04 March 2009

9 required writing

there are times when i feel required to write about something.

for example, whenever a kennedy runs into a road block, runs for office, runs for... well, anything. it seems at those times, as the resident Group Keeper of All Kennedy-Related Things, i should have a rush of analysis at the ready. or whenever anyone in any way vaguely-related to the tv, film, or theater of my childhood, a first family, or tabloids dies. i'm there with the eugoogley. hell, i am the girl who has blogged about every email i've ever received regarding the dvd release of the mary tyler moore show. because these are terribly important things.

and the release of the new u2 album yesterday was a terribly important thing. but then, it really wasn't.

i should preface this with the fact that i love u2. i counted down to every single/album/show, downloaded every findable bootleg, read every book, condemned every writer of a bad review, dissected every lyric. i believed the nonsense that all that you can't leave behind was a step forward. i thought the endless stream of greatest hits drivel was a musical boon.

but, if we're being honest, the only emotion i felt this past december upon hearing that u2 would finally be releasing a new album (their first in 5 years) was dread. unadulterated dread.

i didn't really think about it much then. now, i think i didn't think about it then because i was afraid i would wind up thinking what i'm thinking now.

which is that maybe u2 will never be u2 again. at least not my u2.

yes, they'll be the big stadium act that puts on the same two-hour show night after night (a gimmick i've defended for years though deep in the pits of my heart it pisses me off). bono will keep running around the heart/circle/square during "streets."

adam will always be stage left. edge will always be stage right. at one point during the evening, like foreign dignitaries deigning to visit the poorer nation next door, they will each saunter over and briefly acknowledge the fans on the opposite side of the stage before returning to their respective corners.

u2 will always do an encore. and in that encore, bono will always pull a girl up on the stage during "with or without you" and all us sad-saps in the audience will always be thinking, oh my God, bono just pulled that girl up ON THE STAGE and now he's going to SING TO HER!!! to us, this will seem shocking though it is something he has done in every performance since 1989.

that is u2.

but that is not my u2. and, sadly, i'm fast coming to the realization that perhaps my u2 has died.

what we are left with is a sad, scared u2. a u2 that takes 5 years to produce an album that sounds curiously similar to the 2 albums they put out in the 5 years before that.

they have set up camp in a dead end.

this realization has left me strangely bereft. longing for the u2 that could form a band before they knew how to play their instruments. that could make four videos for a song called "one." that could make "with or without you" run 10 minutes long. the u2 that could close an album with a song so against where they were that it could only be sung by johnny cash.

for the most part, everybody seems ok without all that, with this new u2. the guardian declared this their "greatest studio album ever."

seriously. people. what the fuck?

maybe everyone else reached the point of lowered expectations in advance of me.

or maybe this is just the normal process of realizing the heroes of your youth have become old men.


Unknown said...

amen. a thousand times amen.

Meggie said...

I will try to refrain from commenting about how much better Bon Jovi is than U2.

And then again maybe not...

oline said...

it's been really nice knowing you.

meggie that is.

i plan to keep knowing jeremy a lot.

Les Savy Ferd said...

yeah, but not all old men turn out work that isn't up to the snuff of their youth.

As a rapidly aging and perhaps self-identifying 'old man', I have gained much appreciation for both the over-dramatic, maudlin, 'our time is now' drunkeness of youth, I'm thinking Bright Eyes 'Letting Off the Happiness' which is and sounds like a 16 year-old who has lost Love and *will never find it ever again* and there is something incredibly pleasing and real about all of it.

Conor as an older man... not so much. At least not for me.

However there are tons of folks who age gracefully. The Clooneys and Thurston Moores of the world.

I confess to not knowing exactly how old U2 is.

But I'm heartbroken for you. Please be there when this happens to me with radiohead in the future, whenever that happens to be.

oline said...

u2 is 29.

i'm there for ya, pirate. and i have to admit there's still a sweet spot in my heart for conor. though i vividly remember, after the release of digital ash, jen standing in the kitchen of her apartment on honore with her hands in a halt position saying, i'm just SO over his youthful angst now.

speaking of which, remember that concert? the concert that proved two hours of music without drums makes us want to die. and the scary agressive crowd response to the drunk guy screaming will farrell-like, this one's for celia? i wonder whatever happened to him. i think i've always assumed that after we left there was a heads-on-pikes revolt.

Osutein said...

I generally try not to hold an artist's decline against them. A lot of the time I shrug and think, "well, they produced greatness in the past and if the creative well has largely run dry, then well, it was a good run while it lasted."

But sometimes the question isn't the Saharafication of one's right brain neurons, but the inability to move past what was successful and explore the here and now. Like Jen expressed with Conor. Granted, I haven't listened to the new album yet, but "How to Dismantle..." to me seemed to mine the same basic territory "Joshua Tree" et al did. U2's getting old, but "City of Blinding Lights" and the lot still seemed to be aimed at capturing the rush and energy of youth. I liked "How to Dismantle..." but it felt like U2 hadn't grown, hadn't embraced the artistic well that is being old, massively successful, and lampooned on South Park for being a sentient turd. Instead, the songs seemed to be coming from a group of bright young lads filled with love, longing, and big ideas heading out to play a gig in Temple Bar on a Thursday night.

In other words, U2 needs to stop speaking to me and start speaking to my dad.

Les Savy Ferd said...

basically I agree with Jen. It's fine if you are singing and acting like a 16 year-old when you are 16. When you're in your mid twenties? well, hopefully by then you've found a healthier means of expression.

I have found a deeper appreciation of 'old man rock' of late. People like the Kinks, the Stooges, the Stones, Tom Waits, etc.

Also, did you hear about the bitch slap Wayne Coyne gave Win Bulter? Damn, girlfriend. Damn.

oline said...

did you read win's retort? and can i just say again how i love it when artists throw down.

Les Savy Ferd said...

I did read the rebuttal. Basically, it made me like both artists more, if thats possible. New arcade fire, where are you....

but for those of us jonesing for more Wolf parade-esque stuff, one of their many many side projects, Swan Lake, has an album coming out towards the end of Mars.