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"['Mofo'] . . . became the heaviest song maybe we've ever written. I feel like my whole life is in that one tune."

-- Bono

@U2 home page

Column: off the record…, vol. 12-527

@U2, August 12, 2012
By: Ian Ryan


off the record, from @U2

Happy birthday, Mr. The Edge! According to Bono, you’ve been on fire for 36 years now and I hope no one puts you out for a long time to come.

Because Mr. The Edge's birthday was on Aug. 8 and because I hadn't listened to it for quite a while, I've got the Captive soundtrack on as I write this. I've never seen the movie, as no video rental outlet I've asked has ever had a copy, but more so than most movie soundtracks I feel that Captive stands on its own as a creative work. My two favorite tracks are "Rowena's Theme" and "Island."

“Rowena’s Theme” captures the dark, damp, claustrophobic loneliness that can come with a bitter, isolating autumn and winter. It brings up thoughts of never-ending gray skies and rain, of falling leaves that have lost their sunlit colors and pile up in mushy, brown piles of detritus. It's a song for someone who has nothing but weak soup and stale bread to eat, a flimsy shawl to warm herself with, and a small window to look out on the gray.

On the other hand, “Island” makes me dream of lying in a hammock, sleeping away sun-warmed days on a quiet beach, hard lemonade in hand, and the sound of waves so blue that they're almost clear.    

I love how music can create such images with just a series of sounds. I can listen to either of these songs for ages, repeating again and again.

I recently regained access to my Blu-ray player after being separated by an ocean for a long while. After watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (required viewing for anyone with a Blu-ray player or 1080p streaming device, FYI), I got out U2 360 Live From The Rose Bowl and decided to give that another watch. I was really taken aback at how lousy the visual quality was. The sound was beautiful and the colors were brilliant, but the clarity of the images barely even warranted the high-end HD transfer. 

Conversely, to this day I have not found another 3D digital movie that was as clear, crisp and well-made as U2 3D, and that movie is almost five years old.

The band Garbage have a long history with U2, including opening for U2 during part of the Elevation tour. Larry even took over drum duties for Butch Vig (who has done a few remixes for U2) for a couple of songs when the Garbage drummer took ill. After being away for seven years due to record company disputes and a general frustration with the industry, Garbage released their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind Of People, in May. It is, in my opinion, the best work of their careers. The best rock music is the type that doesn't tread too far over to the saccharine blandness of pop music while at the same time not freaking out too much, as metal often does. Garbage have found that wonderful happy medium, much like U2 or Kings of Leon. Shirley Manson's voice is more potent than ever and it's a very sweet feeling to have a new rock album to really be able to get into. They just don't come along too often these days. Here are a couple sample tracks from the album: "Automatic Systematic Habit" and "Blood For Poppies." For what it's worth, Garbage is also the second best rock band I've ever seen live. I'm sure you can guess what the first is.

This is a fascinating site: Put in your favorite website, for example, then see how it scales with the rest of the destinations on the internet.

© @U2/Ryan, 2012.

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