into 500 million iTunes users’ iCloud accounts was a trailblazing move.

What the haters can never understand is that U2’s propensity to take risks, which nobody else in the same position would dare take, is also what happens to make the band great. This is an alien concept to the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and the Black Keys, who rarely venture beyond their musical comfort zones. Though attributed to many people, I believe it was Elbert Hubbard who was credited with saying, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Diehard fans understand that this is the essence of U2’s tendency to throw caution to the wind all in the name of transcending genres and modern technology. This is the band that debuted a tour boasting the largest television screen ever built when just several years earlier they strutted on stage with little more than their gear and the house lights. The end result was always the same though: pure awesomeness. This is also the band that embraced punk and new wave in the earlier incarnation of the group before maturing into a proper rock outfit, and also before exploring American rhythm and blues; alternative; EDM; techno; soul; etc. But hey…the end result was always the same: pure awesomeness.

And this brings me to what not only makes Songs of Innocence a fantastic entry in the band’s legendary catalog, but why U2 still matters.

I was a teenager in the mid 1990s when I first decided to listen to U2. Not unlike the 2000 film “Almost Famous,” in which a pre-adolescent boy finds his sister’s record collection upon her moving away from home, I had also inherited my brother’s collection of vinyl records and audio cassette tapes in much the same way. Though treasures such as Led Zeppelin’s III and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were all at my beckoning, it was The Joshua Tree that called out to me.

I previously hadn’t heard much of U2, except for the time when my brother and I watched Zoo TV: Live from Sydney on pay-per-view. With memories of “Pride” still fresh in my mind, coupled with the minimalist album artwork featuring a black and white snapshot of the four bandmates casually standing around in a desert, I gave The Joshua Tree a whirl.

As an opening track, “Where the Streets Have No Name” sounded odd for a young man who grew up on a heavy dose of hair metal and grunge. Accustomed to singers’ exaggerated screams and howls, guitarists’ obligatory solos and the forgettable contributions of muted rhythm sections, I was shocked upon my first true exposure to U2.

A church organ crescendo, time signature changes and melodic guitar riffs that sounded more like the chiming of bells than rip-roaring shreds…wait, what is this? The bass and percussion work resembled a speeding locomotive more than an actual beat and the vocals pleaded instead of shrilled. Then there were the lyrics…oh the lyrics.

After hearing the gospel songs that followed and the preachy message in 10 of its 11 tunes, I came to the conclusion that I hated it.

Still, this was my brother’s music, and I held his taste in the highest regard. So, confused but positive that I was missing something, I played it again and again until I couldn’t stop playing it (ala Mr. Holland’s Opus).

C’mon, trainspotters…you know what I’m talking about…John Coltrane anybody?

Well, I digress.

What I discovered was that it was necessary to mature as a listener before I could ever be moved by U2’s music, and by extension…U2’s spirit. Because that’s what the band represents – an entity from which faith is necessary to believe in something; and it also happens to be why a growingly-secular world can no longer understand or support four men that openly worship and praise God.

Remember this, friends, before pitying Bono for humbling himself to some ingrate: U2’s meant to incur the wrath of a world that hates.

Recently, readers have been gracious enough to compliment my writing style. After blushing disagreeably, I remind them that my goal is to be as eclectic a storyteller as U2 are as musicians.

I want to be a writer whose body of work also inspires people. This is why I do what I do, and I’ve since won first and second place awards in news writing in the Texas Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. My work with the San Benito News, which is based in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, has been followed by the likes of The Huffington Post and caught the eye of gubernatorial candidates as well as state and federal elected officials.

I’m not saying that I necessarily owe my career to U2, especially since I put my faith and family above all, but it is simply an example of why the band still matters in this writer’s heart.


Note: Michael Rodriguez is a journalist who hails from a border community in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where he serves as the managing editor of the semi-weekly newspaper, the San Benito News. Part 3 of his series, “Why U2 Matters,” will include his review of the vinyl and deluxe editions of Songs of Innocence.

U2 Community Forum Now Open

We have been working for the past couple of months to build a new interactive U2 community within the U2TOURFANS social experience. 

Our team with the help of a few hundred great fans have created an online community that will allow you to share music, videos, stories, thoughts and well pretty much anything related to U2.

Yes you have a few other choices to share your thoughts on-line. What this new community will offer you is the chance to be apart of something fresh creative and most of all yours !

