"I am a singer and a songwriter but I am also a father, four times over. I am a friend to dogs. I am a sworn enemy of the saccharine; and a believer in grace over karma. I talk too much when I'm drunk and sometimes even when I'm not."
-- Bono, 2001 Harvard graduation speech
Column: off the record..., vol. 13-597
December 15, 2013
It's the end of the year, so it's time to reflect on the past year's accomplishments and start thinking about the year that's ahead of us. It was a bit of a roller coaster in terms of album/no album news and expectations, but there were also other important developments. So let's look back on 2013 and what was some of the memorable U2 news.
January: The year is off to a promising start with Larry expressing hope of being done with recording and releasing an album by September and then releasing something else not too long after. When Bono says stuff like this, I usually take it with a bucketful of salt, but if it's Larry…. At the time, I really thought we had something there.
February: Adam talks about the "Walk In My Shoes" campaign and how music saved him and the other members of U2 from depression. It was nice to see Adam having fun dancing with others during the launch of the campaign.
March: This time it's Adam sharing some thoughts about the new album(s). Yay! "We could make three or four different records and justify that to ourselves". Yes, by now there should be a lot of material on the shelf. Time to use it indeed!
April: The second U2 Conference takes place in Cleveland, Ohio. I didn't attend, but judging from the videos and articles about it, it sounds like it was a lot of fun and very interesting with so many different perspectives on the band.
May/June: Both Daniel Lanois and Chris Blackwell hear "the" new album and say it's amazing and big. It's not just them that's excited -- Facebook and Twitter almost explode when the news breaks. "Well, it's May, so releasing it in September is probably too soon, but it might still be out this year" were my thoughts at the time. Then there's a lot of buzz about U2 being in the Electric Lady studios, apparently to finish mixing the new album (this is also when Chris Blackwell heard the new songs. There is some speculation about whether Chris Martin was collaborating on the album.
July: Gavin Friday gives his opinion on the new album: "Their most exciting release since Achtung Baby." It does sound promising, doesn't it? Now the album must surely be almost finished! I mean, three high-profile people around U2 that hear the album in the last few months -- that's a sure sign of completion.
August: But then Bono squashes my hopes for a 2013 release with his latest way of saying they're still very much working on the album and that they really don't want to think about when it might possibly be finished. "We are just lost in it, and we surely don't wanna wake up out of this until the dream is done." Yes, I remember now. A U2 album is never finished until it is released. They'll always find ways to draw out the process!
September: Thankfully, this month brings some other nice news to soothe the pain of "non-albumness." Adam gets married! I hope he and his Brazilian wife will be very happy. They certainly deserve it. 'Parabéns' (congratulations) to them both!
October: Larry's new movie, A Thousand Times Goodnight, debuts in Oslo. Unfortunately there is not much news about what role Larry plays. He's seen in the trailer, but that doesn't explain a whole lot. Perhaps it's just a small role, but all the same, it sounds like a movie that's worth watching even if he's not in it all that much.
November: U2 fans all over the world are shocked to hear that Paul McGuinness steps down as U2's manager and Guy Oseary takes over. As the man himself said, McGuinness has been with the band so long that it somehow felt impossible for him to quit when the band is still active. But I'm fairly optimistic about what Oseary is going to bring to the table. Perhaps a bit less focus on the business side and more focus on fan interaction might be a good thing for U2. Also, one of the reasons McGuinness is not going to be managing anymore is a world tour in the making… So in the end, there is a bit of certainty of a new album and tour after all, albeit not in 2013 but in 2014. A good way to end the year.
December: "Ordinary Love" is quite successful on the charts and is nominated for a Golden Globe, but sadly its subject, Nelson Mandela, dies in the same month. R.I.P. Madiba.
Now that the reminiscing is over, I'd like to look ahead to the new year and make some New Year's Resolutions for the band.
1) Finish and release the album. Yes, "finish" is relative, so if you want to polish up the songs on tour, that's fine as well. Just don't overproduce the album itself until any rawness is gone.
2) Brainstorm about the next tour. Please don't try to top the Claw, guys!
3) Consult fans about what they'd like the next tour to be in terms of venues, stage, etc. It's always better to ask than to assume.
4) See if there is any way to compromise (not a dirty word, after all) and do something both your fans and you are happy with regarding the tour.
5) Revive Edge's Twitter account. It was really nice to see his perspective on things through his pictures.
6) Get the whole band on Facebook. It's fun, you'll see!
7) Go on tour. Change the set list frequently so it's fresh for both you and your audience. It's actually very nice and exciting for fans to not know 99.9% sure what they're going to hear at a concert and in what order.
Yes, it's unrealistic, but still fun to think about!
Happy holidays to you all and here's to a great 2014!
(c) @U2, 2013.