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"We still make music for virgins. That is the most powerful moment, the discovery." -- Bono, 2005

Column: off the record..., vol. 12-515


off the record, from @U2

It is that time of the year again when fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new fan club CD and getting frustrated wondering when it will arrive. Given the past history of difficulties with these CDs, it is no surprise that people do get worried.

The subscriber CDs started with U2.Communication, which was first announced on Nov. 28, 2005. Three weeks passed between the announcement of the CD and the gift arriving in fans' hands. Zoo TV Live was announced in November of the following year, and also appeared in mailboxes within three weeks. U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle was announced in November 2007, and started arriving within seven weeks of the announcement.

In November 2008, U2.com announced they were working on the annual gift. A few weeks later they asked subscribers to hold off on subscribing until a new gift was ready. The Medium, Rare, And Remastered set was not announced until late February, and the first reports of it arriving in fans' hands was early April. Fans were also given an extension in subscriptions to make up for the late arrival of the gift. It was five months from the first mention of a new gift, until they started arriving.

Artificial Horizon was announced in September 2009, and started arriving in March 2010, six months from announcement until arrival. Duals was first announced in August 2010 and started arriving eight months later in April 2011. I wasn't even worried about U22 yet. The compilation was first mentioned last October, and we know that every year the time between announcement and fulfillment seems to be getting later and later. June would have them right on the expected pace for the annual gift, especially for a release that they seem to be putting additional work into designing and editing.

Speaking of U22, the recent information that it would start shipping at the end of May came with a note, "On May 30th download a further EIGHT tracks from the 22 on the double CD -- and U22 will be on the way to you." Am I the only one who is disappointed they aren't offering tracks that didn't make U22? We will all have the CD in a few weeks if we subscribe, so these downloads will mean little in the long run, but I would sure love to have some of the tracks that didn't make the CD.

"Unknown Caller (Live from London, Aug. 14, 2009)" was released this week as a present to U2.com subscribers. It will not be on the final U22 album. I was far more excited to have that song, knowing it won't be on the final release, than the other three songs U2.com has made available. I'm still hoping for a download of the never before released "Return Of The Stingray Guitar." Please let us hear "40," the last song of the last night of the tour. I would personally love to hear "Mothers Of The Disappeared" from Istanbul, one of those tour moments that gave me goose bumps.

Thank you so much for "Unknown Caller," and not to be greedy, but can we please have more?!

I was at my local HMV music store last week browsing through iPhone cases when I spotted one that said "U2" amongst other random words. The case was a celebrity-designed product, sold to raise funds for whateverittakes.org. The product is part of an artwork campaign launched by an organization that has gathered 660 leaders, from royalty to Nobel Peace Prize laureates and musicians, to design artwork that is used on products the foundation sells. Proceeds go to toward poverty alleviation, environmental conservation and protection of children.

The Chris Martin (of Coldplay) design is a cross, and inside the cross are multi-colored words including "U2." Looking at the case in the store, "U2," "Music," "Happiness," "Hope" and "Cakebread" were the words that stood out and caught my eye. The design has been made available on mugs, mouse mats and a plate.

Looking through the list of contributors I was surprised to see a doodle by The Edge as well. It looks pretty simple, mostly a blue dot. But the self-portrait doodle is fun. Unlike the Chris Martin design, no product is yet available with The Edge's design. I'd be happy to have a little "doodle" Edge on a mug someday, so I will be checking back.

Has the shine worn off All That You Can't Leave Behind? Rolling Stone magazine has published a "Top 500 Albums Of All Time" list. The list was first published in 2003, then updated in 2005 and again this year. The most recent version of the list is now available on store shelves.

U2 has had five albums on the list for each update. The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can't Leave Behind, War and Boy all appear on the list. With each edition, new albums have been added and some shifting of placement has occurred for most albums in the list. For four of the U2 albums listed here, those shifts have been less than five places since the chart was first published in 2003. All That You Can't Leave Behind was initially placed at 139 on the list of "Top 500 Albums Of All Time." The most recent published list now has the album at 280, and the fourth U2 album on the list behind War. All That You Can't Leave Behind is the only album that has had a major shift downward.

My mother loves to suggest that given any artist, I can link them to U2, whether it be someone Bono has worked with, a producer in common, or maybe even Bono has covered a song live in concert. I'm usually pretty quick with an answer.

To test the theory, I looked up the artists born today, May 20, and found out it was Cher's birthday.

I knew my connection right away, and no, it wasn't marrying Sonny Bono! Cher has been using "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" to open her shows for years. If you don't believe me, there's always YouTube. Happy birthday Cher!


(c) @U2, 2012.