Yes that means you are free to comment, create or even share anything you like (remember its all U2)

This is your community and we welcome your feedback.  Its time to be  part of the U2TOURFANS community. The doors are open and we invite you in. Remember its brand new you make this community grow with your interactive comments. 

 

Enjoy

Dre

Will U2 Music Arrive on Tuesday ?

U2 has been working on “Lucky 13” since 2011 and the all the hype of last week U2 fans are not so ready to put the band in a category of yesterday and move them into irrelevant.

Bono is not so ready to go off into that good night with just being the greatest band of all time.

U2 is more than you know! As you listen to the singles released, you get a sense that the band has been working on a new anthem that will drive a new generation of U2 fans into the future. 

The new project is loaded with new selection of producers. Such as Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Adele’s collaborator Paul Epworth, but also will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas and dance-music specialists like RedOne and David Guetta (whose own single “Lovers on the Sun” has more than a hint of U2 in it).


U2 has revitalized itself before with electronic dance music; that’s what it did in 1991 with “Achtung Baby.” But until the full album emerges from its long gestation, it’s anyone’s guess how U2 hears itself in the 2010s.

It’s been a long road. In November 2013, the band released its first new song in four years, "Ordinary Love", recorded for the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The second song released after the break, "Invisible", is reportedly the first track that the band has finished recording for the upcoming studio album, which scheduled for release mid-year.

On 2 February 2014, a part of "Invisible" was unveiled in a form of a Super Bowl XLVIII commercial, and made available as a free download for 24 hours, with Bank of America giving $1 for each download of the track to (RED. According to the band's website, the period of time in which the song was available for free was eventually extended to 36 hours, and the total sum raised was $3,138,470.


The music of U2 has appealed to both Christian and secular audiences alike for well over two decades. Not only are the sounds and melodies intriguing but also the lyrics exemplify powerful emotions, which captivate audiences by identifying with inner emotions and struggles.

Challenging times for the boys as they try to complete their 13th album and find away to reach out and touch that magic that is U2. 

Faith, always been centered on ideas that man has failures and if he is willing to rise above, he too can experience greater joys in life.  It is a simpler process to create music and remove the concepts of faith it’s harder to instill them and kind a balance.
 
Its Sunday morning as I listen to some U2 music mix I begin to think about what Tuesday will bring for us as well think about how U2 has sifted through various images of religion, what does that mean to you and me?  I’m inspired so often by music and the directions that one band can take over the years seems to provide the growth that we all need. So as we await the future of U2, I ask you What does U2 music mean to you?” Inspired by U2 or is it inspired by Bono?

 

Confirmed or Not Confirmed ! 2014

Many sites have reported news of U2's album release dates and possible push backs and delays and Bono's writers block and blah blah blah. 

Previously reported Rolling Stones story suggested that the band pretty much would not make the date and almost over a month pasted and now RS reports a new album is in fact on the way this year. 

Now sources have told The Sun that “The U2 comeback is very much on for this year. This album has been a real struggle for them to make. It’s taken a long time and Bono didn’t find it easy.

But they’re very confident now and are convinced the wait has been worth it.” Also we have heard Bono playing music from his lovely home which he has done in the past.

However wait more news that this could be the year for the release the boys have been working on a video shoot and we also well as others have reported the news of some video production work.

What can say to you is that while all of us that follow the boys know that U2's machine is strong and alive and well. The marketing power around U2 has done some pretty amazing work. Yes some fans will say its not official until its on U2.com.

However sometimes we catch a worm from time to time ( yea like the reference ) and we ( U2 blog sites) release the news ahead of the official page.  Now of course that's that not saying anything negative about the official sites or fan pages. The U2 fan pages have sources that are willing to share their information outside of the marketing machine rules. Allow us a few minutes in the sun.  

The fact is that many news agencies report the possible release date of the next U2 project and at this point all of us are running on speculation and of course our sources which all could be wrong or right depending on the source and the information that is released to the public.

Our goal is not to create any more hype or cause anyone to post nasty messages on forums where the release date will be posted.  Lets look at the facts and from that information we can wait just like the rest of the world. U2 will release new music and all is right with the world meantime go back and listen to some classics and enjoy.

We are band from the Northside of Dublin

Just 35 years ago “Three” was produced as a limited run of 1,000 number copies.

It of course has been reissued a number of times since, about six more times.

However, it remains the most rarest U2 release ever and was later released on a CD in 2008 as part of the bonus disco with the reissue of Boy.

