Hey, Thanks Apple!

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I have a new U2 album.  I got it for free yesterday from Apple and U2.  Apparently, as part of their fancy new product announcement, the corporate giant and the superstar Rock band decided to treat us all to Songs of Innocence, the latest studio effort from the band, which isn’t officially due out until October 14th.

Now, I’m not entirely sure if I get to keep it forever and ever, or if it’s going to disappear from my computer when they quit streaming it for free the day before the hard copy of the album is released (but I’ll probably burn it to a disc anyway, just in case).  Either way, it’s kind of a nice freebie.  And if you use itunes, then you’ve got Songs of Innocence, too.  Pretty neat, huh?

This is the only song I’ve actually listened to so far, and it’s pretty good (although the video and sound in the clip is kind of awful).  It’s not as good as anything off of their last album, No Line on the Horizon (which still stuns me every time I hear it), but it’s okay.  I’m looking forward to hearing the rest.  It’ll take my mind off the heat, anyway.

Repost: “Pride (In the Name of Love)”

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You know you saw this one coming, right?

U2 was always very socially aware, and their progressive Christian values were very much in keeping with Dr. King’s life and work.  Everything I could say about Dr. King has already been said, far better, by others.  But like many in the world, I still believe in the nonviolent protest and activism he used to help advance the cause of Civil Rights in this country.  I still believe in judging people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin (or how they pray, or how they vote, or what reproductive parts they possess, or any other superficial factors).  And I still believe that we can achieve Dr. King’s dream.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting a lot closer.

So, in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sing.

“Ordinary Love”

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The Golden Globes were interesting.  Kate Beckinsale got my vote for Best Dressed.  There were a lot of awkward silences and stilted speeches, which tells me those people really didn’t expect to win, or everyone was more hammered than usual (the Golden Globes are the only awards show that features an open bar).  And it reminded me that I need to get out and see some movies.

Best Song in a Motion Picture was won by U2, for their song from Mandela, “Ordinary Love.”  It’s a decent, if unremarkable U2 song.  Listenable, but not really outstanding.  But it was fun to watch the guys get up on stage and speak.  (I swear Larry Mullen, Jr. must have a portrait in the attic, because he’s looked pretty much the same for the last 20 years or so.)

Everyone talks about how the Golden Globes are the best awards show, but there’s nothing to it but giving awards and drunk celebrities.  I miss the old days when they at least played the song nominees, or had an “In Memorium” montage.  Since awards shows are billed as a celebration of what makes [insert form of entertainment here] great, then there should be some kind of celebrating, dammit.  Give out awards, sure.  But let the winners speak for a few more seconds before drowning them out with music.  Play a song or two.  (They could make room for music by getting rid of the gratuitous introductions/clips of each Best Film nominee)  One thing I like about the Oscars is that they haven’t completely done away with the interstitial bits between awards, at least not yet.  Have a little bit of fun, fer cryin’ out loud.

Although an open bar at all the awards shows would go a long way to making them all more interesting.

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

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Things got a little crazy yesterday.  Today is equally nuts, and tomorrow and the big day itself also promise to be busy.  But there’s always time for a little music.

I’ve got nothing to say about this song; it’s just one I happen to like that seemed to fit today’s news.

Because today the remaining two members of Russian Punk band Pussy Riot were released from prison.  It’s only a couple of months early, but at least these young women will be able to be with their families for Christmas.  Putting them in prison at all was a travesty.

Also today, I saw this heartwarming story about a former member of Santana who has been homeless for years being reunited with Carlos Santana.  Apparently, Marcus Malone has some royalties coming to him, and Santana seemed genuinely pleased to see his old friend.  My hope is that seeing this story will remind people that there are still homeless people year round.  The problem doesn’t go away with just one reunion.

But it’s a nice reunion.  And the freeing of political prisoners is good.  There is still much to be done, but we can be glad that these two good things have happened.  It is Christmas after all.

 

“Pride (In the Name of Love)”

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You know you saw this one coming, right?

U2 was always very socially aware, and their progressive Christian values were very much in keeping with Dr. King’s life and work.  Everything I could say about Dr. King has already been said, far better, by others.  But like many in the world, I still believe in the nonviolent protest and activism he used to help advance the cause of Civil Rights in this country.  I still believe in judging people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin (or how they pray, or how they vote, or what reproductive parts they possess, or any other superficial factors).  And I still believe that we can achieve Dr. King’s dream.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting a lot closer.

So, in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sing.

“Walk On”

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  In his honor, a song by some Irishmen.

I need to begin by explaining that I am a born again U2 fan.  They came to be when I was a teenager.  When I was in high school, Joshua Tree was released, and they went supernova.  You could not throw a rock at my high school without hitting someone in a U2 t-shirt (I never tried this, but the thought crossed my mind more than once).  They were more popular than Jesus (but because they are men of faith, they never would’ve said this).  And I’ve always had an instant antipathy to anything that popular (except The Beatles).  So for a very long time, I hated U2.  And then I listened to their music.  Really listened.  When I realized that I liked the music, I became fanatical.  Everything they put out was magnificent; every word they uttered was meaningful.  I was a little nuts, to be honest.

But that does not negate the fact that they are one of the most talented and influential bands of my generation.  And their influence carries social and cultural weight, thanks to Bono and his messiah complex (which he seems to use only for good, so I can’t complain about it too much).  They put their money where their mouths are, which is something I greatly respect in celebrities.  And even though they are still wildly successful, they continue to evolve as artists.  They embrace a level of emotion in their music that would come off as hokey if they weren’t so clearly sincere.  Edge, especially, creates a rarefied atmosphere with the music.  It almost feels like church music sometimes, which I’m sure is the intention.  They’ve come a very long way from their beginning as a bunch of Dublin punks who could barely play their instruments.

One of the regular themes of U2’s music, especially in the last decade or so, is the psychic burden of living.  As they’ve grown in fame and fortune, they’ve had to reconcile their lives as people with their lives as Rock Stars.  It is a testament to their own strength that none of them are dead and that they live relatively quiet, stable family lives.  But this discontent and disconnect informs the songs.  “Walk On” is one of the best examples of this.  On the surface it is about precisely how the soul copes in an increasingly hopeless world.  The opening is spoken, “Love is not the easy thing, the only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind,” reminding you very concisely that love is difficult and that you cannot escape who you are.  The singer is clearly entreating someone to keep going in the face of an unnamed trouble:  “And I know it aches, and your heart it breaks, you can only take so much.  Walk on.”

There’s many undercurrents to “Walk On.”  The unnamed trouble can be read as the troubles of the world.  It could be an older person reminding a younger generation to stay engaged.  It could be a father begging his children to stay true to their hearts.  It could be a middle-aged rock star trying to remember why he’s still singing for his supper this late in the game.  Most of the time, life is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes, it is a rock around your neck dragging you to the bottom of the sea.  Sometimes taking that next step might seem impossible, but you can keep walking.  “All that you measure, all that you feel, all this you can leave behind.”  Burdens can be set down, baggage can be unpacked (or better yet, left at the airport).  Hearts and minds can be changed.  It’s just a matter of doing it.  Which can be the hardest step to take.  Lao Tzu said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

So walk on.