Tag Archives: U2

U2 and the Rules of Rock

28 May

Last night, we saw U2 in concert. They are not our favorite group, but some friends had extra tickets that they wanted to sell. We took them because U2 is a legendary band that people should see if given the chance and because we thought it would be a good show. In fact, it was a good show. However, it could have been a great show.

We got to our seats and saw a big wall.

I immediately thought they were trying to copy Pink Floyd, and, as the concert progressed, it was apparent that this was their version of The Wall.

Songs took the crowd through Bono’s youth with odes to his mother and to his childhood neighborhood. Then, the story took a turn as a comic book version of U2 was formed and flew too close to the sun before being brought back down to earth. Finally, the concert turned to the current state of politics and how America is a nation that can still be a shining beacon for the world.

Through all of that, there were great visual effects and moments of acting from Bono. At one point, he went from being a demon to talking to someone at home while cleaning up in a mirror.

All of that was fine. U2 is successful enough to indulge themselves in a little Rock Opera, and they have money enough to put together a visual spectacle. They were also low-key in their political statements for a band that has always been known for its politics.

However, through all of that there was one vital missing ingredient.

U2 did not play many of their hit songs. There was new stuff. There were deep cuts. There were homages to other artists. There were only a few songs that the casual U2 listener would recognize.

Throughout the day, I have been thinking about this and have come up with some ideas about what long-established bands should do during a concert. I call these ideas The Rules of Rock. Of course, they could also be called The Rules of Country. The Rules of Pop or The Rules of Any Genre of Music.

  1. If you have a song that reached Number 1 on the charts, then you should play it in concert. This would include “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” They did not play either of these songs, and I believe they are the only two singles to reach Number 1 on the US charts.
  2. If you have a song to which everyone in the building knows the words, then you should play it in concert. This does not have to be a Number 1 song. It could be something that was popular and people remember. “Where the Streets Have No Name” fits this category, but they did not play it.
  3. If you have a song that was the first semi-hit that put you on the map, then you should play it in concert. For a lot of people, “New Year’s Day” was the first sound they heard from U2, and it made them want to hear more. They did not play this, but it would have been a good idea.

I am sure that a ton of people left the concert happy with what they heard. Many people around us were singing along to songs that I have never heard. They cheered at some early U2 music that true fans of the band have probably grown to love. Certainly, those in the audience who Bono called out from the stage had a good time. Oprah Winfrey, Al Gore, former Republican Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, Ashley Judd, T-Bone Burnett, Ava DuVerney, Dierks Bentley. The list goes on and on.

As for us, we are not super fans or personal friends. We are people who wanted to hear the hits, and we did not hear enough of them.

An Open Letter To Madonna

20 Jan

Dear Madonna,

Last night, we attended your concert in Nashville. Actually, we attended part of your concert in Nashville. The announced starting time was 8:00, and you did not take the stage until 10:30. As someone who has attended numerous concerts, I understand that 8:00 does not mean 8:00. However, it does not usually mean a two-and-a-half hour wait.

Justin Timberlake started at a reasonable time, and he is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

Taylor Swift started at a reasonable time, and she is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The Rolling Stones started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

U2 started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

Elvis, another one of those performers who everyone knows by one name, started at a reasonable time. You call yourself the queen, but everyone called him the King.Rebel Heart

You should understand that it is no longer the 1980s. Your fans are not teenagers. There were a few people wearing leashes, but most of the people in my section looked to be in their 40s and 50s. Most assuredly, they had to get to work the next day. They wanted to have a good time, but they would have liked to have gotten home at a decent time.

You might want to think about this on a more personal level. You are no longer a spring chicken. Plastic surgery and makeup are wonderful things, but I think you could use some beauty sleep.

The part of the concert that we saw was well done. Your band was solid. The stage and props were cool. Your dancers were awesome. You sang and danced well for someone at this point in your career. However, I am not sure you realize what point that is.

You are no longer a cutting edge performer. Except for a few collaborations, you are no longer a hit-making machine. Your success comes from people who buy tickets to your concerts to hear the songs of their youth. This means that they want to hear those songs in their original formats. Elton John calls it the jukebox, and I have heard him say that he is happy to play them. You should take note from Sir Elton and his ability to connect with his fans.

Before the concert, we read that you had some problems in Louisville. You started three hours late, and many people thought you were drunk on stage. After a situation like that, I assumed that you would want to make amends at our show. I was wrong in that assumption. You chose to be unprofessional and start late once again.