The track order determined by a listener poll on Fanning’s radio show; Callers chose "Out of Control" to be the A-side of the record, with "Boy/Girl" and "Stories for Boys" as runners-up, constituting the B-side of the record.

Shortly after the boys released the singles "Another Day", "11 O'Clock Tick Tock", and "A Day Without Me" before releasing Boy, in 1980.

U2 performed all songs from Three live regularly in the band's formative years. The earliest known performances of "Out of Control" and "Stories for Boys" took place in August 1979. "Out of Control" was written on lead singer Bono's eighteenth birthday."Boy/Girl" may have also been played at this stage: a song named "In Your Hand" may have been related in some way to "Boy/Girl" but no recordings of it exist.

The first confirmed performance of "Boy/Girl" took place in October 1979. All three songs were regularly performed on the Boy Tour in 1980–1981, although "Boy/Girl" appeared less than the others.

"Stories for Boys," which premiered at an unknown date in August 1979, was used as a concert opener a few times before being moved to late in the main setlist, nearer to "Out of Control", which was typically the last song of the main set. In mid-March 1981, the Three songs were united to close the main set.

"Stories for Boys" was first, followed by "Boy/Girl", which segued into "Out of Control". This trilogy lasted until the end of the tour.

"Boy/Girl" and "Stories for Boys" did not remain in the band's live repertoire long after the end of the Boy Tour. "Boy/Girl" was played three times afterwards, while "Stories For Boys" was initially frequently performed on the October Tour before it was removed from the setlist in late March 1982.

"Out of Control", however, remained in the band's live show for longer, rotating with "Gloria" as the concert opener on the War Tour and the first leg of the Unforgettable Fire Tour.

It then appeared twice late in the Unforgettable Fire Tour before returning sporadically to the setlist on the third leg of the Joshua Tree Tour and three performances on the Lovetown Tour. "Out Of Control" then had an absence from live shows of over eleven years.

U2: 18 Videos
Starring U2

It was played again on 15 May 2001 on the Elevation Tour. After initial infrequent performances proved popular with fans, it became more regular in the setlist as the tour progressed. It was retained on the Vertigo Tour for special occasions; it was played a total of nine times, including instances in Toronto and Los Angeles where U2 performed it with local bands. "Out of Control" made its U2 360° Tour debut in São Paulo.It made 5 other U2 360° appearances.

The song was also the closer to the Glastonbury 2011 set. The Vertigo Tour also saw part of "Stories for Boys" return to the setlist - Bono acknowledged its lyrical relationship with "Vertigo" by snippeting some lyrics from "Stories for Boys" at the end of "Vertigo".

This snippet was a regular feature of shows on the Vertigo Tour's first leg but was done only sporadically on the second leg and never on subsequent legs.

What’s up next for the boys 35 years later? Lucky 13 is on the way and the boys are wrapping up some promotional videos and pretty much putting on the finishing touches to get ready for another massive year ahead.

Why Another U2 Album?

Lots of emotions are flowing around the future of U2. We all feel the same way. 

I thought about my personal views on the idea and while I was never really one to share my thoughts on the future of U2 and wondered why not.

Why not share what I thought about the whole matter. 

However before we venture down that path here's the comments that have been flying around about the band and their future.

A source commented that: “They never wanted to be the kind of band who just toured over and over again without new material.

“Bono would rather pack it in if it got to that stage.

“At the earliest they will hit the road at the end of this year and after that it’s hard to see how they could carry on.

“Bono is always getting offers to go solo and write his own album. That’s looking like a very likely option in the coming years.”

Earlier this year Bono admitted the band were living in fear of becoming irrelevant.

He said: “We were trying to figure out why would anyone want another U2 album?

“And then we said ‘Why would we want one?’ There was some unfinished business.

“We felt like we were on the verge of irrelevance a lot in our lives.”

The idea of irrelevance really bugs the crap out of me. I think that I have a voice and that sometimes U2 music speaks well for me. I think that the future does belong to be as much as it belongs to that snot nosed little pisser of a kid that comes up behind me.

The music is more about beliefs in something greater than me. A higher place, a freedom from what holds me back. Yet I know that in order to grow I must let go of yesterday and look towards the future.

U2 has give us a great collection of music that can stand the test of time. The themes still hold true today. While some say that God has no place in music others delight in the idea that that you can be a bad boy or girl and be saved daily by grace.

Sure I would love for U2 to grow older with me and carry me into those remaining years.  U2 does not owe me the fan anything, the music was made for me to enjoy.

