Tuesday, December 31, 2013
|U2 (Adam Clayton, left, the Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Bono) will receive the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival's Sonny Bono Visionary Award. (Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times / December 29, 2013)|
The members of U2 — Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. — are the recipients of the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival's Sonny Bono Visionary Award. The group will be present to accept the honor named after the founder of the film festival at the awards gala Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center, a spokesman for the event said.
The film festival runs Friday through Jan. 14.
"We normally present the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to a director, but for the 25th anniversary we wanted to take the occasion to celebrate U2, a visionary group and the world's premier rock band, for their unparalleled humanitarian work against extreme poverty, disease and social injustice," said festival chairman Harold Matzner in a statement.
U2 has been nominated for a Golden Globe and a Critics' Choice Movie Award for the song "Ordinary Love" from the film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." U2 earned an Oscar nomination for the tune "The Hands That Built America" from Martin Scorsese's 2002 drama, "Gangs of New York."
Palm Springs honorees will include Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep.
Monday, December 30, 2013
'Ordinary Love' - New Video by Oliver Jeffers & Mac Premo
A couple of weeks back the band dropped by the New York studios of Oliver Jeffers and Mac Premo, the creative duo behind the 'Ordinary Love' lyric video.
Oliver and Mac have now come up with a new cut of the video, designed to accompany the Paul Epworth version of the song.
With 'Mandela:Long Walk To Freedom' opening all around the world, this seemed like the perfect moment to share this latest visual take of 'Ordinary Love' .
A couple of weeks back the band dropped by the New York studios of Oliver Jeffers and Mac Premo, the creative duo behind the 'Ordinary Love' lyric video.
Oliver and Mac have now come up with a new cut of the video, designed to accompany the Paul Epworth version of the song.
With 'Mandela:Long Walk To Freedom' opening all around the world, this seemed like the perfect moment to share this latest visual take of 'Ordinary Love' .
More pics from the video, here.
U2 are to go back to their spiritual home by returning to the record label that discovered them in the 1970s.
The band left Island Records more than seven years ago, unhappy with the way they were being treated.
But the Irish quartet are now planning their return to the label for a new album next year.
U2 had a long and celebrated association with Island - which has also been home to acts such as Bob Marley, Grace Jones and Tom Waits - after being signed in the late 1970s.
But the relationship soured after label boss Jason Iley was moved to sister label Mercury and, unhappy with the lack of personal involvement from his successor, the group left the company to follow their former boss.
Earlier this year the parent company Universal closed down Mercury, moving many of the acts to a new company, Virgin/EMI, although a question mark remained over where U2 would end up, with the band and record labels remaining silent on what would happen.
But a source has confirmed the band will head back to Island, which has had a change of management since their departure. "They are going back to their spiritual home," the source said.
U2 displayed their affection for the label by continuing to include its logo on their releases even though they had headed to Mercury.
The band are understood to have already visited the label to meet some staff.
A spokeswoman for Universal said there was "nothing to report", and a spokesman for Island did not respond.
U2 recently split from their long-time manager Paul McGuinness, moving instead to work with Live Nation.
A message on the band's website earlier this month said: "Paul has saved us from ourselves many times over and we would not be U2 without him.
"Sometime soon, U2 will begin a new adventure around the world and we totally understand and respect Paul's desire to not run away with the circus - AGAIN."
The follow-up to 2009's No Line On The Horizon is expected to be released around March.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Bono and his wife Ali Hewson have been enjoying a day at the races, as is their annual festive tradition.
The pair showed off their generous side when they decided to treat the Irish press to some St Stephen's Day bubbles.
Bono looked in a great mood as he handed out the fizz and chatted to fans and photographers.
On Christmas Eve, the star also showed his generous side by busking on Dublin's Grafton street in aid of the homeless charity Simon Community and the Peter McVerry Trust.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
For the fifth time Bono joined Glen Hansard , Damien Rice and other local artists to sing in Grafton Street for charity at Christmas Eve. This time they sang "Merry Xmas Everybody"and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful"
Update: Official video of Bono busking in Grafton St at Christmas Eve:
Update: Official video of Bono busking in Grafton St at Christmas Eve:
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
U2 looks to Nelson Mandela for inspiration for its 'Ordinary Love' on the soundtrack of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,' and the collision of youth and hard-earned wisdom on its upcoming album.
NEW YORK — Bono took a look around the cluttered recording studio, filled with Coke bottles and laptops and vinyl records, and turned to a reporter.
'I'm not sure where we put the crack pipe," he deadpanned, pretending to riffle around a coffee table as he also poked at the band's workaholic image. "We usually leave it out for guests."
A moment later the U2 frontman had cranked up a track from the band's work-in-progress April album, an anthemic number about leaving one's hometown titled "Invisible." As the song played, he spiritedly played air guitar to it, also belting along with the track's vocals, so that, in effect, Bono was performing a duet with himself.
The 53-year-old rock star's self-mocking turn is enjoyably at odds with his self-serious public image, a sign of an icon who knows when not to be iconic. But similarly surprising is his approach to the music, a kind of boyish giddiness suggesting that, even after 12 studio albums and thousands of shows, that's really what matters, perhaps more now than in a long while.
After years of being known as much for activism as rock 'n' roll — the day after the studio session, Nelson Mandela will have passed away, and an essay from Bono recollecting his impressions of the South African leader and friend will have materialized on Time.com — U2 had perhaps its most commercially disappointing album in decades with 2009's "No Line on the Horizon." They also worked on some aborted projects that led to just one new studio album in the past nine years. So now they're shaking things up.
The band, which of course also includes guitarist Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., came up with the concept of a collection of songs told partly from the perspective of an innocent and partly from a seasoned veteran. And they brought on the electronic dance music producer Danger Mouse to help them craft it.
