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

Songs Of Innocence (Behind the Scenes)

In the two minute clip, Bono opens up with some rather prophetic statements about the band’s new work. “These songs were always destined,” he’s heard to remark as they tune up instruments.

“But rather than it being paint by number where it’s very disciplined and prescribed.

I always think of the zen artists – they spend all their time mixing the ink.

And it’s those last few minutes where those gestures are recorded. That’s the way all our albums go.”

The video depicts the band’s tight space, playing with hard guitar lines, different vocal styles and discussing how imagination and art work together.

And even though the studio looks like a rather poorly lit place, rest-assured Bono doesn’t lose his sunglasses.

U2 Blasted ! Summer 2015 !

Now that we have had a few days to dig into the album and take a listen it seems that some fans have found their way to the the top of the food chain to blast the boys on a free album release on Apple. Calling them "Sell outs" Rich old dudes" and "Lame"  Change is not always good for everyone. Some view change as a departure from what is safe and secure throwing anger towards it makes them feel better. We guess. 

Fan pages have been popping up all over the place offering suggestions of when the next tour might happen.  Its really comes down to availability of locations around the word and routing the band in the right direction to make the most money possible on the road. This will take time.  We heard that we should not expect anything sooner than 2015 and it will run always out into 2016.

We u2 fans really did not know how close to over this really was. Yes over, finished, done and final. Not talking about the music; talking about the band. Sources ( hate when we say this, however we have been asked to not say who) close to the band say that this has been a challenging time for them. This album has had a lot of start and stops and a lot of redirection, to the point that it pulled the boys apart for a bit. Now truth be told that any labor of love will cause some drama and the suggestion that the boys may end this ride seem as possible as humm what ?  Marriages are challenging and the boys have been marriages along time; let them have their private fights and lets just enjoy the music. 

We at U2TOURFANS have a lot in store for you. We are going to gear up a massive U2 touring team that will provide the best coverage of the band, videos, and concert news possible. Watch for over the next few weeks our brand new community center.

Cheers

 

Letter from Bono

A letter from Bono, on the arrival 'of our new baby' - Songs of Innocence.

'Hello, bonjour, ciao, hola, hallo, zdravo, dobar dan, Dia duit, hæ, hej,hei, cześć, olá, ćao, namaste, sawatdee, jambo, pozdravi, Γεια σου, привіт, שלום, مرحبا, こんにちは, , سلام, 你好, Привет….

Remember us? Pleased to announce myself, Edge, Adam and Larry have finally given birth to our new baby… Songs of Innocence. It’s been a while. We wanted to get it right for you/us. We just finished it last week and thanks to Apple and iTunes it’s with you today. That’s already amazing to me as it normally takes a few months to turn this stuff around.

Part of the DNA of this band has always been the desire to get our music to as many people as possible. In the next 24 hours, over a half a billion people are going to have Songs of Innocence… should they choose to check it out. That is so exciting. People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library. Country fans, hip hop afficionados from east LA, electro poppers from Seoul, Bhangra fans from New Delhi, Highlifers in Accra… might JUST be tempted to check us out, even for a moment.

What a mind blowing, head scratching, 21st century situation. Over 500 million people… that’s a billion ears. And for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way… the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail.

You’ll have noticed the album is free to U2.com’ers from the band. It’s also free to everyone on iTunes thanks to Apple. To celebrate the ten year anniversary of our iPod commercial, they bought it as a gift to give to all their music customers.

Free, but paid for. Because if no-one's paying anything for it, we’re not sure “free” music is really that free. It usually comes at a cost to the art form and the artist… which has big implications, not for us in U2, but for future musicians and their music... all the songs that have yet to be written by the talents of the future… who need to make a living to write them.

We’re collaborating with Apple on some cool stuff over the next couple of years, innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed. We’ll keep you posted. If you like Songs of Innocence,  stay with us for Songs of Experience. It should be ready soon enough… although I know I’ve said that before…

I hope after listening to our new long player a few times, you’ll understand why it took so long. We really went there… it’s a very, very personal album. Apologies if that gets excruciating… actually, I take that back. No apologies if it gets excruciating. What’s the point in being in U2 if you can’t go there?
There is no end to LOVE.'
BONO

No Billboard or No Grammy nod for U2

The world was surprised today by the release of U2’s  “Songs of Innocence” as a free download on for iTunes account holders and streamed on Beats Music you will not see the album make the Billboard top 200. 

Yup since the album really does not go on sale until October 14th pretty much knocks it out of Billboard and also knocked them out of Grammy consideration.  Rules for Grammy consideration are very clear.


 "The album must be commercially available in order for it to be eligible, and the official release date determines its eligibility in a particular awards year," a Grammys rep told Billboard. "In this case, the album is commercially available on Oct. 14, 2014, so it will be eligible for consideration for the 58th Grammy Awards."


Apple has a spend of in excess of $100 Million on an ad campaign supporting the release of the new devices which includes the single "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone."  No word on how much Apple paid U2 for the single or the early release of the album however you can be sure that Bono and the boys did not let it go out the door cheap.


Now U2 and management will have a chance to talk to the Academy to get some understanding on the rules however for now is a celebration for U2 fans and for the band to finally release some new music.

 

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.

Confirmed! U2 will release in 2014

Rumors, Speculations and just flat out crazy suggestions that the band has past its time have created enough chaos to make U2 fans scream.  Here is the deal, as we know it.

When you have as many producers has this next project looks to have Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth both engage on this project things tend to take a bit longer.  

The band has always said that they will release in 2014 however with the noise about Bono and his “writers block” and the possibility of calling it a day, it seems to have created enough noise that they could be over. 

Well we have checked. Sources at the label have confirmed that we expect a single in the September and a full release in November.

Now remember the boys do have a new manager so we can expect some changes on how the project will be released. What we know is that leaks are bad! Both Venezuela and Columbia Uni offices had their hand slapped for posting on social media  

So what about a tour, we have check our sources at some of the bigger stadiums and well this does not look so good in fact we should expect a smaller venue tighter sets and multi day shows from the group. Think MSG and not Meadowlands.    

The band is in a restart mode so expect a lot of comment about going back to their roots, which will include everything from marketing, packaging, music and of course touring.

All of us agree we are older and maybe wiser yet we still dream of the U2 of yesterday however maybe its better to think about the U2 of the future and what could become the most amazing year ahead.

Closer than you think U2's new release ?

This is unconfirmed yet its so possible that we thought we better share the news. Within a forum on U2START.com a user named "u2lemonman" posted the following with images.

Well looking I what I have just received from a friend from London who is well connected, it looks like a release is closer than we think.

I am having trouble uploading the images so I have mailed them to the staff to help me share them with you

What we do know is that this subway photograph was taken in New York City and that the subway stop was close to ELS. We always thought the new project should be called Lucky 13. In the upper right hand corner a reference "u2luckneu01" which we do not have any idea.  Now scroll down to look at the liner notes.  This is the way promotional copies are released to statiions. HOWEVER.  Band never send the full release out on the first go around. Normally its months later.  

Note the release date June 13th 2014, its this is the case its time to start the promotional tracks and interviews and U2 all the time.  So boys is this the real deal ?

 

Why do we want another U2 album ?

Before we all get up into a fight about what we should talk about and write about when it comes to U2. Lets all remember we are fans and that our love for the music really has created a community.

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 ? How would another U2 album change the course of your musical experience ? Why could we not just let U2 drift off into the summer afternoon with the thought that we have all been apart of musical history.