U2 is admirable as hell, they’ve released some of the greatest songs in (modern) rock history, and they still give a shit about putting out new music that tests their own limits. They’re arguably music’s best, most dedicated stab at “biggest band on Earth.” However, their career is nearly four decades old, and, well, I’m trying to put a finger on what exactly U2 means and what exactly U2 is doing in the contemporary moment.
I still want you to be reading my somewhat burgeoning music blog. Check me out, friends!
If my life had a opening credits sequence, it would very simply be a montage of me doing mundane things (i.e. checking Facebook, doing my hair, buying coffee, riding the T, paying the delivery guy for my Japanese food, texting, making my bed/arranging throw pillows) ALL set to “Freakum Dress.”
I had an extremely slow-dawning insight about creation. That insight is that context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually the opposite of conventional wisdom, which maintains that creation emerges out of some interior emotion, from an upwelling of passion or feeling, and that the creative urge will brook no accommodation, that it simply must find an outlet to be heard, read, or seen. The accepted narrative suggests that a classical composer gets a strange look in his or her eye and begins furiously scribbling a fully realized composition that couldn’t exist in any other form. Or that the rock-and-roll singer is driven by desires and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song that had to be three minutes and twelve seconds — nothing more, nothing less. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to b, but I think the path of creation is almost 180º from this model. I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to fit preexisting formats.
Of course, passion can still be present. Just because the form that one’s work will take is predetermined and opportunistic (meaning one makes something because the opportunity is there), it doesn’t mean that creation must be cold, mechanical, and heartless. Dark and emotional materials usually find a way in, and the tailoring process — form being tailored to fit a given context — is largely unconscious, instinctive. We usually don’t even notice it. Opportunity and availability are often the mother of invention. The emotional story — ‘something to get off my chest’ — still gets told, but its form is guided by prior contextual restrictions. I’m proposing that this is not entirely the bad thing one might expect it to be. Thank goodness, for example, that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we make something.
Ezra Koenig: It’s a natural feeling, a lot of people remain confused by it, probably up until the point where they die. Those questions don’t go away, especially questions about purpose. Are you living the right kind of life? Are you doing what’s best for you? Those are questions people wrestle with forever.
Earlier in our visit he had the radio on and it was playing some truly shitty American pop-punk-pop. Monica was like “Grandpa, you like this?” He said, “I like what I have. I’m happy. If you worry and criticize everything you’ll never be happy…”
I really respect his attitude about music. I can’t imagine my Grandma vibing out to some pop-punk or New Age. Maybe I should ask her… The key point is that the man is still listening to music at the age of 80. Also, he is not a hater. I don’t know if I can escape from the Wheel of Life at this stage in the game, but I can do my best to follow Balram’s (that’s his name) example and not be a hater.
I can try and be happy and find the life in all the music I think is crappy. See what a hippie I am?
Charles Isherwood, NY Times: “Rapture, Blister, Burn kicked off what must be regarded as one of the finest years in the history of Playwrights Horizons under the artistic director Tim Sanford. Since Rapture opened last summer, the company hasn’t put a foot wrong.”