Told that some fans were still puzzling over how that collaboration would work, Edge, 52, laughed. "I think we're still figuring that out ourselves," he said.
On this December evening the band moved between studio rooms. In one, engineers tried different mixes as Bono sang along and gave notes in equal proportion. In another, Mullen, Edge and several others were tinkering with some rhythms. "You're seeing a little bit of creativity as it happens," Mullen said. "Like penguins in the wild."
But the first salvo in the Irish megagroup's latest musical phase has already happened. U2 recently released its first new song in nearly three years, "Ordinary Love," an ode to Nelson and Winnie Mandela that appears on the soundtrack to Justin Chadwick's newly released biopic, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." The song was nominated for a Golden Globe last week and is likely to get an Oscar nod next month.
"Ordinary Love" is a throwback, mid-tempo number that would not have been out of place on one of the band's 1980s albums, and a song that walks the line, as it has for U2 so many times before, between the personal and the political. "We can't fall any further if we can't feel ordinary love," it goes, narrating the tremulous relationships both among a citizenry and its symbolic First Family.
"It's a plea for common decency among the people who've been oppressed," Bono said at dinner earlier in the evening. "And it's a plea for common decency in a marriage as it starts to fall apart."
U2 hoped to portray the complexity of the Mandela relationship, according to Chadwick, who called it "a film that deals with apartheid but is really about love."
The film's producer, longtime Mandela friend Anant Singh, sent Bono love letters that Nelson Mandela wrote to his wife from his prison cell on Robben Island, and the band set about turning its poetry into lyrics.
"We thought it should be a love song, a very human song. Not epic, not earnest in dealing with world-changing political shifts," Edge said, "but personal in two people trying to hold on to one another in the face of dreadful mistreatment and heartbreak."
Mandela was a huge influence on the members of U2, who played early anti-apartheid shows. Bono and Edge said that, though it was his political leadership that the world knew Mandela for, in person it was Mandela's dry wit that would win you over.
"He would always turn on the humor, mock you a little and then mock himself. Mostly himself," Bono said.
And if he wanted the rock star to undertake a cause, he would convince him in an unconventional way — with a little reverse psychology.
"He'd say 'You shouldn't do this; it's a complete waste of your time,'" Bono recalled, rendering a spot-on impression of the South African icon's mellifluous, halting speech pattern. "'A man like you, with such responsibilities? Why would you want to be at a concert to celebrate an old man like me?'" Bono laughed. "And suddenly you were putty in his hands."
Added Edge: "That's his philosophy of dealing with the world."
It's a similar approach for the band these days. A natural extrovert, Bono in person comes off as much as a comic presence as an activist. "If you have any sense as a band that you could be not just a sop but a salve, you have a moral duty to respond," he said, when asked if the group's activist reputation ever grew burdensome. "And that," he added, with a poker face, "can make you a total pain in the" butt.
He also quipped to Edge: "The whole thing about being in a band is like being on an oil rig. Just a lot of men. We really need to change that."
Edge, in his trademark knit hat and biker-esque facial hair, volleyed back, "I told you we should have had a girl drummer."
Dressed in a green military cap, black jeans and several layers to ward off the New York chill, Bono was standing in a soundproof room filled with engineers. Every once in a while someone handed him a microphone. Bono reaches for a microphone the way a baby reaches for a lollipop, with the easy sense he knows exactly what to do with it. Barely pausing his conversation with a reporter, he began singing, rocking slowly back and forth as his facial muscles clenched. Then in a musician equivalent of a no-look pass, he handed back the mike to an engineer as he continued bantering with a reporter.
"Not to sound pretentious—not that it’s ever stopped us before,” he said as he described the new record.
Oh yes, about that record. From the few tracks heard that night, it has traces of the Clash and Sex Pistols and Kraftwerk — "stuff we were really listening to when we were younger," said Bono. But it also comes laden with soul and old-school R&B, genres the singer said he and friends were listening to in the 1970s, only "once punk came along, no one admitted it." It, too, walks the line between the political and the personal, with one song title connoting a difficult period but really referring to a personal trauma.
Thematically, the album will center on the collision between hard-earned wisdom and youthful hunger. For present-day U2 — sometimes branching out in new directions even as it so often returns to its roots, and still vital even as it stands just a few years shy of its 40th anniversary — that tension couldn't be more fitting.
The band has reportedly been entertaining corporate suitors for a Super Bowl ad to introduce the new record. But Bono waved aside a question about those plans. There's still work to be done, an album to fine tune, all-night sessions that mean dinners eaten directly off sound boards.
So engineers continued to tinker with Bono's vocal chord-straining falsetto, the sound that has defined him and U2 as far back as albums like "War" and "The Unforgettable Fire." "There's just something about a bloke who sings like a chick," Bono cracked to a reporter. And then practically in the same motion, he turned, took the mike and unleashed another one of those vocals.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) has announced the nominees for The 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. The winners will be announced live at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards ceremony on Thursday, January 16, 2014 from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. Among the nominees for best song is "Ordinary Love – U2 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom".
The U2 song has also been nominated for the Oscars in its 86th Academy Awards.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Bono was in South Africa this week, to join those paying tribute to Nelson Mandela at Tuesday's memorial service.
'In Ireland,' he says, 'A wake is never without humour but it's fair to say we lean heavily on the melancholy… one thing I love about Africa is they accompany the departed with dancing, lots of it, and music full of joy.'
On Thursday, 'Ordinary Love', the song the band wrote for 'Mandela:Long Walk To Freedom', was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and today the band wanted to share Paul Epworth's new version.
'We think Paul Epworth's mix is a very soulful, uplifting one and we hope our audience will agree,' says Bono. 'Nelson Mandela's life and times meant more to me than I can ever tell you, I would need a hundred songs to do that… but this complicated little love song to Winnie and South Africa is the one that landed on our lap.
