"[M]usic has lost the personality of human beings and musicians. It's got so shiny that it's as if there's a surface of Formica over it. And it's something that doesn't let you in."
-- Edge, 2003
Column: off the record..., vol. 13-590
October 27, 2013
I have been busy with work projects and have not had a chance to participate in discussions on the 25th anniversary of Rattle And Hum. But all this coverage has sparked memories of one of my birthday presents from my 16th birthday. That year, my parents gave me a t-shirt with the cover of the "Desire" single. It was a black t-shirt, with the image of Larry hunched over the drum kit. Larry has always been my answer when asked which member of the band is my favorite, so I was happy to have the shirt.
The shirt went with me for my first year of university. The first week I was there, I bumped into another student wearing the same shirt. Later I would spot him wearing a Depeche Mode t-shirt that I also had. Somewhere along the way we struck up a conversation and became fast friends. We eventually moved in next door to each other in residence. At least living down the hall made it easier to ensure we weren't walking around campus in the same shirt. I wonder if that friendship would have been made if it weren't for that Rattle And Hum t-shirt.
I still have that t-shirt. The print is all cracked and aged now. You can't really call it black anymore, since it has faded to grey after a number of washes. But it was my first U2 t-shirt, and I find it hard to part with. I also find it hard to believe it is 25 years old now. Thanks Mom and Dad for buying me such a great gift that year!
Oh, and I'm still a fan of the drummer. It is his birthday this week. Happy birthday Larry Mullen! Thanks for that note on the bulletin board. It not only formed a great band, but lead me personally to some incredible friendships.
The Irish Times reported that the full version of "Ordinary Love" will be released on U2.com on Wednesday. A short clip of the song was previously heard in a trailer for the film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Fan club members were sent an email from U2.com announcing a special on the website at a specific time. When they logged in, the trailer for the movie was shown. I will admit I fell for the "unknown" and rushed into work that night so I would have the best internet connection possible in case it was something amazing. I was disappointed when it was just a snippet of a song in the background of a trailer. I might have been less cranky if they had told me up front it would be a trailer with some new U2 content.
Now it looks like the full song may be coming, and nothing has been sent out from U2.com. I hope that if it is streamed on Wednesday they will promote it -- it might make up for some dashed expectations from the last email that was sent.
Speaking of new music, the new Arcade Fire album Reflektor comes out this week. I've been anticipating this one as much as the new U2 album. I'm happy to have something to fall in love with over the coming months, while I wait for the U2 album to be finished.
I have been watching the release of Reflektor and other high profile releases for hints about what U2 may do. The Arcade Fire press campaign started with posters and graffiti posted worldwide which just had the Reflektor logo and no mention of the band. It was only later that these were confirmed to be from Arcade Fire. They have also done a number of small, intimate concerts where they require the fans attend in formal dress or full out costume to gain admission. And a special filmed at one of the concerts even featured a small cameo from Bono.
Perhaps most surprising is that the album did not leak in full on the internet until after it was placed on sale early in some countries. I got notice that my physical copy had shipped from a pre-order before the leak appeared online. In the past, U2 albums have leaked weeks in advance, so it was interesting to see this one kept so closely under wraps.
And Arcade Fire, like many acts, are embracing multiple video formats. It isn't unusual for an artist to release the video in several formats, including one which details the lyrics. Why the multiple video formats? I believe it is to take advantage of Billboard's new chart statistics which will include video plays on YouTube in the charts. Get a video that goes viral with your song attached and it is great for your chart standing. Kanye West recently had his song "Gone" reach number 18 on the Billboard chart eight years after it was initially released because it was used in a video that went viral of a woman resigning.
U2 are you paying attention? Get some amazing videos ready to go and figure out how to get the word out about them if you want to find a place in the charts.
I know there has been some disappointment that U2 didn't hit the fall 2013 target for a new album. This one has been frustrating, since we've been hearing about a release since Bono first discussed "Songs Of Ascent" for a fall 2009 release. We were close again in 2011 when Adam discussed getting the album out before the tour resumed, getting so close that the song "North Star" appeared in the Transformers 3 movie.
But this time it feels like it is happening with the photo shoots.and the energy building. I'm starting to let myself get excited.
And speaking of history … here's 30 years of Bono in about one minute. Am I the only one disappointed the jacket at the end didn't light up with laser beams shooting through the fog?!
© @U2, 2013.