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CONFUSED RUSH OF INITIAL NOTES ABT BONO
WRITTEN WHILE FILLED W/ FLU

1)
Essence.
They’re angry but there’s no ANGER in there.
They’re sexy but there’s no SEX in there…
All that remains afterwards is a mild Calvin Klein like
spritz in the air … PASSION by U2. Or rather,
“PASSION”. Or “Politics”.
(With no interruption from the Real.)

MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES.
Music w/ qualities?
(See Sloterdijk; Brecht; Lacan; Zizek)

Politicos feel safe in his presence – he's not going to do a Morrison on them or anything.
They can get the kudos without having to – [ADD] - he's the West Wing pop star - you wouldn't mind Chloe dating...

Can’t remember a single song since they went "po mo".

Haven’t changed the way music is played.
Haven’t changed “politics” in one single way or bit. Worse – there is a pernicious effect, I estimate. When Bono sez “we make our audience feel powerful, like they’re part of something,” I wince: he’s hit the bull on the arse there. That’s just what I fear: that this U2/Live8 audience goes away slightly teary, slightly glowing, slightly enraged, thinking, YES, everything is GOING TO GET BETTER NOW… because NICE people like us and Bono and that nice Richard Curtis are involved and that’s as far as Bono’s “political” effect goes. They maybe give a yearly sop to Charity. Dibley activism. (The faint smell of religiosity seems to crop up again and again somehow... [DEVELOP])

2)
Earlier this year. An edition of Late Review (which I must admit over the year I found increasingly cringe making until I reached a point I could not sit through it at all), Under review: U2’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (I mean – first things first – just… ick –isn’t that just a sheer last-minute BLAH of a bad title? Doesn’t it sound like the sort of thing Spinal Tap might come up with if they wanted to re-launch as sharing caring new political conscience Tap?) (and by the by, for all his famed impishness et cetera, how many million years would it take U2 to get within even perimeter fence distance of a song as wonderful as Charles Mingus’ “Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me”?) (and isn’t that the problem the crux here – scrub away all the hype and mythology and seduced Interviewers reporting Bono’s every autopilot remark – when it comes down to it – i.e., what we hear – aren’t U2 always going to be 10 parts Lennon to no parts Mingus? – All canonical Imagine and nothing surreal or sinner lady or uncanny?)(and here we would have to CRITICALLY reconsider the whole role of Eno in this – on all sorts of levels – {e.g. I’m sure some people think, well, if B.E. is involved they must have something going for them – but the very fact that even the merest HINT of anything LIKE sonic agitation or difference can only come about via the blatant backroom glitch-for-hire APPLIQUE of Eno – this strikes me as deeply suspect… {I mean – at the very least – shouldn’t they be able to do that shit themselves by now, like Radiohead? not to mention… i mean: you read Eno's wonderful A YEAR diary, and you really warm to the guy on so many levels, but here's one you don't which is: who he works with, what it all amounts to, which is: U2? JAMES!? Is that IT!? What is it you don't work with someone who might know what you're talking about and argue back? And then Eno looks ever so slightly control freak and Management Consultant - and you think of the early Eno quotes about cybernetics and Stafford Beer and you then think about the awfully soiled and dubious history of the relationship between post-Freudian psychology and ADVERTISING and ... and then you see Emma Freud and Mathew Freud running around backstage at Live8 and ...}
Where was I?
Late Review
Paul Morley vs. John Harris.
Now I love Paul like a twin brother I was separated from at birth and wasn’t told I had till 17 years later, and there’s something about Harris that narks and niggles me (I won’t even mention his sarky remarks re Kate Bush where he completely missed the sonic feminine ecriture point) B-U-T… I have to admit, here, I was rooting, actually cheering for Harris here. Paul basically gave his Observer article in miniature spin-doctor sound byte version – barely mentioned the album itself, the music, the songs, just waxed woolly and lyrical and fuzzily abstract about the heroic virtues of U2, the very fact that they were still going and still had dignity intact was a huge and staggering VIRTUE IN itself (it’s JUST the way that otherwise sane left wing columnists used to sometimes HYMN the last POPE, coincidentally)… to which, Harris was dry and daggers-drawn stiletto analytical, he took Paul’s fuzzy abstract, and compared it with the Real small print U2 – what the songs actually are, how they sound, what the words are (and how they sound – i.e., like they were slapped together at the last minute, any old fuzzily ambiguous heroic couplet…etc), how the music actually sounds in sonic terms… and drew the only honest conclusion you CAN really draw: U2 – one you clear away all the camo – far from being in any way “radical” are barely interesting on a Radiohead sort of level.
The weird thing was - Paul took it so personally; he’s usually so light and funny on these programmes, but he LOST it here (in both senses). He was eye-ing Harris like: this is MY turf, you shouldn’t… Or maybe: deep down: he was thinking: HE is EXACTLY how I would have been once… arguing in 1981 against an ossified Stones ... I've turned into a Keith Altham for U2 ... (? Sorry. Music biz inside-joke, kids.)