'I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for believing in us and the film. This is truly a great honour.'
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Bono and wife Ali Hewson were among mourners that filed past the body of Nelson Mandela, as he lies in state for three days.
Dressed in all black, The U2 singer was pictured holding the hands of his wife Ali and also of Zelda le Grange, the former assistant to Mr Mandela, as they walked past the casket of the former South African president.
Mandela’s coffin is currently outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria where it will lie in state for three days.
The coffin lay within a temporary mahogany structure in the open-air amphitheater with his head and shoulders visible behind a glass cover.
The first to file past his body were South African President Jacob Zuma, Mandela's wife Graca Machel and former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, the nation's last white leader who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela.
"I want my child to know Mandela has fought for her," Cynthia Shipalana, 27, said as she waited in line with her six- year-old daughter. "She should see him and tell her grandchildren about this day."
The government expects as many as 2,000 people an hour to file past Mandela's casket.
His body will be transported on Dec. 14 to Qunu, the village where he spent part of his childhood in the Eastern Cape Province, before his funeral the next day.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Bono in an interview with Anderson Cooper describes Nelson Mandela as a “lesson in humility”.
He also talks about Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “The Arch”.
He also talks about Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “The Arch”.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Saturday, December 7, 2013
'This week U2 finalised and signed a new management contract with Live Nation and Guy Oseary.
The band now want to publicly thank Paul McGuinness for his extraordinary leadership, guidance and friendship over the last 35 years.
Paul has saved us from ourselves many times over and we would not be U2 without him.
Sometime soon, U2 will begin a new adventure around the world and we totally understand and respect Paul's desire to not run away with the circus – AGAIN.
Perhaps more than any music management operation in history, Paul, alongside Trevor, Keryn and the team at Principle Management has always fought for our rights, for our music, for our fans and for the principles that we and he believe in. His central lesson was that if you cared for your "art", you must also "take care of business" as historically with rock and roll bands, the latter has undone the former.
We are relieved he will remain on as the mentor-in-chief.
We've known Guy for a long, long time, and we're excited that with Paul's blessing he's agreed to take us on. He is a brilliant man with a lot of energy, and knows he has got some big shoes to fill.'
Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela ("Madiba" or "Tata") passed away this 5th December in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bono remembers Nelson Mandela.
"It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience. In the end, Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job. Mandela played with the highest stakes. He put his family, his country, his time, his life on the line, and he won most of these contests. Stubborn til the end for all the right reasons, it felt like he very nearly outstared his maker. Today, finally, he blinked. And some of us cry, knowing our eyes were opened to so much because of him."
As an activist I have pretty much been doing what Nelson Mandela tells me since I was a teenager. He has been a forceful presence in my life going back to 1979, when U2 made its first anti-apartheid effort. And he’s been a big part of the Irish consciousness even longer than that. Irish people related all too easily to the subjugation of ethnic majorities. From our point of view, the question as to how bloody South Africa would have to get on its long road to freedom was not abstract.
Over the years we became friends. I, like everyone else, was mesmerized by his deft maneuvering as leader of South Africa. His cabinet appointments of Trevor Manuel and Kadar Asmal were intuitive and ballsy. His partnership with Sowetan neighbor Desmond Tutu brought me untold joy. This double act—and before long a triple act that included Mandela’s wife, the bold and beautiful Graca Machel—took the success of the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa and widened the scope to include the battle against AIDS and the broader reach for dignity by the poorest peoples on the planet.
Mandela saw extreme poverty as a manifestation of the same struggle. “Millions of people … are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free,” he said in 2005. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome … Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.” It certainly fell to Mandela to be great. His role in the movement against extreme poverty was critical. He worked for a deeper debt cancellation, for a doubling of international assistance across sub-Saharan Africa, for trade and private investment and transparency to fight corruption. Without his leadership, would the world over the past decade have increased the number of people on AIDS medication to 9.7 million and decreased child deaths by 2.7 million a year? Without Mandela, would Africa be experiencing its best decade of growth and poverty reduction? His indispensability can’t be proved with math and metrics, but I know what I believe …
Mandela would be remembered as a remarkable man just for what happened—and didn’t happen—in South Africa’s transition. But more than anyone, it was he who rebooted the idea of Africa from a continent in chaos to a much more romantic view, one in keeping with the majesty of the landscape and the nobility of even its poorer inhabitants. He was also a hardheaded realist, as his economic policy demonstrated. To him, principles and pragmatism were not foes; they went hand in hand. He was an idealist without -naiveté, a compromiser without being compromised.
Surely the refrain “Africa rising” should be attributed to Madiba—the clan name everyone knows him by. He never doubted that his continent would triumph in the 21st century: “We are not just the peoples with the oldest history,” he told me. “We have the brightest future.” He knew Africa was rich with oil, gas, minerals, land and, above all, people. But he also knew that “because of our colonial past, Africans still don’t quite believe these precious things belong to them.” Laughing, he added, “They can find enough people north of the equator who agree with them.”
He had humor and humility in his bearing, and he was smarter and funnier than the parade of world leaders who flocked to see him. He would bait his guests: “What would a powerful man like you want with an old revolutionary like me?”
He could charm the birds off the trees—and cash right out of wallets. He told me once how Margaret Thatcher had personally donated £20,000 to his foundation. “How did you do that?” I gasped. The Iron Lady, who was famously frugal, kept a tight grip on her purse. “I asked,” he said with a laugh. “You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask.” Then he lowered his voice conspiratorially and said her donation had nauseated some of his cohorts. “Didn’t she try to squash our movement?” they complained. His response: “Didn’t De Klerk crush our people like flies? And I’m having tea with him next week … He’ll be getting the bill.” (On other occasions, I heard Mandela praise the courage of F.W. de Klerk, the last President of apartheid South Africa, who had his own prison to escape: the prejudice of his upbringing. We should not forget his role in this historic drama).