The shows  allowed me to breathe life into a community of friends. I am not mad nor upset if this really is the end. I know others will not agree. However that's what makes the whole idea of being a U2 fan beautiful.

And love, it's not the easy thing
The only baggage, that you can bring
Not the easy thing, the only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind

Maybe hidden in those words was the message that you can't leave U2 behind that that U2 will forever be within your hearts and isn't that the place you would want them to be most often.

So ask yourself why do you want another U2 album ?

6 or 7 Ready, No Title and U2 Heads Home

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After show comments with Rolling Stone’s David Fricke gives us a chance to peek into the dressing room of U2 for an interview with the boys, The Edge followed up his comments that they album has been delayed due working on Ordinary Love.  

Edge stated, "We really want the songs to be right. That's the only reason why we're not on tour – because we're so good at starting, not so good at finishing. That's always the way it's been."

We noticed the comments about having 30 or so songs in various states and really, that seems to be able right for the boys. They seem to start very strong and work to scale down to the finished product.

The process takes time. Its not as easy as one word think. Edge did give way to the fact that they do have six or seven mixed and ready to go. We should expect something like 9 or 12 songs total in this new digital world.  Edge also provided some insights to the creative process.

When asked about the title of the next project simply stated "Not yet. We have a few."

The band left New York headed back to Dublin to keep working on finishing the album.

Bono Arrives in Iceland

Sources report that Bono spend New Years in Iceland. Bono with family and friends landed in Reykjavik for the 4th time today from Dublin.

Plans are to stay over night and ring in the New Year.  Bono arrived, waived to on lookers and offered to chance for a interview.  Alison and the kids as well as Damien Rice plan to stay at a hotel in the capital as well as visit the the surrounding areas. 

Bono and the boys have been working most of the holiday on finishing up the new project and suggestions lead most to believe the project should arrive around April 2014.

U2TOURFANS Back from Vacation

Greetings this has been a summer of getting our heads on straight. Our publisher got married and some of us kicked around the world traveling and just chilling out. Back in New York now and starting to really focus on 2014 and our plans for going forward. In our meetings we have come to find out we have our challenges to keep the doors open. We have reached a high over the summer of over 50 million visitors per day. That does not include the over all fan base that visits the community. We have lots of work in the coming months as to how we want to manage our community. Know this our publisher stated we are a free site and we will remain a free site. We  will look to you for donations to keep us going.  We know that with a new project we will be kicking our reporting in high gear and we will have our tour team hit the street if and when a tour kicks off. We will be ready to give you the best we can give you.  Thank you for all your support. We wish you a happy U2tober.   If you would like to make a donation let us know we will send you the link or you can find it on our site.

U2 Expected Spring 2014

Spring 2014 almost 5 years later since U2 has released an album. The rumors are flying around that suggest Spring 2014 for some new music from the boys. Everything we heard from our sources suggests we are on track for Spring 2014.

In case, you missed it. Bono was on Dave Letterman and suggested that the final touch up is under way. The artwork, some videos and the marketing machine team will start kicking it to full gear early 2014.

Lets be real we all know U2 likes to have everything in place and really fine tuned prior to any release. This we know for fact. We can expect to see the boys appear on the road supporting the new project because of changes in the music business bands really need to hit the road to earn any money.

Yes, even U2 with their 360 agreements with Live Nation will be required to hit the road. We think that the rumor around smaller closer intimate venues might be way for them to go. Getting closer to the fans, playing multi dates in some of the larger cities to support a kind of a fair well tour. (Yea we said it).

The boys really want to make a big splash and yet they still fight the noise of “are we relevant?” the boys want to go out on top as the “Worlds Greatest Rock Bands” Its all part of a greater plan.

So for now know that the music is on the tape and ready to be burned to CD’s or downloads and all that’s left is for the label to pick a release date that brings the biggest amount of attention.

U2Tourfans Annual Drive

U2 fans around the world its that time of year again. Our site is supported by many dedicated fans around the world. We know that you have choices for fan sites and we work hard to provide you the best U2 experience around. We don't charge for any of our content nor to we sell your information to anyone.

We are strictly dedicated to you the fan and of course the boys. Our primary goal has always been to provide a complete U2 experience with audio, video and images from around the world.  Twice a year we come to you and ask you to consider making a donation to our project.  In order for us to keep the lights on and the servers running we need to ask you to consider a donation. We have tried many different fund raising ideas and found that the best one is just asking you directly for a donation.   

