There isn’t a strong religion-news hook to this next item from the Chicago Tribune, unless one assumes that any story involving U2 and Bono has a neo-messianic theme in there somewhere between the lines.
Or maybe religion really does have something to do with this unusual in-print encounter between the U2 frontman and music critic Greg Kot, which ran online with the headline “Bono: ‘We need to talk.’” The Tribune page for the Q&A has several interesting links to previous stories that let you know where this all came from.
Suffice it to say, Kot thinks U2 has gone stale and old-fashioned, during the current hot-ticket tour. The band is performing too many of its classics, he thinks. On top of that, he is upset about U2′s “Vertigo” ad — done for no pay — on behalf of the iPod universe.
Just to get specific about things, Kot wants to know why U2 is so fond of songs like that old-fashioned, non-ironic, hyper-sincere chestnut, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” What’s up with that?
Bono was rather ticked off and called Kot up, requesting a heart-to-heart on the record. That’s the source of the Tribune update. They cover all kinds of ground, but the many U2 fans-of-faith will be especially interested in what Mr. Sunglasses has to say in defense of that old “Streets” song.
It seems that it does play a crucial role in the band’s inner world. A certain place is going to freeze over before this particular justice-hungry glimpse of a New Jerusalem shows up in an ad.
We have turned down enormous sums of money to put our songs in a commercial, where we felt, to your point, where it might change the way people appreciated the song. We were offered $23 million for just the music to “Where the Streets Have No Name.” We thought we could do a lot of good with that money. Give it away. But if a show is a little off, and there’s a hole, that’s the one song we can guarantee that God will walk through the room as soon as we play it. So the idea that when we played it, people would go, “That’s the ‘such-and-such’ commercial,” we couldn’t live with it.
All in all, it is a very interesting exchange for music fans and especially for those who have followed U2 for a long time. I do get the impression that the music critic isn’t all that fond of the Catholic-Presbyterian fusion side of the band. Kot wants more Zoo TV-style experimentation. The U2 base still wants three chords and the truth.
But forget U2 for a minute. Three cheers to Bono and Kot for even having this conversation and then putting it into print. There are many, many religion-related stories that I wish could receive this kind of follow-up attention in a major MSM outlet — printed on dead tree pulp or online in bytes. More!