Mandela lived a life without sanctimony. You try it; it’s not easy. His lack of piety helped him turn former foes into friends. In 1985, U2 and Bruce Springsteen responded to Steve Van Zandt’s call to lend our voices to an artists-against-apartheid recording titled “Sun City.” Sun City had been set up on the border of Botswana to bypass the cultural boycott of South Africa. Sol Kerzner’s casino there had become a pretty busy venue. Years later, when I chastised the music producer Quincy Jones about his friendship with Kerzner, Quincy replied, “Man, you know nothing about Mandela, do you? He wasn’t out of jail seven days before he called Sol Kerzner. Since then, Sol has been one of the largest contributors to the [African National Congress].” I felt like one of those Japanese soldiers who came out of the jungle in the 1950s still fighting World War II.
Laughter, not tears, was Madiba’s preferred way—-except on one occasion when I saw him almost choke up. It was on Robben Island, in the courtyard outside the cell in which he had spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. He was explaining why he’d decided to use his inmate’s number, 46664, to rally a response to the AIDS pandemic claiming so many African lives. One of his cellmates told me that the price Mandela paid for working in the limestone mine was not bitterness or even the blindness that can result from being around the bright white reflection day after day. Mandela could still see, but the dust damage to his tear ducts had left him unable to cry. For all this man’s farsightedness and vision, he could not produce tears in a moment of self-doubt or grief.
He had surgery in 1994 to put this right. Now, he could cry.
Today, we can.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
"The Joshua Tree" by U2 is among among this year's inductees into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Recording Academy has announced.
The Recording Academy head Neil Portnow said in a statement, "Memorable and inspiring, these recordings are proudly added to our growing catalog — knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social, and cultural history."
The nominations for the 56th annual Grammy Awards will be announced on December 6 at 10 p.m. EST as part of the The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown to Music's Biggest Night telecast airing on CBS. The 56th annual Grammys will be broadcast live on CBS on January 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. EST from L.A.'s Staples Center.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
By DAVID FRICKE
U2's return starts like funky church–synth-choir hosanna and the gentle hammering of electric piano – and rolls with steady, compelling restraint. Bono fires a few bolts of falsetto in the chorus, and the Edge's terse guitar break suggests the ring of a wounded church bell. But "Ordinary Love" is about the seeds of dreams, and U2 play it perfectly: down-to-earth, while looking up.
Monday, December 2, 2013
This week’s Sunday Spotlight gives the stage to U2 frontman Bono, who has been a leader in the global fight against AIDS for more than a decade. Helping “This Week” mark World AIDS Day, Bono sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to talk about the dramatic turnaround in the battle against a virus that has killed more than 25 million worldwide since 1981.
Antiretroviral drugs, once unaffordable to the majority of people affected by HIV/AIDS, are now significantly more accessible.
“They used to cost a fortune, you know, ten grand a year. It’s down to 40 cents a day for one pill,” Bono said. “I remember being in Malawi, in Lilongwe, where there was four to a bed, queuing up to be diagnosed. But the diagnosis was a death sentence because there was no treatment. They had the medication. But they couldn’t give it to them. They couldn’t afford it.”
Bono, who is co-founder of ONE and the (RED) Campaign, said a person’s ability to access antiretroviral drugs was an “accident of where you live.” Unequal accessibility to HIV/AIDS treatment, often exacerbated by political or corporate interests, made Bono “ready to put his life on the line” for the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“It actually really was an assault on my whole idea of equality. And so the charity bit went out the window for me. It became a justice issue,” he said. “We can’t have these technologies, simple, cheap and be denying them to others.”
But changes are happening now, he said. And though Bono recognizes there are still obstacles, he says there is an end in sight.
“There does seem to be the political will. The American people have said that this fight against HIV/AIDS, this tiny, little virus that’s wreaked so much havoc in so many people’s lives…they got it in their sights. They want to see it done. And that is so inspiring to me,” he said.
This year, Congress reauthorized PEPFAR, a program started by President George W. Bush, which has dedicated billions of dollars to the fight against AIDS.
“We argued with President Bush about setting up PEPFAR,” Bono said. “We thought, ‘Why not just stick with The Global Fund‘, which is the multilateral mechanism.”
But President Bush, Bono said, wanted a uniquely American organization so the government could “keep an eye on it” and do it “properly.”
Political interests are coming together this Tuesday at The Global Fund’s Conference, which the U.S. government is hosting.
“Even though originally Republicans historically supported PEPFAR, and Democrats The Global Fund, that has changed,” Bono said. “This is incredible. This is what happens when people put their ego and political point-scoring away for a bigger purpose and they stop playing politics with the poor.”
These organizations are seeing great results – but Bono’s main concern is complacency.
“There’s a chance of having the first AIDS-free generation by 2015, 2016. We can see it. We could lose that if we lose the political will,” he said. “I would just say to people, ‘Hold on tight to this one.’”
Visit World AIDS Day’s website to learn more about supporting the cause.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Ireland and South Africa came together when the biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” held a screening at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City co-hosted by the Irish rock band U2. Among the notable people in attendance were Idris Elba (who stars as South African leader Nelson Mandela), Naomie Harris (who plays his wife Winnie), producer Harvey Weinstein (a co-host of the evening), Vogue editor Anna Wintour (another co-host), and U2 members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr.
Speakeasy talked to U2 shortly before the screening about the song they recorded for “Mandela” titled “Ordinary Love,” and about the group’s coming album. The Edge confirmed that a new U2 album is on the way, but said they had yet to pick a release date. The band’s sessions were interrupted by one of the few things that could have pulled them away–the chance to record a theme song for “Mandela.”