Your donation makes it possible for us to provide you with the complete U2 experience. We are not funded by the band, record label or management. Our dedicated focus has helped us become one of the major U2 fan sites around the world.  Today we have over 1 million visitors a day with over 10 Million interactive engagements ( that means you download videos and photos).  I never thought this site could grow to this level and I must say we have done some impressive work. Now wold you consider a donation to keep us going. Any amount would be greatly welcomed.  Again I thank you for all your support and look forward to our team continuing down this path we have started.  

Peace,  

Dre  

Editor-In-Chief  

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Dear U2TOURFANS readers:

We are the small non-profit website social media outlet for U2 fans around  the world. We have very small staff but serve  million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help.

To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations averaging about $30. If everyone reading this gave $5, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. If U2TOURFANS is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating with credit card or PayPal. Please help us

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Frank Barsalona, Remembered

Paul said: "Trying to get U2 signed to Premier Talent was the reason for my trip when I flew to New York for the very first time in 1980. I was a baby manager but I knew that Premier were the agency that had driven the British Invasion for the Who, Zeppelin and all the great bands. U2 were recording their first album, "Boy," in Dublin, with Steve Lillywhite producing, for Island Records. When I arrived in New York, I phoned Frank Barsalona's office for an appointment. They took my number, maybe they would have called back.  The next day my father died suddenly back in Dublin. I phoned Premier to say I wouldn't be able to see Frank that week because I would be at the funeral  but I would be back soon. He had to see me when I returned, I was the guy in Ireland whose father had died ...

"When I met Frank a week or two later he listened to the U2 tape, looked at a video clip I had made,  and (with some encouragement from Chris Blackwell, who had once bailed out his agency) agreed to represent the band. It was the most important alliance we had made up to then.

"Through the 1980s in North America, Barbara Skydel and Frank guided U2 to becoming one the great live act they are now. Over many late nights sitting in his office as he told me his stories, after everyone had gone home, he gave me my education in the business. Sometimes we went to watch a Yankees game, but mostly we sat and he talked, often till midnight.

"He taught U2 and myself something that has stood us in good stead ever since -- that an artist has two parallel careers: one on record and one live. The fact that record success came later for U2 was compensated for by their much quicker rise to fame as one of the great live attractions.

"He and his network of regional promoters gave us so much of their skill and wisdom. In 1991/1992 we did the ambitious, expensive, and deservedly legendary, ZooTV tour. We kept the ticket price low and only broke even.

"In 1997 when costs were even higher, we were planning the PopMart tour and we changed the business model, and decided to invite bids from interested parties who would underwrite the whole world tour, and shoulder the financial risk that the band had hitherto taken. This meant working without an agent and I had the painful task of informing Frank and Barbara that U2 were no longer Premier clients. The business was changing. I had to say the same to Ian Flooks of Wasted Talent, who had been our brilliant agent in the rest of the world.

"We then started working worldwide with Michael Cohl and Arthur Fogel, then working under the name TNA. Though Michael is no longer part of the organization, TNA became SFX, that became Clear Channel and the current Live Nation concert organization, which is in many ways the successor to Frank Barsalona's network.  We are still working with Arthur Fogel, who first played U2 in the El Mocambo in Toronto in 1980, a date booked by Premier.

"Frank was a great man and we will not see his like again. My sympathies and condolences go to his wife June and daughter Nicole."

Read more at http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/touring/frank-barsalona-remembered-by-u2-manager-1008028402.story#LJz8tfyBlgc1mkCv.99


U2TOURFANS Fundraiser

Its that time of year again. We have started our annual fundraising drive to support the U2TOURFANS experience. Which includes our youtube channel, facebook page, twitter channel and of course our web community. Fans from around the world support the site with donations to fund the project.

We are a totally free site and yes non profit We are supported by donations from people like you. 

This year we have picked a couple of our favorite U2 items and created a U2 gift package for your donation. We have many levels of donations available. All you have to do is pick a level that works for you and your gift will be shipped directly to you worldwide. 

So why do we need donations ? Well frankly the site is not free and hosting costs money.  Also we build up funds for our tour team. We send our reporting team out on the road during tour season. We also fund projects that support our community. In the coming year we will be supporting some junior writers and working on a new platform for our mobile fans.

All of this is possible because of your donation.  Please consider any amount. We do our fundraising once a year.  Your donations support the project for a full year.  Thank you for your consideration.  All the best to you this holiday season.

U2TOURFANS Team 

Annual Donation Drive