Later in the year: a different programme. BBC arts programme. Paul profiling REM, interviewing Stipe. Roles reversed. As far as REM go, Paul can’t see why they really bother any longer. It’s been so long since they …mattered. Who can sing a memorable REM song, since “Everybody Hurts”? (I mean – you might say the same thing about U2 since – what? “One”?, but no matter.) Stipe is aggrieved. How dare anyone. The point here is that Paul said to Stipe EXACTLY what most of us would say to U2: why not just go and be a film producer or politician? Why bother with the group any longer? There are a 1000 more interesting blooms in the sonic universe.

But Bono has a Lennon/Clinton like hypnosis effect on people: they forget all the looming contradictions, the dull conservative music, the carefully pruned and attended mythic profile, etc, and just fall under the spell / uphold the myth. Any of us who don’t go along with the conjob are accused of lacking, oh I don’t know, something like … PASSION.
There’s a (for me) giveaway quote in the Bono piece where he says:-

{Hah! Just as I left off here to find-the-quote I swear Bono’s PASSION soaked voice echoed out from my TV – oh god no! - the Live8 story.
[Just over five months ago and it’s already – History!
July 2nd 2005.
“…for a few moments in July ... it felt like music could change the world…”

[I broke off here first to scribble all the incriminating quotes from the Live8 docu;
…to be contd]

3)
Bono = father X-mas.
If you BELIEVE he’s radical he is. If you BELIEVE he will bring us our pop-as-passion dreams, he WILL.

Just like the politicos he glad-hands – the Clintons, Pope Smileyface, etc – people think Bono somehow untainted by the muck and stink of the real, or real politics. But there’s a downside to that too.
For if you put a rappers gun to peoples heads and forced them to say WHAT or even IF – a list of all the SMART things he’s said over the years; or the REAL change he has effected; or to whistle the TUNE - any tune -of a U2 hit from last 10 years – yeah go on! Whistle ‘discotheque’ or ‘the fly’! whistle in fact anything except 'she moves in mysterious ways! Or the opening “Hel-lo Hel-lo” of the last one…You see, I wouldn’t mind so much if they could produce halfway decent pop records. But they don’t even do that any more.

Clinton has the same charisma apparently – people say – I was cynical but then we shook hands and Bill turned that killa charm on me and I wuz roadkill… [Again people – esp. democrats/left – were outraged that Hitchens should actually analyse Clinton or Mother Theresa on the same terms as everyone else; because they'd somehow gotten a "pass"... [develop this thought.]

Bono has CHARM in buckets. But can anyone remember ANYTHING smart or funny he's said? (At all at all? In a song...? In passing...?)

And I REALLY don’t think something monolithic and for all intents and purposes EVIL like the Bush administration is going to re-review all its creepy policies just because Bono twinkled for 5 minutes at Commander Coo-Coo Bananas. (Bush isn’t in charge: the corporations are. The same UNIVERSAL corporations that Bono works for and gives a good face to...)

Bono exemplifies: If you’re On the big stage: then you might as well meet the BIG PEOPLE.
BUT THIS JUST UPHOLDS THE WHOLE STAGE/AUDIENCE or people/politics seperation.. Whereas something like the civic togetherness and agitation of the street protests…

Shit. I’m too tired to take this where I want it to go. Maybe after Xmas…

posted by Ian 12/22/2005 11:26:00 AM

Comments:
do it!

nb -- i saw the john harris/morley thing. they've confronted each other on that show since and it is really awkward. harris gave a fair (ir critical) review of 'words and music' in the new statesman, might be one reason. john harris is not the enemy.

--'90s nme reader
 
Why does what Paul think about U2 matter to me/you/anybody?
Fuck knows, but it does.
The Bono blindspot wrankles.
Nice to see you cramming more ideas into a single paragraph than Paul managed to get into his entire, seemingly endless, piece.
Now just get on the bloody Late Review and inject a few of them there. It badly needs new blood so spill.
 
Why does what Paul think about U2 matter to me/you/anybody?
Fuck knows, but it does.
The Bono blindspot wrankles.
Nice to see you cramming more ideas into a single paragraph than Paul managed to get into his entire, seemingly endless, piece.
Now just get on the bloody Late Review and inject a few of them there. It badly needs new blood so spill.
 
you r spot on about the atomic bomb shite..."beautiful day" from all that u can't leave behind is one helluva pop song, tho. frenetic and anthemic and very "whistleable" if that's the litmus. i guess The Edge went back to sleep again after recording that one.

there has always been something vaguely fascist about their live shows, even back when they were irish.
 
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