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Paul McGuinness could never break another hit act — and usually the mark of a great manager is the ability to do it more than once. That’s the downfall of the music business: the belief that suits count more than artists.
Credit McGuinness with building U2.
But now’s a good time to get out, because the band is at a crossroads. It took all the money out of the market with a multiyear stadium trek and, without a hit single, it will probably never be able to tour at this scale again.
Hits are what U2 is dependent upon if it wants to keep the mantle of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, which it stole from the Stones decades ago, even if Mick Jagger doesn’t know that.
But rock is dead. At least on Top-40 radio, where hits are made.
What’s a poor boy to do?
Become a venture capitalist, like Bono did with Roger McNamee and Elevation.
Or try and save the world, which Bono is also doing.
But if he wants to stay a relevant musician, that’s a much harder goal to achieve.
But he’s got Guy Oseary in his corner! Oseary becomes the manager of U2 with McGuinness’ sale of Principle Management to Live Nation.
To believe Oseary is a great manager is to think Metallica svengali Cliff Burnstein can front a band, and Irving Azoff can play in the NBA. What Oseary does best is get into the head of Madonna and make her believe he’s indispensable, which he’s not. Madge has had a series of managers since she broke through, even the aforementioned Mr. Burnstein, who helped her stay relevant with “Ray of Light.”
But Madonna’s relevant no more. It pains her, but athletes retire. And in music, the game changes. It’s less about age than fads and desire and other elements elder people just can’t keep up with, and oftentimes look bad trying to. If you’re not willing to admit your age, you’re gonna have a hard time in popular culture.
And so often music is youth culture.
And you can tour to your core, but as you age that core cannot fill stadiums — not usually.
If you know McGuinness, he’s a force of nature. Someone who’s all what he’s promoting, 24/7. It’s not easy to find someone like that, who lives and dies for you. He’s essentially Col. Parker, but with a fairer deal and a worldwide viewpoint.
In other words, no one’s gonna care as much.
So U2 has lost its rudder.
And although Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel is brilliant at what he does — one of the absolute best — U2’s problem is not touring financials so much as creative issues.
Music has always operated best when unrestricted. When those involved were free to reinvent the wheel at their leisure, to test limits, be offensive and charm us all at the same time.
Tying up with Live Nation is no different from selling out to Google or Microsoft. You’ll get paid, but you’ll lose control. Happens every day: The founders get frustrated and leave, and their products often go into decline.
But music is not a mere product. When done right, it’s not evanescent. It pricks our hearts and stimulates our brains and makes us believe life is worth living.
Bono once had that power. He’s sacrificed it. So goodbye ’80s rock. And goodbye ’80s pop, too. We’re in a new era where the most stimulating productions emanate from bedrooms, get traction on YouTube and are shared virally by the general public.
There’s business and there’s music. Business ain’t bad. But music’s in sad shape.
Because everybody’s looking to sell out.
Britain is a nation of happiness and inspiration seekers when it comes to music with a whopping nine out of ten people (95 per cent) boldly claiming that tunes have the power to evoke happy memories. Music's ability to rouse and move also scored similarly highly with 93 per cent of people regarding their favourite song as inspiring.
The research, conducted on behalf of cruise company Royal Caribbean International, also found that we are a nation of passionate music lovers with three-quarters of people (74 per cent) stating that music is important to them. People also agreed that music enhanced memories with over a third (31 per cent) re-living their favourite holiday memories on cue to a particular track.
Broadcaster, Lauren Laverne, said 'I think an anthem should be uplifting, as well as something we can sing along to ' and the choices reflect that brilliantly. We all have a song that captured our hearts and stays with us, so it's great to see a mix of the old and new, with classic Beatles up there alongside Robbie. And I'm delighted the research showed that women love music even more than the men ' banishing the myth that when it comes to rock n roll, boys know best.'
The research coincides with the announcement that new ship, Anthem of the Seas, will become the most entertainment-dedicated and technologically advanced cruise ship ever to be based in the UK when it launches in spring 2015.
As part of the research, music industry expert, author and DJ, Stuart Maconie, selected five anthems ' both recently popular and traditional ' and asked the nation to choose the song that makes them the happiest. The top three tunes ' U2's Beautiful Day with 36 per cent of the vote; the Beatles' Hey Jude with 28 per cent of the vote; and Hubert Parry's Jerusalem with 22 per cent ' reflect the diversity of tunes that reach anthem status.
When choosing an anthem, people were also asked what qualifies a piece of music to become anthemic in status. Music's clear association with optimism was also evident in the results with 44 per cent looking for a song to rouse their spirits, and 23 per cent after a song that brings people together. Just seven per cent of people looked for a tune that they could sing along to, reinforcing that a strong anthem is more than just a catchy song.
Posted by mysteriousways Labels: Albums/songs
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
U2 is one of a couple dozen major artists to contribute a song to Songs For The Philippines, a new charity relief album that's available on iTunes. The 39-track album is selling for $9.99, with all proceeds going to the Philippines Red Cross and its relief efforts after the recent typhoon.
U2's "In A Little While" is the fourth track on the album -- it's the same version of the song that appeared on All That You Can't Leave Behind. Other artists on the album include The Beatles, Eminem, Muse, Adele and too many more to mention.
All four members of U2 were on hand Monday night for a special New York City screening of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the upcoming film that features their new song, "Ordinary Love," on the soundtrack. Bono was among those who spoke inside the theater before the film began.
"Ordinary Love", the song U2 made for the biopic Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, has been released in vinyl by Interscope Records.
Danger Mouse(Brian Burton) appears in the credits as producer of the new song and side B song, "Breathe" is produced by Declan Gaffney.
