Friday, 27 February 2009

U2: Rejecting the Death Cult

I wrote a chapter in I Shot a Man in Reno called Appetite for Self-Destruction: Oblivion Songs, which looked at our deep rooted desire to see our rock stars sacrifice themselves, and the tiresome willingness of many of them to oblige. I was interested watching the BBC's Culture Show special on U2 the other night, to see how Bono articulated his thoughts about this strain of rock's DNA:

“One of the things we like about rock and roll is this religiosity, and genuinely people do want you to die on a cross aged 33 with a Jack Daniels in your hand," he said. "It’s a death cult, and to give in to is to be made beautiful by it. ‘At least choke on your vomit, one of you!’ But we haven’t. We haven’t played that game. Our job is to derail a mythology that isn’t helpful to music or musicians.”

Interesting. Of course, one of the reasons people hate U2 is this perceived piety, this dogged refusal to follow the script. However, it's a mindset that allows them at their best - and the new album isn't near their best, but has its moments - to express a complete and pure joy through their music, which is still a real rarity for a rock band. It can't be faked, unlike live-fast-die-young posturing. And I'll take joy, however sporadic, over the join-the-dots, join-the-club orthodoxy of the likes of Primal Scream, any day.

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