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"I don't like music unless it has a healing effect. I don't like it when people leave concerts still feeling edgy." — Bono

Column: off the record ... vol. 18-768



One of our readers emailed me a couple weeks ago. He was talking about Songs Of Experience and mentioned that his favorite song, "Book Of Your Heart," didn't even make the main album. I could tell that he expected me to reply in kind with my thoughts about the songs that have been growing on me in the month since the album came out. But all I could do was confess: "I don't think I've listened to the album in the last two weeks."

It's true. SOE didn't grab me the same way it grabbed many of our @U2 staffers. That staff review happened way too soon for me to have any coherent thoughts, but I did eventually post a kinda-sorta album review on my personal site. I'll save you the hassle of clicking and reading: Basically, my initial reaction to SOE was a mixed bag of yays and nays, and I'm waiting to hear the songs live before I really know what I think of it.

But it bothered me that I'd gone weeks without listening to a U2 album that was barely a month old. Younger Matt would've never done that!

So I went out of my way this past week to listen to Songs Of Experience a couple of times -- uninterrupted, start to finish -- and I was pretty happy to realize that it's better than I remember. Whew. Even the songs that I don't care for ... well, once they get in my brain, it's hard not to sing along. I stand by all the nays in what I wrote last month, but the yays are even stronger now than before. No kidding -- "Landlady" is quickly becoming one of my fave U2 songs ever, and "Little Things" is close on its heels. (I'm batting around the idea of doing a "Like A Song" essay on the former.) And I do think several of the new songs are probably gonna kill it in concert. May 2 is only about 13 weeks away!

Speaking of SOE, if you happen to still be shopping for the vinyl version (like I was until a couple days ago), Amazon.com currently has the 2-LP set for just $24.97, which is down from the normal $37-$38 price that it's been. And it has the full box set for just $57.84, which is down from its regular $84 price.

(Also of note: Last year's Joshua Tree 7-LP Super Deluxe Box was recently down to an all-time low of $99.90, but is showing as out-of-stock as I type this.)

If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, check out this U2 at the BBC documentary. Don't make the same mistake I did, getting excited that it's a version of the Abbey Road performance that U2 did a couple months ago. No such luck. It's a compilation of performances, interview segments and behind-the-scenes footage from when the band took over the BBC on Feb. 26-27, 2009, as part of the promo tour for No Line On The Horizon. That was when they did a radio performance, another performance on the roof of the BBC Broadcasting House and more. There are also some segments from U2's appearance on BBC's The Culture Show that same week in February 2009. Anyway, if you have Amazon Prime, check it out. Good stuff.

How about I wrap up with a couple of housekeeping items?

1) We recently added two new staffers to the @U2 crew: Robert Palacios comes on board as our visual graphics master. He'll be helping us create better and more consistent visual images for our website, social media channels and more. For example, at some point in the not-too-distant future, you won't have to look at my awful vinyl record imagery at the top of this (and every) OTR column. Before formally joining the team, Robert was also a huge help with the new @U2 site design that I hope you'll see within the next few months.

Braden Farmer also joined us recently and is taking the lead on creating a new Android mobile app. We've been searching for an Android developer for about a year and desperately need to improve that app. It was created years ago via an online service that we could no longer access to make improvements, so Braden's starting from scratch and building a new app from the ground up. We'll keep you posted on his progress.

2) After a short break, our forum re-opened on Dec. 1. If you're looking for a casual community of fans talking about the new album, promo appearances and all kinds of other stuff, sign up and join in the conversations. If you're a forum member, you'll also have access to special boards where fans can buy/sell/trade U2 concert tickets (at face value only). Not a member? Register here.

Until next time!

(c) @U2, 2018.