Both were recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York.
The cover has been made by
Big money was spent and a big collaboration was sung on Saturday night at the (RED) auction at Sotheby's in New York City.
The event, a joint effort between Bono and designers Jony Ive (Apple) and Marc Newson, reportedly raised almost $13 million -- which was apparently then doubled with a donation from Bill Gates. The money will benefit the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa.
Before the auction began, Bono and The Edge took part in a jam session of sorts, performing a cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" with Angelique Kidjo, Nile Rodgers and his band, Chic.
Then, during the auction itself, Bono and Chris Martin did a couple of songs on a piano that was being auctioned. With Martin on the piano bench and Bono standing behind, the pair sung a cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and then did U2's "Beautiful Day."
Bono and The Edge were back on stage with Kidjo and Rodgers during the afterparty, singing Chic's "Good Times" and a cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance."
Sunday, November 17, 2013
This story appears in the December 2, 2013 issue of Forbes.
Forbes: While you two are an odd pairing on paper, I have a theory that you were separated at birth–there are more similarities than you might think.
Forbes: You both played chess growing up. You both started college–neither of you finished it. You both built global businesses. You both were affected deeply by your first trips to Africa–Bono after Live Aid, and Bill before your honeymoon with Melinda on safari–and you both consider Nelson Mandela one of your top heroes.
So given this, Bill, true or false: The first time you had a chance to meet Bono you didn’t really want to because you thought it would be a waste of time?
Bill Gates: Yeah, we have a mutual friend, Paul Allen, and Paul said to me several times, “You know, Bono is really serious about poverty and the stuff you’re working on; you should talk to him.” And I have to admit, I did not make it a priority. And then there was a Davos [meeting] that was in New York after 9/11, so Bono, Bill Clinton and I met, and I was kind of amazed that he actually knew what he was talking about and had a real commitment to making things happen. It was phenomenal. Ever since then we’ve been big partners in crime.
|Bill Gates and Bono at the second annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, United Nations, New York (Credit: Glen Davis)|
Forbes: Bono, you’ve said that you’ve learned a lot from Bill. What has he taught you, and why did you seek him out?
Bono: Before I tell you what I learned from Bill, I’ll tell you what I taught him. It’s an interesting story about not judging your friends. I said to Paul Allen, “Would you help me get to Bill Gates? Because we really need to professionalize our operation, and we need funding, and I know that he’s interested in the same things that we are, and Melinda, too.” Paul’s a kind of shy guy, but he usually answers my e-mails, and he stopped answering them. Actually, I got a little cross with Paul, and I said, “Well, that’s not very nice.” This is the one thing I’ve ever asked him to do.
I had no idea, of course, that he’d been asking Bill, but Bill was actually like, “No, I don’t want to meet him! It’s Sonny Bono, or whatever.”
I went up to see Bill and Melinda, and I said, “Look, we have an organization, and we’ve got very, very smart people. Brilliant people. But we need to professionalize.” President Bush had taken over the White House. Our rather relaxed attire going into Bill Clinton’s White House we felt was no longer appropriate, and we really needed to be more formal. So we got a million dollars from Bill [Gates]. And then he later told the New York Times or somebody that that was the best million dollars he ever spent. That’s a great compliment, coming from Bill Gates, and it makes funding a lot easier.
But what was shocking for me as an activist was to learn how important the role of commerce was in ending extreme poverty and the role that entrepreneurial capitalism has played in taking people out of extreme poverty. Right now capitalism is in the dark. It’s on trial. There’s a sense of the “us” and “them,” the 99%, the 1%, those who’ve gamed the situation, those who’ve been screwed by the situation. Some of these accusations, of course, are ridiculously far-fetched. But some of them are not. It’s critical that [entrepreneurial philanthropy] somehow coheres in the 21st century into a new sort of shape and form. What I learned from Bill and Melinda is that it wasn’t just going to be their cash that would be put to work but that the most important thing that they would contribute would be their brainpower.
Forbes: Bono, I believe you have called yourself an “adventure capitalist.” Maybe talk a little about RED, where you’re taking your advocacy and tying it into commerce to promote change and raise a tremendous amount of money.
Bono: I remember going to see Bob Rubin just after he left being Treasury Secretary. We asked him his advice on tackling HIV/ AIDS. And he said, “You know, if you want to move the dial on this, you’ve got to go about it like Nike almost. You’ve got to explain to, say, America the scale of the problem and how the problem can be solved. And you’ll probably have to spend $50 million doing that, the same way Nike spent marketing their ideas.” I said, “Bob, where do we get $50 million?” He said, “That’s your problem!”
We formed RED. And now RED, with the help of the Gates Foundation–by the way I couldn’t do anything I do without the Gates Foundation–was an attempt to sort of piggyback the great companies like Apple or Microsoft, Armani, the fashion company, Starbucks. At the French Open all the great tennis players came out with their red tennis rackets, because the Head company has gone RED. So we use RED not just to raise the… I think it’s $207 million we have raised so far to buy AIDS drugs for those people who can’t afford them–but to create heat and excitement around the issue of solving the problem. When lawmakers met in Congress in difficult times they would feel heat. We used to get this thing up on the Hill here in the U.S., and [they weren't] feeling that one, that AIDS emergency. So we wanted to be in shopping malls, where they would feel it. When they walked down the street and saw a Gap T-shirt, they’d feel it. When it comes to appropriations–and this year was a struggle to get funding for the Global Fund [which provides money to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria]–the heat is very important. That’s what RED does. It creates heat, so that when the other organization, ONE, can actually go in Berlin, in France, in Paris, in London, we go after the big government budgets and tackle it that way.
