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Column: off the record..., vol. 13-570

@U2, June 09, 2013
By: Aaron J. Sams

 

off the record, from @U2

Recently I spent my birthday in Tallinn, Estonia. It was a beautiful city, and right in the middle of the old town, just around the corner from the city square, I made a musical discovery. Depeche Mode had been immortalized as a bar! Depeche Mode has long been a favorite band of mine since high school. So I couldn't resist stepping in.

The bar is not only named for Depeche Mode, but the entire bar is also decorated using imagery from Depeche Mode's singles and albums. Light fixtures make use of single covers. There are displays of old ticket stubs on the walls. The tables are covered with old magazine clippings including some from old fan club magazines. And the band has even visited and had their photos taken in the bar. It was a great space, and I loved sitting in that environment listening to songs from one of my favorite albums.

For those who don't follow Depeche Mode, they have long had an association with Anton Corbijn, who has been involved in shaping their image just as he has with U2. They've even worked with the team at AmpVisual on some projects along the way. So it was an easy jump for me to start thinking about what a U2 bar might look like while sitting and sipping on my "Enjoy The Silence" -- yes, all the drinks are named after Depeche Mode songs!

Bathroom symbols could be crafted from the Elevation logo. Tables could be covered in articles from Propaganda. The color scheme would be blacks and grays, with pops of red. The stereo would play the albums, the b-sides, and maybe a bootleg along the way. The bank of seats at the bar would be called "The Edge," of course. Fans would be able to walk in and order a "Where The Streets Have No Name" off the menu and sit and enjoy with other fans. Anyone want to help me craft the drink menu?!


The 20th anniversary of Zooropa is fast approaching. Twenty years ago I was a bit of a lapsed fan of U2. Rattle And Hum hadn't been my thing and during that time I had started to explore other music. Depeche Mode definitely came to the forefront for me with the release of Violator. And while I was quick to buy Achtung Baby I didn't connect with that album for a very long time -- it took me years to get into it although I did love "Mysterious Ways." I paid some attention to the Zoo TV tour, but I was unable to attend, and instead focused my musical interests elsewhere.

I didn't even know Zooropa was coming out. "Numb" wasn't getting any airplay. I had a busy job and wasn't paying attention to the music world. I was cut off from the Internet for the summer being home from university. The week the album was released I saw it in a flier for a music store. Living two hours away from the nearest store, I asked a friend to pick it up for me. I still liked material on Rattle And Hum and Achtung Baby enough to test it out.

U2 somehow had managed to figure out what I was listening to. All my explorations in music had led me to the same spot as U2. The album became a favorite. Returning to university that fall, I found myself living with three big U2 fans. That helped reel me in further. Original Soundtracks 1 and Pop continued to follow my path of musical development and strengthened my interest in the band again. But it was Zooropa that started my transition back to the fold. I still love that album, and still list it as a favorite.

I can't believe that was 20 years ago, and I've been living with Zooropa for half of my life now. It is the album I have the most vivid memories of taking out of the plastic and listening to for the first time.


Recently in the atu2.com forum someone asked about the 1998 theme to the Japanese television show "Godzilla Island." The song was credited to "The Edge" and a quick look around the internet made it look like it was U2's "The Edge." The song is a fun little song, with a female vocalist who sings about the many monsters from the Godzilla stories. But was it really U2's The Edge?

Wikipedia said yes. Several Godzilla fan sites said yes. But I wasn't happy and wanted confirmation. Nowhere on the Internet could I find information that clearly related who the artist was. I finally ended up tracking down a copy of the song on a 3-Inch CD single from Japan. Yes, the song is credited to "The Edge," but the CD single cleared up the rest of the mystery. With thanks to Hiro, I was able to translate the full credits from the single. It confirms that the vocals are credited to "The Edge." Yes, the female vocalist is The Edge as well, and it is not the guitar player from U2 on this track. Wikipedia was wrong, and I have since submitted edits to remove the reference. Mystery solved!

And while The Edge wasn't involved in the theme of "Godzilla Island," he did contribute the theme to another television show, "The Batman."


All the suggestions that a U2 album may be released this fall have me worried. I'm worried because another favorite, Arcade Fire, are rumored to be releasing a new album at the same time. I'm expecting some conflict for my attention, especially if both decide to tour. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get to see them perform with U2 again, like they did the final night of the 360 tour in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, and at three nights on the Vertigo tour in 2005.

U2 fans may remember the song "Wake Up." It's the song U2 chose to take the stage to on the Vertigo tour. But have you ever seen Arcade Fire performing with U2? That's a Joy Division song they are covering during the Vertigo tour shows in Montreal. When Arcade Fire took the stage that night, the screen behind the stage turned red, and "Where The Streets Have No Name" played over the PA as a nod to U2 taking the stage to "Wake Up" each night.

(c) @U2, 2013.



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