Here is a suggestion. If you are not going to play until 10:30, then announce that the concert will start at 9:30. That will prepare everyone for what will happen.

I will give you credit on one thing. You were not drunk on stage. No one could go through that type of choreography and be toasted at the same time. However, I understand why the people in Louisville came to that conclusion. The part of the concert where you banter with the crowd was odd.

You spoke with a fake southern accent, which was worse than your fake British accent. On top of that, it was condescending to your audience. I understand that we are not from a cultured place like Detroit, but we are not hillbillies. We wear shoes, and they sometimes match our leashes. We have teeth, and we do not marry our cousins that often.

You also talked about how you usually wear little clothing and mentioned something about how everyone wants to see you naked. People have not wanted to see you naked since the Reagan administration. Although, I understand that sexuality is part of your act.

Here is another suggestion. Leave the sensuality up to your dancers. They oozed it during the stripping nun routine. While I am on the subject of stripping nuns, I need to say something about your need to have a shock factor.

The bed routine was a nice touch. Having same-sex couples and a topless dancer was interesting. However, it was far from the most shocking thing I have ever seen at a concert. This is a family blog, and I will not go into details. Just know that you need to talk to Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and the rest of Motley Crue. They know how to shock, and they know how to do it at a decent hour.

You also talked about how your job is to create art and change the world. Actually, that is not true. If you want to use your fortune for great causes, then that is commendable. However, your job is to entertain. In my mind, you, like a great many other performers, are well-paid organ grinder monkeys. Your job is to make the audience happy, and I assure you that many in your audience were not happy.

We left not long after your speech, but we were far from the first ones to leave. That does not count the man behind us who was asleep. Even the drunkest revelers and your biggest fans were fading away.

Odds are that you will never read this, but one of your staff members may stumble upon it while looking for concert reactions. In case that happens, I have a final suggestion.

Respect your audience. During your banter, you mentioned that you are famous. It took a lot of hard work to get where you are, but you are famous because the audience deems you to be. That means that we deserve your respect and should not have to wait for hours to bask in your presence.

In closing, you are a star, but you are not as big a star as you were. You were Madonna. Now, you are Prima Donna. There will come a time when you are just Donna.

I have attended dozens of memorable concerts. Several of those performers I have seen more than once. Rest assured, your concert will be memorable for all the wrong reasons, and I will not be seeing you a second time. For someone with your wealth that probably does not matter. However, that wealth relies heavily on ticket sales. If enough people go away angered, then it may begin to matter.

Sincerely,

Rick

My iPod Has Issues – Kicking It Off With Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

31 Aug

My family is watching the MTV Video Music Awards, and I am in my office getting mentally prepared for tomorrow’s classes. The desk is a mess and needs to be cleaned. Looking around, I only see a few things that need to be kept.

The latest edition of National Geographic.

A new voter registration card.

A stack of books that includes Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne.

Oh yeah, there are a couple of vinyl albums, “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd and “Nashville Skyline” by Bob Dylan.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has a new exhibit about Dylan and Johnny Cash. I will see it before it is gone. In honor of that exhibit and the fact that I do not have the time to put together a real post, we will look into the mind of my iPod. Most of it will be random, but I am going to cheat on the first song.Cash and Dylan

“Girl From the North Country” by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

“Bustin’ Out” by Rick James

“Tree of Level” by The Fairfield Four

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John

“Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen

“Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick

“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards

“She Never Knew Me” by Don Williams

“Love is Strong” by The Rolling Stones

“The Cowboy Rides Away” by George Strait

“Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band

“La Grange” by ZZ Top

“Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere and the Raiders

“White Lightning Ballad” by Charles Bernstein

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2

“C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran

“Stockholm Blues” by Tony Joe White

“You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” by Judas Priest

“Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside

“I Want To” by Joe Tex

Music on the Inside

20 Jun

The other night, we saw The Rolling Stones at LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I am a music lover and am a big fan of concerts. However, I learned something about myself at this one. I do not like stadium shows. Seeing an iconic band like The Rolling Stones is great, but football stadiums are not conducive to a good show.

First, the weather has an impact. It was miserably hot and affected my ability to enjoy to music. However, other kinds of weather can mess it up. Rain. Thunder. Lightning. Anyway, the heat was unbearable.

Second, there are no good seats. Unless you are in front of the stage or have some sort of VIP pass, there is no good place to watch a concert in a football stadium. You are always far from the stage. That means you can hear a live concert, but you cannot necessarily see a live concert.