Forbes: Bono is the activist who’s become a capitalist. Bill, you’re one of the alltime capitalists and philanthropists who’s now had to increase how much you work with governments. Can entrepreneurial philanthropy and activism be practiced purely, or do they inherently need to be merged?
Gates: I think the key to all philanthropy is how you unlock the much larger sectors–the government sector and the business sector. Say you have a goal, like reducing the number of children under 5 who die every year. The direct philanthropy in terms of inventing vaccines, buying vaccines, getting them delivered, isn’t really going to make a big dent in that problem. Unless you get the brilliant minds of the pharmaceutical companies engaged in the invention, unless you get the government aid budgets from the generous rich countries engaged, and unless you get the people on the ground–which in many cases are working with the developing country and how they train and manage all these primary health care workers. Unless you’re deeply engaged with that, you’re probably not going to have a big impact.
There are pieces, like some of the research, like the malaria vaccine piece, where philanthropy actually can fund a very substantial, even the majority of that. But when you get into the delivery mode, the $130 billion a year of government aid budgets focused on these poor countries, making sure that gets used the right way, that it’s not being cut because of budget problems and that you’re drawing in the power of the private sector that’s developing these countries–that’s part of how you’re going to win and get that number to drop in half in the next 15 years.
Forbes: Corruption is such a big part of it. How do you make sure that the money you put into these countries isn’t just propping up bad governments?
Gates: Well, it depends on how measurable the sector you’re operating in is. In the case of health, figuring out how many people survived by getting HIV drugs is pretty straightforward. Figuring out your vaccine coverage that reduces measles, that’s down from over a million a year to $300,000 a year. That is one of the most straightforward things. And because you buy the vaccines and ship them into the country, you know you’re controlling that procurement piece–you have a little bit of training money, a little bit of labor money, maybe a few percent of that can go astray.
But it’s not like building a road, when you send money to the government and no road shows up, or you know you’re paying twice as much for it. The health and agricultural sectors, which are very critical to the poorest–getting the health right, the nutrition right–those things actually you can operate in a mode where at most corruption would be 5%, and if you can’t withstand a few percent, like someone who came to the training session, then you’re an idealist who really doesn’t belong in the game of helping poor countries.
Bono: There’s a cure for that disease of corruption. There’s a vaccine, at least. We call it transparency. One of the things we’ve been working on in the ONE Campaign, and have been working on with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates, is a revolution. A transparency revolution. This wave of transparency is coming through all manners of commerce, just bringing daylight so that people can see what’s going on in those transactions and judge for themselves if their governments are dealing with them fairly.
Forbes: Hand in hand with transparency, of course, are numbers. Bono, you recently have come out of the closet: You’ve admitted you’re a numbers geek. Talk a bit about “factivism.”
Bono: Well, that’s just me pretending to be Bill. I’m Irish; we do emotion very well. You’re just experiencing some of it, and it can go on and on and on! I’ve learned to be an evidence-based activist, to cut through the crap, find out what works and find out what doesn’t work. Repeat what works, increase it and stop doing what doesn’t work. I don’t come from a hippie tradition of let’s-all-hold-hands and the world’s going to be a better place. My thing’s much more punk rock.
I enjoy the math, actually. The math is incredible! I was telling people recently there are 9 million people on AIDS medication. In 2003 there was 50,000. This is the most extraordinary thing. I just want to give thanks to the taxpayers who are paying for that. Because this is a remarkable thing. Numbers work. In the last ten years infant mortality is down. I think it’s 7,256 less deaths a day. That’s down from 9.4 million to 7.2, something like that. I love these numbers. These are sexy numbers. They rhyme somewhere in my head.
Forbes: Okay, so based on numbers and data, what’s the biggest course change either of you made?
Gates: You’re always learning–field visits, meeting with scientists, looking at the numbers; it’s a collage of those things that come together. For our health work, it’s been figuring out how primary health care systems can be really well run–and that gets you the vaccine coverage, it teaches the mother about things to do before birth and after birth, the nutrition things, the reproductive health supplies. It’s amazing how some countries spend very little on their primary health care system and they get 95% of the kids vaccinated, and some spend a lot more and get 30% vaccinated. So the importance of personnel systems and helping get those right, the measurement, training, hiring.
In our U.S. education work, it’s been the most dramatic where we’ve been focused on school structure in the first four years and not so much on helping the teachers learn from the very, very good teachers. And that shifted around, because we saw about 10% or 15% improvements with the thing we called the small schools initiative–that just wasn’t going to be enough. So we got very focused on how do teachers get feedback, what are the exemplars doing right, can you help people improve–essentially, their personnel system and not just the compensation piece, because that turns out to be secondary to the idea of professional development, analysis and measurement. It’s kind of obvious at this point, but it took a lot of time and money to have that be a primary model that we apply.
Bono: Applying transparency to development, actually, was a big lesson for us. It’s strange, but the two parties most important in the transaction that we call development assistance are the two sides of the equation who know the least about it. The taxpayer and the child who’s been vaccinated or the student who sits in a class. That has got to change. And I think it will be wonderful when it does.
I remember, for instance, we worked on debt cancelation, and we were in a ghetto outside of Accra. There were no latrines for, whatever it was, 80,000 people living there. And years later, after fighting for debt cancelation and having this money well spent by the Ghanaian government, I saw the latrines! I was like, “Wow, I have to use these!” I went in, if you’ll excuse me, and I’m standing there and I look up on the wall, and it says “Paid for by HIPC.” HIPC. What’s HIPC? Well, I’ll tell you what HIPC is. HIPC was the UN’s idea for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. And they were largely leading the vanguard on this debt cancelation. But that was their signage! Does anyone know what that was?
In the Oval Office with President Bush before the AIDS initiative, I remember saying to him, “You can paint those pills red, white and blue if you have to, Mr. President. If you do this, this will be the best advertisement for the United States ever.” And it has been.
Forbes: If this rock thing doesn’t work out, I’m sure K Street has a job for you. I know you come from a family of salesmen–you’ve become maybe the most effective lobbyist in the world. How have you embraced that?
Bono: Well, thank you. It’s the ideas that win the day, and when we go for a meeting with Angela Merkel, say, a couple of months ago or together, me and Bill, went to see pretty much most of the French government a few months ago, we tried to bring ideas with us that will solve the problem that we are presenting. Our strategy, you could call it sort of inside-game maneuvering with those ideas–but then outside mobilization, so there’s always a moment where you can lean in with the policymaker and just say, if they are being rude to you: “Coming to a stadium near you. … ”
Forbes: Last question. There’s a lot of pressure on you guys, as people expect big things. Do your amazing first acts create self-imposed pressure for your second acts?
Gates: Well, yes. But that’s fun. You have the possibility to fail. I think Warren’s generosity to the foundation made that even more acute, because if it’s money that you made yourself, it’s like “Okay, I have a right to make a mistake.” With his money, even though he’s been nice enough to say it’s okay to fail, I don’t feel like I should. It’s kind of fun. You want to wake up in the morning thinking, Am I working hard enough? Am I thinking hard enough? Have I found the right people? Why isn’t this thing that I thought would go well not going well? That’s kind of a dynamic thing, and I feel glad that that kind of challenge–philanthropy has that every bit as much as my previous work did.
Bono: I haven’t left my day job yet, though there’s always this possibility when U2 puts out an album that no one will be there to buy it. And according to my band, if I keep doing these type of events, that’s going to be closer than we thought. I have a tricky one, you know, because I have to balance being an artist, which is my gift, and being this salesperson. In U2, I sell melodies, I sell songs. Here I try to sell ideas, but I have to believe in them, and then I’m a pretty good salesman. There is a huge pressure in not wanting to screw up the position that you’ve been put in. I do feel that, and I know that everyone in ONE feels that and everyone in RED feels that, because we’re serving. Though Nelson Mandela asked us to serve and Desmond Tutu threatened us on a regular basis that if we stop serving we wouldn’t go to heaven, the pressure is internal, as Bill says.
In this kind of work you do see people crack under that because these are matters of life and death a lot of the time. So it’s lucky that we get to, Bill and myself, drink heavily. That’s a joke. But we actually do have a lot of fun doing this. It’s very exciting to see the progress that’s been made in the last ten years. And you get to hang out with Warren Buffett, who is a comedian.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
When Paul McGuinness began managing U2, in 1978, they were playing in car parks. This week he announced he would no longer be the ‘fifth member’ of the most successful live band of all time. Why?
| Paul McGuinness (back) with U2 at an Island Records party in 1980. Photograph: L Cohen/WireImage/Getty|
It was music’s Alex Ferguson moment: the guiding hand of a high-achieving corporation standing down after a long and hugely successful tenure. The 35-year relationship between Paul McGuinness and U2, which saw the band go from playing from the back of a van in a Dublin car park to becoming the most successful live touring band of all time, ended rather mutely this week with McGuinness selling his Principle Management company to the concert promoter Live Nation.
As with Ferguson, the 62-year-old is moving upstairs, to become chairman of Principle. Day-to-day management is being taken over by Guy Oseary, who also manages Madonna.
McGuinness made a statement to the New York Times that suggested his age was a factor in the decision. “It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock ’n’ roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career.”
Oseary has been in place for a few weeks. McGuinness told the band two years ago that he was considering standing down. After three and a half decades in the rock ’n’ roll trenches and with a new album and world tour ready to go next year, it’s entirely possible that McGuinness decided he had had enough of the long days that managing one of the world’s biggest bands entails.
It was a surprise to some that U2’s official website and Facebook and Twitter accounts had nothing to say about their manager’s departure once news broke on Wednesday that he was standing down.
By the time Weekend Review went to press yesterday the band had made no statement to the media in general, and neither they nor McGuinness had responded to questions from The Irish Times.
Some see the absence of a valedictory statement from the band as bad form. “McGuinness deserves better than this,” says one observer who has had close links with the band for many years. “The failure of the band to issue a statement has not gone unnoticed in the industry.”
This does not necessarily point to strained relations between U2 and their former manager. There has been no official confirmation of the deal by Live Nation, so the band might regard a statement as premature.
“Paul fought, fought and fought again for the band,” says one person who has worked with McGuinness and knows him well personally. “He would be the one up early and still at work late at night, arguing with local police chiefs and mayors about stage times and curfews. He was more than loyal, and he literally kept the band together at times. He’s an absolute gentleman who will defend U2 to the death.”
All one needs to know about what McGuinness did for U2 is to consider that Bruce Springsteen refers to his manager, Jon Landau, as the American Paul McGuinness.
In May 1978 a new band then known as The Hype were playing at Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Even then they had ideas about themselves. Paul Hewson, David Evans, Larry Mullen jnr and Adam Clayton figured they needed a manager to get them a record deal.
McGuinness was in the audience that night and was impressed by the inchoate new-wave noise he heard from the stage. Taking them to the Granary pub next door, where the members of U2 were too young to be served alcohol, he immediately impressed the ambitious, wide-eyed northsiders by telling them how to handle all the money that would inevitably flow in once they had an album in the shops.
He talked sagely about how The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had run into problems by not sharing their income equally between the band’s songwriting and nonsongwriting members. He persuaded them to share everything. “It has stood them in very good stead, because it backs up the democracy of a decision if everyone’s making the same amount of money,” he later said.
He also negotiated an equal 20 per cent of U2’s income for himself. For a long time he was, very unusually, paid as if he were part of the band. “This was reviewed later on. There should always be a division between client and manager,” he has said.