All of this means that I am a fan of indoor concerts. Good seats are actually good seats. Even bad seats are close enough to see something. People can feel like they are part of an event rather than being on the outskirts of one.

On top of that, indoor concerts are climate controlled. I saw Jimmy Buffett in an arena while it was storming outside. It rained enough to flood Nashville over the next several days.

Bringing up Jimmy Buffett makes me think of something else. His concerts are known as outdoor parties under the sun. I have seen him outside. I have seen him inside. The indoor shows were better.

The same goes for The Rolling Stones. I saw them in an arena and in a stadium. The arena show was better. They may not have performed better, but it was a better experience.

A few months ago, we saw Kenny Chesney in concert. It was an awesome show and a lot better than the time we saw him in a stadium.

Bottom line, football stadiums are not designed for concerts and the best ones are in smaller indoor buildings. However, I do not want to disparage the band. The Rolling Stones are great, and it is hard to believe they can perform at that level at their ages. They are a Hall of Fame band, and I want to end this post on a positive note. Since they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I thought it would be interesting to see how many members I have seen in concert.Rock Hall

I guess it can be done by their year of induction.

1986

The Everly Brothers

Elvis Presley

1987

Bo Diddley

B.B. King

1988

Bob Dylan

Diana Ross

1989

The Rolling Stones

1990

Simon and Garfunkel

The Who

1992

Johnny Cash (I did not actually see him perform, but I met him in a bookstore.)

1993

John Fogerty

1994

Elton John

Rod Stewart

1995

Al Green

Robert Plant

1996

Pink Floyd

1997

Crosby, Stills and Nash

Parliament-Funkadelic

1998

Eagles

Fleetwood Mac

Santana

1999

Del Shannon

Bruce Springsteen

2000

Eric Clapton

Earth, Wind and Fire

James Taylor

2001

Aerosmith

Steely Dan

2002

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

2003

AC/DC

2004

Prince

Bob Seger

Steve Winwood

ZZ Top

2005

Buddy Guy

U2

2006

Ozzy Osbourne

Lynyrd Skynyrd

2008

Leonard Cohen

John Mellencamp

2009

Metallica

2011

Alice Cooper

Neil Diamond

2012

Axl Rose

2014

John Oates

Kiss

They are all Hall of Famers, and I can guarantee they all put on better shows indoors.

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1987

14 Apr

Looking back, 1987 was a big year in the life of me. I started the year as a high school student and ended it as a college student. That is always one of life’s great transitions. However, the year was big for another reason.

That was the year I first met my wife. Of course, it was 26 years before we got married. One of these days, I will write that story.

On this day, I need to complete this soundtrack that I started. Honestly, I did not think it would take this long. Anyway, here are the Number One songs of 1987.1987

The Bangles and “Walk Like an Egyptian” remained in the Number One spot as the year began. However, they were soon replaced with “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott. Yeah, I do not remember him, either.

After a week, he was replaced by “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters. A little research shows that this song was greatly helped by its inclusion on Family Ties, the sitcom that made Michael J. Fox famous.

Madonna, who was creating hits like crazy, entered the Number One position with “Open Your Heart”.

However, she could not hold off the onslaught that was Bon Jovi. “Livin’ on a Prayer” was the year’s first big hit and stayed at the top for four weeks.

They were replaced by another band that personified the 1980s, Huey Lewis and the News. For one week “Jacob’s Ladder” was on everyone’s radios.

That one week at the top gave way to “Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau. Of course, that was a remake of the classic by Bill Withers.

Guess who comes next. You would be wrong if you said Jefferson Airplane. You would be wrong if you said Jefferson Starship. You would be right if you said Starship. They had a bunch of hits for a band who could not figure out what to call themselves. Anyway, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” made it to Number One.

Thankfully, they were dispatched by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” hit Number One and announced to the world that the other guy from Wham! was no longer around.

A memorable 1980s song came next. “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” made girls swoon and made Cutting Crew famous.

A little band called U2 and a song called “With or Without You” stayed Number One for three weeks. Then, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Kim Wilde went wild.

That was followed by Atlantic Starr with “Always” and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with “Head to Toe”.

That is when Whitney Houston returned to the top with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. That is when the Wilson sisters, otherwise known as Heart, told everyone that they were “Alone”.

Who took their place? Axel Foley. Well, that is not totally accurate. “Shakedown” by Bob Seger was spotlighted in Beverly Hills Cop II. Of course, that movie starred Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley.

After one week, the power of U2 surged to the top. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” were their second Number One of the year.

Then, Madonna had another Number One with “Who’s That Girl”. It looks like a trend was developing among the 1980s superstars. They kept making their way to the top. I guess that is why they are superstars.

Another remake, “La Bamba”, made it to Number One for Los Lobos. The Ritchie Valens song returned with a movie that reminded everyone who he was and what happened to him.

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson returned to Number One with “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. However, he had help. It was a duet with Siedah Garrett.

Whitney Houston had a big year that continued with “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”.

Then, we get to a real band. Whitesnake was one of my favorites. Hair Metal. How can you beat that? Anyway, “Here I Go Again” broke through all of the pop and brought some guitars to the scene. I saw them while they were touring for this album. It was an awesome experience. I guess I could write about it at some point.

For some reason, they were replaced by “Lost in Emotion” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Obviously, the general public had no taste.

Michael Jackson came back with “Bad”. However he was not bad enough to hold off a singer who could have only made it in the 1980s. Tiffany remade “I Think We’re Alone Now”, which was more famously recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells. I have to admit that I had a big crush on Tiffany. Of course, I did not care about her singing.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Another old song by Tommy James and the Shondells hit Number One. I wonder if anyone noticed. This time, it was “Mony Mony” as sung by Billy Idol.

The lovebird duet by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes came next. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life) was featured in Dirty Dancing. In 1987, every girl wanted to travel back to the 1960s and vacation in the Catskills. It was sickening.

Belinda Carlisle hit big with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”. However, the end of the year ended with George Michael completely burying what was left of Wham! “Faith” announced him established him as a hit-making solo artist.

There you have it. The years of 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987 were my time in high school, and the songs in these posts were the Number One hits of my formative years. I still like some of them, but, thankfully, my musical taste was not completely destroyed.

 

 

 

 

My iPod Has Issues – We Are The Trivia Champions

27 Feb

Today, the History Club played Trivial Pursuit. It was students against teachers with the students having about ten people and we teachers only having three. In other words, the students were at a severe disadvantage.Trivia

The students streaked out to an early lead, but, by the end, we had pulled ahead and barely won. Some of the students were crushed. Some did not care. I think I can speak for each of the teachers by saying that we were relieved. A loss would have never been lived down.

To celebrate our victory, I decided to dig into the iPod and let it play. After all, it is party time for the history faculty. We were able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones

“Groove’s Groove” by Richard “Groove” Holmes

“Who’s To Bless And Who’s To Blame” by Kris Kristofferson

“Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent

“Les Flammes D’en Fer” by The Jambalaya Cajun Band

“Ode To Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry

“Breaking The Law” by Judas Priest

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

“Bat Out Of Hell” by Meat Loaf

“In The Air Tonight” by Nonpoint

“Truck Drivin’ Man” by Jimmy Martin

“Let It Be” by The Beatles

“Surrender” by Cheap Trick

“Orange Blossom Special” by Benny Martin

“Here Comes The Sun” by Richie Havens

“An Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night

“I Sang Dixie” by Dwight Yoakam

“You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

“I Never Loved A Man” by Aretha Franklin

“All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix

A victory in Trivial Pursuit? That must mean that the teacher team is the GOAT!

My iPod Has Issues – Sad Songs Say Everything

10 Feb

A sadness has come over me. There are reasons for the melancholy that has settled in, but I will not go into them. When I get into a mood such as this, I need to hear sad songs. I suppose many people would listen to happy music in an attempt to pull themselves out. However, sad music helps me focus on what is going through my mind and alleviate some of the feelings that have developed.Pier

With that in mind, I think it is a good time to look into the iPod and play some songs that I consider sad. Of course, that definition is in the ear of the beholder. One person’s sad song could be someone else’s happy song. Nevertheless, here we go.

“Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley

“You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” by Dave Alvin

“It Was A Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra

“Love On The Rocks” by Neil Diamond

“The Pretender” by Jackson Browne

“Moment Of Surrender” by U2

“Pieces Of April” by Three Dog Night

“Just A Song Before I Go” by Crosby, Stills and Nash

“Scarborough Fair” by Simon and Garfunkel

“Girl From The North Country” by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

“November Rain” by Guns ‘N Roses

“Shenandoah” by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

“For The Good Times” by Ray Price

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies

“Alone Again” by Dokken

“By The Time I Get To Phoenix” by Glen Campbell

“It Was Almost Like A Song” by Johnny Hartman

“Levon” by Elton John

“Everything Must Change” by Oleta Adams

“Badge” by Cream

Dang, I want to continue listening to sad songs. However, I will stop typing right here.